What is a New Jersey Medicare Advantage Plan?
Traditional Medicare covers about 80% of all major medical costs. It does not cover minor medical for things like vision, hearing, dental, and prescriptions. The Medicare Advantage plans available in New Jersey can include minor medical benefits, but are not required to. Most do include coverage for prescriptions.
While it is nice to have coverage for minor medical costs, it is critical that you understand exactly what you get when you join a Medicare Advantage plan in New Jersey. In particular, you need to know that these plans have complete control over your access to doctors and other healthcare providers. If you've ever had a managed care plan (HMO, PPO, etc.) through an employer, then you already know what to expect.
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.
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.
Medigap vs. Medicare Advantage
Three of the most common questions we get are:
- 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 answer these three questions right now.
Why New Jersey Medicare Advantage Plans are Bad
This is a myth. There's nothing wrong with Medicare Advantage plans. In fact, over 20 percent of all Medicare beneficiaries in New Jersey choose Medicare Advantage.
What you really need to know is that these plans are not for everyone. Some people are better served with traditional Medicare and a Medicare supplement. The question is, which option is best for you?
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 New Jersey.
The Disadvantage of Medicare Advantage Plans if You Live in New Jersey
The disadvantage of Medicare Advantage plans is the strength of New Jersey Medigap plans. You see, when you take doctor choice out of the equation, the big difference between Medicare Advantage and Medigap is when you pay for services.
With Medicare Advantage you pay a little each month (with some plans you pay nothing). This is the monthly premium. But you also pay a copay when you use most medical services, and they add up fast. However, with traditional Medicare and a Medigap plan for supplemental coverage, you pay for most of your costs in advance with a higher premium. This makes your health care costs predictable, and for most people on a fixed budget, that's very comforting.
When Should I Consider Medigap Instead of Medicare Advantage?
- 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 New Jersey Medicare Advantage Plans
Medicare Advantage plans vary from County to County in New Jersey. This is due to the local nature of healthcare provider networks. If you enter your zipcode into this tool it will show you all of your plan options and 5-star ratings.
More than 90% of all Medicare Advantage plans in New Jersey 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.
To understand the pros and cons of Medicare Advantage, you need to compare it with Original Medicare and factor in your health and financial situation. This article can help you compare which type of plan is best.