Medicare Advantage plans are options approved by Medicare but run by private companies. They are part of the Medicare Program. With Medicare Advantage plans, you generally get all your Medicare-covered health care through that plan. Coverage can include prescription drug coverage. You may get extra benefits, such as coverage for vision, hearing, dental, and/or health and wellness programs.
You may have to use the plan’s doctors and hospitals to get services—but you don't need to buy a Medigap policy.
Medicare Advantage plans usually take the form of a specific type of managed-care program: HMO, PPO, POS or PFFS. And these plans may require a monthly premium in addition to your Part B premium.
Also, Medicare Advantage plans serve geographic areas, offering comprehensive health benefits that can include prescription drug coverage. You can go to www.medicare.gov for a list of the plans serving your county, or call OSHIIP at 1.800.686.1578.
Some questions to consider when choosing among Part C plans:
Are you doctors and hospitals in the plan’s network? Is there an additional monthly premium (above the Part B amount) and, if so, how much is it? What are the copayments or other out-of-pocket costs for hospital stays, emergency room visits, doctor’s office visits, specialist visits, alternative therapy (acupuncture, chiropractic, etc.), preventive care, ambulance services?
One last point: Each year, private companies offering Medicare Advantage plans must apply to the federal government and meet requirements in order to offer their plans in your area. Some companies choose not to re-apply. That's why it's important to review your options every fall.