How Do I Enroll in Medicare Advantage Plan
You could have been excited to enroll in a Medicare Advantage plan when you heard that they may have more benefits and lower out of pocket costs than Original Medicare. Here’s a few things to learn about Medicare Advantage enrollment.
Medicare Advantage Enrollment Tip 1: Sign Up During an Enrollment Period
You are generally restricted to certain periods for Medicare Advantage enrollment. These periods include:
- Your initial Medicare Advantage enrollment period: this is a 7 month period. It begins 3 months before you turn 65, includes your birthday month and extends for 3 months after. If you qualify for Medicare through disability, you also have a 7-month initial enrollment period. This period begins 3 months before your 25th month of getting disability benefits, includes, your 25th month of getting disability benefits, and extends for three months after your 25th month of getting disability benefits.
- The Medicare Open Enrollment Period: this period is from October 15 to December 7 each year. During this period you can switch from Original Medicare to Medicare Advantage or switch from one Medicare Advantage plan to another.
- A Special Enrollment Period: You might be given a special period for Medicare Advantage enrollment under certain circumstances. For example, if your Medicare Advantage plan goes bankrupt and you are left without coverage, you may be given an opportunity to enroll in a new Medicare Advantage plan.
Medicare Advantage Enrollment Tip 2: Know the Differences between Plan Costs
Before you enroll in a Medicare Advantage plan, know that they have different costs and benefits. Costs include premiums, deductibles, and copayments/coinsurance.
- Premiums are the monthly amount you pay to have your Some Medicare Advantage premiums may be as low as $0 and some may have premiums over $100.
- A deductible is the amount you pay before your plan begins to pay. Medicare Advantage plans may have separate medical and prescription drug deductibles.
- A copayment is a dollar amount you pay when you receive medical services, for example $10 to see a primary care physician.
- A coinsurance is a percentage you pay, for example 30% of the cost of a certain prescription drug.
The lowest cost plan for you depends on which medical services you use. You should also consider the plan’s out of pocket maximum. This is the maximum you will pay out of pocket before all your covered medical expenses are paid for that year. Out of pocket maximums vary from plan to plan.
Medicare Advantage Enrollment Tip 3: Know the Difference between Plan Benefits
All Medicare Advantage plans cover at a minimum, what Medicare Part A and Part B cover which includes some hospital and medical expenses. Many Medicare Advantage plans also offer extra benefits including:
- Routine dental benefits including cleanings, fillings, x-rays, and dentures
- Routine vision benefits including eyeglasses and contacts
- Routine hearing benefits including hearing aids
- SilverSneakers fitness benefits including exercise classes
Not all Medicare Advantage plans cover extra benefits in the same way. Sometimes you must pay a higher premium for plans with more benefits.
Medicare Advantage Enrollment Tip 4: Compare Plans before You Enroll
If you want to compare plans from different providers side by side, you might want to use a health insurance broker like eHealth. To begin comparing Medicare Advantage plans in your area, just enter your zip code on this page.