What are Medicare Advantage Plans and Can I Get One in Connecticut?
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 Connecticut.
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 Connecticut. 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.
Original Medicare vs. Medicare Advantage
One way to better understand how different Original Medicare is from Medicare Advantage is to have a look at the pros and cons of each type of health insurance. So, let's do that.
Pros and Cons: Medicare vs. Connecticut Medicare Advantage Plans
- When you have Original Medicare you are free to use any Medicare-approved doctor you choose. When you join a Medicare Advantage plan, your choices are limited to the plan's network of Connecticut providers.
- If you travel frequently or you are a snowbird and winter or summer in another state, your Original Medicare coverage remains the same. It goes where you go. This is not true with Connecticut Medicare Advantage plans, which are only required to cover you if you have a medical emergency.
- With OriginalMedicare there are no limits on your out-of-pocket costs. However, all Connecticut Medicare Advantage plans have an annual maximum out-of-pocket (MOOP) limit. If you reach the MOOP spending limit on your copays and coinsurance, the plan picks up the tab for the remainder of the year.
- If you want prescription coverage and have Original Medicare you must purchase a Medicare Part D plan. However, most Medicare Advantage plans include a Connecticut Medicare Part D plan. Just be aware that a stand-alone Part D plan gives you the best opportunity to get your most expensive prescriptions at the lowest cost.
- In the Medicare Advantage program, the government allows plans to set their own copays and coinsurance for each healthcare service offered. This makes comparing plans difficult, at best. However, in the Original Medicare system deductibles and coinsurance are fixed, making them predictable. Plus, you can get a Medigap plan to help pay these costs.
Medicare Supplements vs. Medicare Advantage
We're frequently asked:
- 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 just a minute to dispel any misconception that these plans are bad or might have serious disadvantages.
Why Connecticut Medicare Advantage Plans are Bad
First things first. Medicare Advantage plans are not bad. More than 20% of all Medicare beneficiaries in Connecticut have a Medicare Advantage plan. But, it's not for everyone.
MedicareWire advises people who have one or more serious chronic conditions to keep their Original Medicare, particularly if you have specialists treating you and you want to stay with them. Our opinion is that Medicare Advantage is an excellent option for those who qualify for both Medicare and Medicaid (dual eligible) and for extremely healthy, active seniors.
Similarly, traditional Medicare, plus Medicare supplement insurance, work best for people with chronic health conditions, as well as those who can afford a higher monthly premium. Most experts agree that this is the best health insurance seniors can get in Connecticut.
What are the Disadvantages of Connecticut 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.
With most Medicare Advantage plans you pay a little each month (the monthly premium) and a copay when you use medical services. With most Medigap plans you pay most of your costs upfront with your monthly premium. As a result, your costs are more predictable than they might be if you have Medicare Advantage and use a lot of healthcare services
Is it better to have Medicare Advantage in Connecticut or Medigap?
- 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 Connecticut Medicare Advantage Plans
Connecticut Medicare Advantage plans are not statewide, they are local. So, the only way to answer this question is to enter your zipcode here.
More than 90% of all Medicare Advantage plans in Connecticut include a Part D plan for prescriptions, but not all. However, coverage is different with each plan. It is very important to verify that a plan covers your most important medications before you join. You can do so using 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.