Medicare Advantage plans use managed-care techniques to provide health care services through their network of hospitals, skilled care facilities, doctors, home care agencies, durable medical equipment suppliers, laboratories, pharmacies, and other providers.
Medicare Advantage plans in Rhode Island are available to beneficiaries both over and under 65 years of age. You must continue to pay the monthly Medicare Part B premium. Medicare Advantage plans cover all services that Medicare Part A and B provide. They all offer extensive coverage for medical and surgical care, lab tests and x-rays, diagnostic tests and treatments, therapies, inpatient hospital care, skilled nursing facility care, home health care, and other medical services. In addition, they can offer extra benefits. Some plans charge a monthly premium; some do not. Plans require certain co-payments. Rates for plans do not vary according to age. A person with end stage renal disease cannot enroll into a Medicare Advantage Plan. The only exception is if they are going from a commercial plan to a Medicare Advantage Plan within the same insurance company.
To enroll in a Medicare Advantage care plan, you must:
- Be enrolled in Medicare Parts A and B; and
- Live within the area in which the plan provides services; and
- Cannot be medically determined to have end-stage renal disease (ESRD). If you develop ESRD after you are a member, you may continue to be a member and receive the necessary services through the plan; and
- Sign up during your initial enrollment period (three months immediately before the month your Medicare A and B became effective); during November of any year; during a special enrollment period; or if you move out of you current plan’s service area into another area which has a Medicare managed care plan.
Anyone thinking of joining such a plan should understand:
- You must use the plan’s providers and facilities to minimize your out-of-pocket financial liability. You are not free to go to any physician, hospital, or other provider you choose, unless you choose a plan with an out-of-network benefit.
- You must choose a primary care physician and in some cases, you must receive prior approval of your primary care physician to see a specialist, have surgery, or obtain equipment or other medical services.
It can take up to 30 days to enroll or disenroll.