Medicare Advantage Plans, sometimes called Part C, are health plan options that are part of the Medicare program. If you join one of these plans, you generally get all your Medicare-covered health care through the Medicare Advantage Plan. This coverage can include prescription drug coverage. Medicare Advantage Plans include:
- Medicare Health Maintenance Organization (HMOs)
- Preferred Provider Organizations (PPO)
- Private Fee-for-Service Plans
- Medicare Special Needs Plans
When you join a Medicare Advantage Plan, you use the health insurance card that you get from the plan for your health care. In most of these plans, there generally are extra benefits and lower co-payments than in the Original Medicare Plan. Most Medicare Advantage Plans are managed care plans, usually a health maintenance organization (HMO) or a preferred provider organization (PPO) and you may have to see doctors that belong to the plan or go to certain hospitals to get services.
To join a Medicare Advantage Plan, you must have Medicare Part A and Part B. You will have to pay your monthly Medicare Part B premium to Medicare. In addition, you may have to pay a monthly premium to your Medicare Advantage Plan for the extra benefits that they offer. In 2022, the standard Part B premium amount is $170.10 (or higher depending on your income). However, some people who get Social Security benefits pay less than this amount.
Different Types of Medicare Advantage Plans
Medicare Advantage is a type of Medicare health plan offered by a private company that contracts with Medicare to provide you with all your Part A and Part B benefits.
Medicare Advantage Plans include the following:
Health Maintenance Organization (HMO) Plan
In most HMO Plans, you can only go to doctors, other health care providers, or hospitals on the plan’s list except in an emergency. You may also need to get a referral from your primary care doctor to see other doctors or specialists. Find and compare HMO Plans in your area.
Preferred Provider Organization (PPO) Plans
A Medicare PPO Plan is a type of Medicare Advantage Plan (Part C) offered by a private insurance company. In a PPO Plan, you pay less if you use doctors, hospitals, and other health care providers that belong to the plan’s network. You pay more if you use doctors, hospitals, and providers outside of the network.
Private Fee-for-Service (PFFS) Plans
A Medicare PFFS Plan is a type of Medicare Advantage Plan (Part C) offered by a private insurance company. PFFS plans aren’t the same as Original Medicare or Medigap. The plan determines how much it will pay doctors, other health care providers, and hospitals, and how much you must pay when you get care.
Medicare Special Needs (SNP) Plans
Medicare SNPs are a type of Medicare Advantage Plan (like an HMO or PPO). Medicare SNPs limit membership to people with specific diseases or characteristics, and tailor their benefits, provider choices, and drug formularies to best meet the specific needs of the groups they serve. Find out who can join a Medicare SNP
These definitions are directly from www.medicare.gov.
Medicare Part C and You
You may consider Medicare Part C, as this type of coverage offers more than Original Medicare. Original Medicare covers Medicare Part A and Medicare Part B, but without prescription drug coverage. Since these plans are offered to the public by private insurance companies, the cost of coverage varies. You will be responsible for paying your premiums, deductibles, and copays, which vary from plan to plan. One benefit of Medicare Part C is that the out-of-pocket costs are capped, and once you reach the cap, you will owe nothing more for that year.
When Can I Enroll?
Keep in mind that Medicare limits when you can join, switch, or drop a Medicare Advantage Plan. You can join a plan when you first become eligible for Medicare. This is anytime beginning three months before the month you turn 65 and ends three months after the month you turned 65.
- For example, if you turn 65 on May 5, your eligibility period starts on February 1 and ends on August 31.
- If you are disabled and have Social Security Disability Insurance, you can join an advantage plan three months before to three months after month 25 of your disability.
- You can switch or drop your Medicare Advantage during an enrollment period between October 15 and December 7 of each year.
*Disclaimer: This page has not been reviewed or endorsed by Medicare.gov or any member of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS).