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What is a Medicare Advantage plan?

What is a Medicare Advantage plan?

Medicare Advantage plans provide you with more choices and, sometimes, extra benefits by letting private companies offer you your Medicare benefits. If you join a Medicare Advantage plan, you may have the following choices:

  • Medicare Managed Care Plans -- In most of these plans, you can only go to doctors, specialists, or hospitals on the plan's list. This is called the plan's "network." You may also have to choose a primary care doctor and get referrals to see a specialist. You may get extra benefits, like coverage for prescription drugs.
  • Medicare Private Fee-for-Service Plans -- If you join one of these plans, you can go to any doctor or hospital that accepts the terms of the plan's payment. The private company, rather than the Medicare program, decides how much it will pay and what you pay for the services you get. You may get extra benefits, like coverage for prescription drugs or extra days in the hospital.
  • Medicare Preferred Provider Organization Plans (PPOs) -- In most of these plans, you use doctors, specialists, and hospitals on the plan's list (network). You can go to doctors, specialists, or hospitals not on the plan's list, but it may cost extra. You don't need referrals to see specialists. You may get extra benefits, like coverage for prescription drugs.
  • Medicare Specialty Plans -- These plans provide more focused health care for some people. If you join one of these plans, you get all your Medicare health care as well as more focused care to manage a specific disease or condition.

If you decide to join a Medicare Advantage Plan, then you will use the health care card that you get from your Medicare Advantage plan (provider) for your health care. To join a Medicare Advantage Plan, you must have Medicare Part A and Part B.You will have to pay the monthly Medicare Part B premium of $96.40 in 2009 to Medicare. In addition, you might have to pay a monthly premium to your Medicare Advantage plan for the extra benefits that they offer. You should call the Medicare Advantage plan that you're interested in to find out what extra benefits they offer and how much your monthly premium will be. Medicare Advantage plans are available in many areas of the country. For information about the Medicare Advantage plans available in your area, visit the Medicare Health Plans section on this Website, or call 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227).

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Medicare Advantage Plans