Medicare Part C
Medicare Part C, also know as Medicare Advantage Plans, are Medicare Health Plans offered through a private insurance company. There are quite-a-few misconceptions on Medicare Advantage Plans, with the biggest being that you will lose your Medicare if you sign up for one. This is not true. You actually have to be enrolled in Medicare Parts A and B before you are eligible to enroll in a Medicare Advantage Plan. You do not lose your Medicare, but you are choosing a private insurance company that is contracted with Medicare to provide your Part A (Hospital Service), your Part B (Medical Services), and some plans even offer your Part D Prescription Drug coveragen. This is an alternative to Origianl Medicare as your primary insurance, which is sometime referred to as "Managed Care". When you sign up for a Medicare Advantage Plan, you will now have your claims sent to the private insurance comapny, not Medicare.
Important notes on Medicare Advantage Plans are:
- They are network based plans (i.e. HMOs or PPOs).
- They are designed to offer inpatient (Part A), outpatient (Part B), and most have your prescription drug (Part D) coverage built in.
- These Plans are county specific. Make sure to know if plans you are looking at are in the county you live in.
- Premiums are usually lower for these plans, but compared to Medicare with a Medicare supplement plan, your out-of-pocket risk could be more.
The best advice I can give if you are interested in more information on Medicare Advantage Plans is to talk to an agent, preferably a local one. This is due to the county specific design and networks of doctors and hospitals that will work with each plan.