When you’re ready to start reviewing plans, check out the Medicare plan finder tool, which will let you compare Medicare Advantage and Part D prescription drug plans available in your area. You can also get this information by calling Medicare at 800-633-4227.
If you’re looking for a Medigap plan, you can also start at medicare.gov, where you can compare the different types of coverage, as well as find the policies available in your ZIP code.
Another good resource is the State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP), which provides free guidance over the phone. To find your state’s program, go to shiphelp.org or call 877-839-2675.
Medicare Advantage is an all-in-one managed care plan, typically an HMO or PPO. Advantage plans provide the benefits of Part A and B, and most also include Part D, or prescription drug coverage. Some offer extra benefits not available through Original Medicare, such as fitness classes or vision and dental care.
If you opt for Medicare Advantage, you typically continue to pay your Part B premium as usual, but you will pay little or no additional premiums for your coverage. You generally have copays or coinsurance, but once you reach your out-of-pocket limit, the plan will pay 100 percent of your medical costs covered under Medicare for the rest of the year. The out-of-pocket limit does not apply to prescription drugs or extra benefits.
To keep premiums low, Advantage plans generally require you to get your care from a network of doctors, hospitals, and other providers, and you typically need pre-authorization for specialized care.