Medicare Advantage plans are offered by private insurance companies—like Humana—contracted by the federal government. Medicare Advantage, also referred to as Medicare Part C, covers the same healthcare services as Original Medicare, with the exception of hospice care. Many Medicare Advantage plans also include prescription drug coverage.
In addition, many Medicare Advantage plans include coverage for vision, dental and hearing care. Health and wellness benefits like fitness programs may be offered, as well.
With Medicare Advantage plans, instead of paying your healthcare bills directly, the federal government pays private insurance companies to administer your coverage.
There are 2 ways to get Medicare prescription drug coverage:
Your out-of-pocket costs for prescription drug deductibles, copays and coinsurance vary from plan to plan. Be sure to check each plan's Drug List (list of covered drugs) to see what drugs are covered.
With Original Medicare, a primary care doctor is not required. You can visit any doctor who accepts Medicare.
With a Medicare Advantage plan, your choice of doctor depends on whether you select a health maintenance organization (HMO) or preferred provider organization (PPO) plan.
With an HMO plan, you can choose your primary care physician from any doctor in the plan's network. If you opt for a PPO plan, generally, choosing a primary care physician is optional. With both types of plans, you'll usually save money by visiting a network provider.
It's important to note that Medicare Advantage plans must offer emergency coverage outside of the plan's service area, anywhere in the U.S.
In most cases, you can only change your Medicare health insurance plan during the open enrollment period. However, certain life events such as marriage, birth of a child, or loss of coverage may qualify you for a special enrollment period.