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As your 65th birthday approaches, it's time to start sorting through your options with respect to Medicare health coverage. Those options include several add-on components, one of which is Medicare Advantage.
What are Medicare Advantage Plans? Essentially, they allow you to take your Part A and B coverage and transfer their management to a private insurance company - often with insurers you may have already used in the past, like UnitedHealthcare and Blue Cross Blue Shield. Although Advantage Plans come with some limitations - most require you to use in-network practitioners to maximize benefits, for example - they can be attractive for a number of reasons.
Monday, August 2nd
SmartMatch is an excellent resource for researching and buying Medicare Advantage and Medicare Supplement Insurance Plans. This Medicare guidance enrollment service provides quotes from the most reliable insurance companies on the market, and their unbiased licensed insurance agents will help you determine which coverage is right for you - with no pressure to choose any particular plan or insurer. For the most hassle-free experience in researching and buying your Medicare Advantage and Medicare Supplement insurance coverage, you'll want to use SmartMatch.
As one of the big names in the insurance industry for more than 150 years, Aetna will probably come up in your search for the right Medicare Advantage Plan. They offer coverage in most places, though you may find fewer options than some of their rivals. You can complete the entire enrollment process online or with an agent, once you've used the website to get quotes for policies in your area. With an "A+" rating from the BBB, Aetna can be trusted to provide good Medicare Advantage coverage.
Humana frequently comes up when discussing solid options for Medicare Advantage Plans. The company has been around for decades, has a strong reputation with the BBB, and has a variety of plans to choose from in most areas. While the company sometimes gets mixed reviews with respect to customer service, Humana remains one of the most often-quoted providers of Medicare Advantage policies.
SelectQuote, also known as Tiburon, pays great attention to detail during the quote process. Their representative did a great deal to match us with the best Medicare Advantage Plan for our needs. The service has a great reputation and will even stay in contact with you after your policy is in place. The drawback? Actually getting a quote from a licensed agent in your state could take multiple phone calls over several days.
Blue Cross Blue Shield goes by different names depending on where you live. The BCBS has a good overview of Medicare Advantage Plans, and when you enter your zip code you'll be redirected to the affiliate in your state. Those affiliate sites are usually easy to use, and you can typically compare all available plans and pricing. But, we found premiums to be higher than average, some plans didn't include the physicians we preferred, and BCBS affiliates have different levels of customer satisfaction.
Cigna is a name to trust for Medicare Advantage Plans. Their website gives you a hassle-free way to see what policies are available in your area and to complete most of the enrollment process online. Their coverage is competitively priced and most policies have a solid array of perks. Unfortunately, Cigna doesn't offer Medicare Advantage Plans in every location, so you may need to use another insurance company to get coverage.
When it comes to all things "additional Medicare", GoHealth is usually one of the experts. In general, they have a broad network of insurance partners and can match you with the right ones in your area - but unfortunately, we weren't even given the chance to get a quote when we called to get information about Medicare Advantage Plans. Compared with many of the services in our review that were very happy to tell us what was available in our area and what it would cost, GoHealth just didn't offer us anything helpful. Your results may vary, but for several reasons GoHealth gets a low ranking among providers of Medicare Advantage coverage.
Health IQ has made a name for itself by offering lower premiums on life insurance and other coverage to those who have healthy habits like regular exercise and vegetarian diets. Despite having an "A+" and accreditation from the BBB, this referral service wound up at the bottom of our rankings when it comes to Medicare Advantage Plans. Their website doesn't actually give quotes on policies, and we had a less-than-stellar experience when talking with multiple Health IQ reps to try and get information. Look elsewhere for your Medicare Advantage coverage.
Starting your search for Medicare Advantage Plans on the HealthCare site isn't a great idea. You'll either be redirected to the providers themselves (many of which you'll find in our reviews here), or your information will be given to agents and you could get lots of unwanted phone calls and emails. This "service" exists only to make money, not to give you unbiased, helpful information for getting Medicare Advantage coverage. Go to a higher-ranked site for a better customer experience.
Think of it like an all-inclusive resort: you might give up some flexibility in exchange for knowing that everything is taken care of, from meals to entertainment, and you don't have to try and cobble together a plan for your perfect vacation. Similarly, Medicare Advantage bundles up a number of features, many times including prescription drug coverage and even dental/vision/hearing services, that otherwise you'd have to piece together on your own with separate standalone plans.
Medicare Advantage premiums vary by provider and by plan. It's possible to get a policy with $0 in monthly payments, but those tend to come with higher out-of-pocket costs like office visit copays and annual deductibles. It's also important to point out that you can't have an Advantage plan and a Medigap policy at the same time: you'll need to carefully consider your situation - anticipated health needs, your income and ability to pay monthly premiums vs. paying for hospitalizations and other major medical expenses, and so forth - to strategize which additional Medicare coverage you need and when.
There are two main approaches to buying a Medicare Advantage Plan: go directly to an insurance company or work with a broker. Buying your policy right from an insurer can feel more reliable, choosing a company you already know and trust, maybe even one that has been your healthcare insurance provider in the past. You can usually count on premium quotes to be the lowest possible for that particular company. However, going through a broker or a referral service doesn't necessarily mean you'll pay more - and you gain the advantage of getting policy quotes from multiple providers at once. No insurance company is going to tell you that you might get better coverage from a competitor!
Either route you choose, it's a good idea to do some research in advance: to familiarize yourself with the different Medicare Advantage Plans, their benefits and their average premium costs for someone in your demographic (age, gender, location, etc.). Otherwise you could find yourself feeling pressured to commit to a policy that might not be the best fit for your needs. There are many websites, offered both by brokers/referral services and by the insurance companies themselves, with helpful articles and tools to help you figure out what coverage is best suited to you. Also, be aware that in order to apply for any Medicare Advantage Plan, you'll need to have your Medicare number - so make sure you've taken the steps to enroll in Medicare before choosing your Advantage coverage.
TopConsumerReviews.com has reviewed and ranked the best Medicare Advantage Plans available today. We hope our in-depth evaluations save you some time and hassle - by providing the detailed information you need to select the best provider and plan for your coverage!
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