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The Many Different Types of Medicare Advantage Plans

Medicare Part C, also known as the Medicare “Advantage” Plan, is a recent addition to Medicare health insurance. It is full of additional options for those receiving healthcare coverage through Medicare. Because it is “privatized,” your insurance company takes over and manages all of your Medicare benefits while following government regulations.

For those receiving Medicare, Part A pays for in-patient care at hospital, hospice care, nursing home care, and in-home medical care. Medicare Part B covers most of a patient’s medical expenses, while Medicare Part B covers nearly all of a patient’s medical expenses for general care by a doctor. Medicare Advantage plans combine everything that Parts A and B cover while also covering the cost of prescription medicines.

Thanks to all of the benefits Medicare Advantage plans offer, they have become very popular. With these plans, Medicare recipients can stay longer in hospitals, pay lower fees for doctor’s visits, and receive prescription drugs at a lower price. Also, recipients no longer need to be referred by a primary physician – you can receive care from the doctor or hospital of your choice without a referral.

Medicare Advantage plans are available throughout the United States through private insurance companies. Under government laws, Part A and Part B are always included in Advantage plans. Medicare Advantage plans can be HMO plans, PPO plans, or Private Fee for Service plans. The most popular choice is the HMO Advantage plan because it allows Medicare recipients to pay low or zero monthly premiums, and the lowest out-of-pocket expenses. Keep in mind that HMO Medicare Advantage plans are only available in metropolitan areas where a large number of Medicare recipients reside.

Conversely, a Medicare PFFS or Private Fee for Service Advantage plan permits the Medicare recipient to see the doctor of their choice as well as any hospital of his or her choice in the United States. Naturally, this type of Medicare Advantage plan is extremely popular among Medicare recipients because of the freedom it allows.

In the United States, Medicare Advantage plans are now offered in 98% of counties. Back in 1996, only a meager 15% of American counties offered these plans. According to the 2007 statistics reported on Medicare Advantage plans, the average American pays $736 in monthly premiums, although the actual monthly payments between states can vary from $500 to over $800 per month.

You should be advised that Medicare plan holders, who do not have End Stage Renal Disease (ESRD), or kidney failure, can qualify for a Medicare advantage plan. For anyone that is suffering from kidney failure, there are some counties that offer plans specifically for those that have kidney failure. Your Medicare plan must cover at least what traditional Medicare does, and it may cover more.

As you can see, the Medicare Advantage plan really does include many advantages. Your doctor visit co-pays are cheaper, prescription drugs cost less, and you have more freedom to choose the doctor and hospital that is right for you.

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