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A Medicare Advantage Plan is a type of Medicare health plan offered by a private company that contracts with Medicare to provide you with all your Part A and Part B benefits. Medicare Advantage Plans include Health Maintenance Organizations (HMO), Preferred Provider Organizations (PPO), Private Fee-for-Service Plans (PFFS), Special Needs Plans (SNP) and Medicare Medical Savings Account Plans (MSA). If you're enrolled in a Medicare Advantage Plan, Medicare services are covered through the plan and aren't paid for under Original Medicare. Most Medicare Advantage Plans offer prescription drug coverage.

How do Medicare Advantage Plans work?

Medicare Advantage Plans, sometimes called "Part C" or "MA Plans," are offered by private companies approved by Medicare. If you join a Medicare Advantage Plan, you still have Medicare. You'll get your Medicare Part A (Hospital Insurance) and Medicare Part B (Medical Insurance) and your Part D (Prescription Drug Coverage) from the Medicare Advantage Plan and not Original Medicare.

Medicare Advantage Plans cover all Medicare services

Medicare health plans provide Part A and Part B benefits to people with Medicare who enroll in these plans, which include Medicare Advantage Plans, Medicare Cost Plans, Demonstration/Pilot Programs, and Programs of All-inclusive Care for the Elderly (PACE).

Medicare Advantage Plans must follow Medicare's rules

Medicare pays a fixed amount for your care each month to the companies offering Medicare Advantage Plans. These companies must follow rules set by Medicare.

However, each Medicare Advantage Plan can charge different out-of-pocket costs and have different rules for how you get services (like whether you need a referral to see a specialist or if you have to go to in-network doctors, facilities, or suppliers that have a contract with the plan when seeking non-emergency or non-urgent care). These rules can change each year.

Costs for Medicare health plans

Prices vary depending on the type of plan you chose if your plan has a network and what medications you need covered. Working with an agent will help you get the "best bang for your buck".

Drug coverage in Medicare Advantage Plans

You usually get prescription drug coverage through the Advantage plan. There are Advantage plans that don't offer drug coverage. You may choose this type of plan if you have the VA or other type of creditable drug coverage, otherwise you may incur a Part D penalty for not having “creditable Rx coverage” It is important to discuss with a qualified agent.

In most cases you cannot have prescription drug coverage through both a Medicare Advantage Plan and a Medicare Prescription Drug Plan. If you're in a Medicare Advantage Plan that includes drug coverage and you join a Medicare Prescription Drug Plan, you'll be disenrolled from your Medicare Advantage Plan and returned to Original Medicare.