A Medicare Advantage Plan (like an HMO or PPO) is another Medicare health plan choice you may have as part of Medicare. 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 will get your Part A (Hospital Insurance) and Part B (Medical Insurance) coverage from the Medicare Advantage Plan and not Original Medicare. In all types of Medicare Advantage Plans, you’re always covered for emergency and urgent care. Medicare Advantage Plans must cover all of the services that Original Medicare covers except hospice care. Original Medicare covers hospice care even if you’re in a Medicare Advantage Plan. Medicare Advantage Plans aren’t supplemental coverage.
Medicare Advantage Plans may offer extra coverage, such as vision, hearing, dental, and/or health and wellness programs. Most include Medicare prescription drug coverage (Part D). In addition to your Part B premium, you usually pay a monthly premium for the Medicare Advantage Plan.
As with standard managed-care programs, Medicare pays a fixed amount for your care every 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 only doctors, facilities, or suppliers that belong to the plan for non-emergency or non-urgent care). These rules can change each year.
The New Mexico Bar Association makes an interesting point: People concerned about medical privacy may prefer MA plans because they do not report individual claims to the main Medicare system. Specifically:
If you are enrolled in a managed care plan or a private fee-for-service plan (Medicare Advantage Plan), Medicare claims are not filed. Medicare pays these private insurance companies a set fee each month, eliminating the need to file Medicare claims.