What are Medicare Advantage Plans and Can I Get One in Colorado?
Unlike Original Medicare, which only covers major medical, a Medicare Advantage plan can include many extras, including prescriptions, vision, hearing, dental, and fitness, just to name a few. And, good news, they are available in Colorado.
Althought the extra benefits are nice to have, it's important to fully understand what you're getting if you join a Medicare Advantage plan in Colorado. Specifically, Medicare Advantage is managed care health insurance and the plan controls your access to healthcare providers. If you have ever had an HMO plan through your employer's group health insurance, you have a good idea of what managed care is all about.
Medicare vs. Medicare Advantage: What's the Difference?
The big differences between traditional Medicare coverage and what you get with Medicare Advantage are easy to see by pointing out the pros and cons. Neither type of insurance is perfect. They each suit different needs.
Medicare Advantage vs. Medicare: The Pros and Cons
- Doctor Choice:
- Medicare Advantage: Must use healthcare providers within the plan's network.
- Original Medicare: Use any Medicare-approved provider you choose.
- Medicare Advantage: Each plan can charge what they want for copays and coinsurance, making it challenging to compare actual costs.
- Original Medicare: Coinsurance and deductibles are predictable and you can get a Medicare supplement to help pay these costs.
- Medicare Advantage: You're protected by the plan's annual maximum out-of-pocket (MOOP) limit. Once you reach this spending limit the plan pays all additional copays and coinsurance for the rest of the year.
- Original Medicare: No out-of-pocket limit.
- Medicare Advantage: Most plans come bundled with a Medicare Part D plan for prescription coverage.
- Original Medicare: You must buy a stand-alone Medicare Part D plan.
- Medicare Advantage: You're covered for travel emergencies within the USA but not for routine doctor visits outside of your home county.
- Original Medicare: You're covered anywhere you go in the USA and its territories.
Medicare Advantage vs. Medigap
Most Colorado seniors just getting their Medicare benefits want to know which type of plan is better. We commonly see these three questions:
- Why are Medicare Advantage plans bad?
- What are the disadvantages of Medicare Advantage plans?
- Is it better to have Medicare Advantage or Medigap?
Let's take a minute or two to compare and contrast, shall we?
Why Colorado Medicare Advantage Plans are Bad
First things first. Medicare Advantage plans are not bad. More than 20% of all Medicare beneficiaries in Colorado have a Medicare Advantage plan. But, it's not for everyone.
A good way to figure out which coverage is best for you is to look at your health and your finances. If you have one or more chronic conditions and you can afford a supplement, traditional Medicare is likely the best option because you have the ability to choose your doctors. Conversely, if you are super healthy, or you are unable to afford a Medicare supplement, then Medicare Advantage is a viable option.
Here's the fundamental truth. Medicare plus a Medigap plan works best for people with chronic health conditions. It's also the best coverage for people who can afford a higher monthly premium, even if they rarely see a doctor.
What are the Disadvantages of Colorado Medicare Advantage Plans?
We have already highlighted the issue of doctor choice in Medicare Advantage. If this is not an issue for you, then consider the financial differences.
Medicare Advantage plans have a monthly premium, but it's generally less than a Medicare supplement, and some plans even have a $0 premium. But, you also pay when you use health care. These are the copays.
With a Medicare supplement plan you pay most of your costs in advance with monthly premiums. Depending on the level of coverage you choose, the plan can cover all of your copays, coinsurance, and deductibles except the annual Part B deductible. This makes your monthly healthcare costs more predictable, particularly if or when you have serious health problems.
Which is Best in Colorado, Medicare Advantage or Medicare Supplement Insurance?
- If you can afford Medigap Plan F or G, then keep your Original Medicare and add one of these supplements.
- If you are a healthy senior and have good health in your family heritage, Medigap Plan N will let you save money by sharing some costs when you see your doctor.
- If you are a healthy senior but you cannot afford a Medigap Plan F, G, or N, Medicare Advantage is a good choice.
- If you are turning age 65, have one or more chronic health conditions that require frequent doctor visits, and you do not qualify for both Medicare and Medicaid (dual eligible), the most Medigap coverage you can afford is the best option.
- If you qualify for both Medicare and Medicaid, regardless of your health condition, Medicare Advantage is your best option.
- If you have special needs (i.e., a full-time nursing home resident, diabetes, etc.) and an appropriate Medicare Advantage Special Needs Plan (SNP) is available, this is your best option.
Frequently Asked Questions About Colorado Medicare Advantage Plans
Colorado Medicare Advantage plans are not statewide, they are local. So, the only way to answer this question is to enter your zipcode here.
One of the best features of Colorado Medicare Advantage plans is the extra benefits, including prescription drug coverage. Most plans include Part D, but not all. You can quickly see with plans offer it in your area by entering your zip code in this tool.
Some people love Medicare Advantage while others hate it. The only way to determine if it will work for you is to compare your health and financial situation with the plans available in your area. In this article you will learn how to do just that.