How to Choose the Right Medicare Advantage Plan for You

Are you trying to choose the right Medicare Advantage Plan to suit your needs? With so many options available, it can be difficult to know where to start. That’s why we’ve created this comprehensive guide to help you understand what Medicare Advantage Plans are, why they’re important, and how to choose the right one for you.

What is a Medicare Advantage Plan?

Medicare Advantage Plan, also known as Medicare Part C, is a type of Medicare health plan offered by private insurance companies that contract with Medicare to provide you with all your Part A(hospital insurance) and Part B(medical insurance) benefits. Unlike Original Medicare, Medicare Advantage Plans often include additional benefits such as prescription drug coverage, dental, and vision care.

In general, Medicare Advantage Plans provide healthcare services through a network of providers. The options available for MA plans may vary based on the county.

These are the primary types of Medicare Advantage Plans, including:

How to Choose the Right Medicare Advantage Plan for You

  • Health Maintenance Organizations (HMOs) – the most common type of MA plan which requires the use of in-network providers for all services.
  • Preferred Provider Organizations (PPOs) – the second most common type of MA plan that allows for services from both in-network and out-of-network providers.
  • Private Fee-for-Service (PFFS) – allows you to see Medicare providers who accept the terms of your plan and agree to treat you.
  • Special Needs Plans (SNPs) – limited to people with specific diseases or characteristics, and the benefits and care coordination are tailored to meet the needs of the groups they serve, including:
    • Chronic conditions (C-SNP) for those with severe or disabling conditions.
    • Dual eligible (D-SNP) for those who have Medicare and Medicaid.
    •  Institutional (I-SNP) for those who live in an institution such as a nursing home or who need home nursing care.

There are also two less common types of Medicare Advantage Plans, which are:

  1. HMO Point of Service (HMO-POS) – an HMO plan that allows for certain services to be received outside the network.
  2. Medicare Medical Savings Account (MSA) – a combination of a high-deductible Medicare Advantage Plan and a Medicare-funded savings account. You are responsible for paying for healthcare expenses using the savings account and any remaining out-of-pocket expenses until your MA deductible is met.

Why is it Important to Choose the Right Medicare Advantage Plan?

Your health is your top priority, and choosing the right Medicare Advantage Plan is an essential part of ensuring that you receive the best possible care. By selecting the right plan, you can take advantage of additional benefits, lower costs, and a more comprehensive range of coverage options.

With numerous Medicare coverage options available, such as Medicare Supplement Plans and Medicare Prescription Drug Plans, it is important to carefully compare the different plans to determine which one best fits your individual needs

How Do You Compare Medicare Advantage Plans?

When selecting a Medicare Advantage plan, it’s important to consider a few key factors to ensure you find the right plan for you. As the Medicare plans market continues to evolve, here are some factors to keep in mind:

Determine your budget and potential healthcare costs

When choosing a Medicare Advantage Plan, there are various costs to keep in mind, including:

  1. Monthly premiums – A monthly fee you pay for your plan, even if you don’t use any benefits. Some plans have no premium but have limited coverage, while others have a premium for added benefits. To enroll in a Medicare Advantage Plan, you must be a part of Medicare Part A and B, so you’ll still pay the monthly premiums for these parts.
  2. Deductibles – This is the amount you pay before your plan starts covering the cost of your health and drug benefits.
  3. Copays and coinsurance – Your share of the cost for services and drugs, either as a fixed amount (copay) or a percentage (coinsurance).
  4. Maximum out-of-pocket limits – The highest amount you’ll pay, including deductibles, copays, and coinsurance, for Medicare-covered Part A and B services in a year. Monthly premiums or expenses for drugs or extra benefits are not included in the out-of-pocket max.

To keep costs low, it’s recommended to receive services and prescription drugs from the plan’s in-network providers and pharmacies. Each plan that provides drug coverage has its own formulary, and generic drugs are typically less expensive than brand-name or specialty drugs.

Remember, you must follow the rules of your plan to get benefits covered. For instance, you may need a referral to see a specialist or prior authorization for a drug or treatment.

The costs for each plan can be found on, but be sure to check the plan’s Evidence of Coverage document for details on benefits, cost-sharing, and rules.

Aside from these tangible costs, there are other intangible factors to consider when choosing a Medicare Advantage Plan, such as the quality of care and access to providers, travel plans, and the need for extra benefits like dental, vision, and hearing coverage. Think about your medical history, past experiences with the healthcare system, and personal priorities when selecting a plan that’s right for you.

CMS Star Ratings Evaluation

The CMS (Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services) has created a 5-star rating system to evaluate the quality of services provided by Medicare Advantage and Medicare Part D (prescription drug) plans. Annually, the CMS makes these ratings and related data publicly available.

When searching for the best Medicare Advantage plan, the CMS ratings can be a helpful starting point. Take the time to research these plans to gain insight into what coverage is provided and its cost.

To view all available 2022 star ratings for Medicare Part C and D, visit and access the 2022 Part C and D Medicare Star Ratings Data.

Evaluate Your Coverage Needs

All Medicare Advantage plans provide the same coverage as original Medicare, which includes hospitalization coverage (Part A) and medical coverage (Part B).

When choosing a Medicare Advantage plan, it is important to consider what additional coverage you require beyond what is already covered.

Most Medicare Advantage plans offer one or more of the following additional coverage options:

  • Prescription drug coverage
  • Dental coverage, including annual exams and procedures
  • Vision coverage, including annual exams and vision devices
  • Hearing coverage, including exams and hearing devices
  • Fitness memberships
  • Medical transportation
  • Additional healthcare benefits
  • Consider Your Existing Benefits

If you are currently receiving other healthcare benefits, this can impact the type of Medicare Advantage plan you choose.

For instance, if you have already enrolled in original Medicare and have added Part D plan or Medigap Plans, many of your needs may already be satisfied.

It is always a good idea to compare coverage options to determine if a Medicare Advantage plan would be a better fit or more cost-effective for you.

When do you sign up for a Medicare Advantage plan?

To join a Medicare Advantage Plan, you must be enrolled in both Parts A and B of Original Medicare. The enrollment periods for Medicare Advantage plans are:

  1. Initial Enrollment Period (IEP) – This seven-month window starts three months before your 65th birthday, includes your birthday month, and ends three months later.
  2. Annual Enrollment Period (October 15 to December 7) – This is when you can join a Medicare Advantage Plan or switch to a different one.
  3. Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period (January 1 to March 31) – This is when you can switch from one MA plan to another.
  4. April 1 to June 30 – You can join a Medicare Advantage Plan if you first enrolled in Part B during the General Enrollment Period (January 1 to March 31).
  5. Special Enrollment Period (SEP) – If your circumstances change, such as moving or losing employer-sponsored coverage, you may qualify for a SEP. The rules depend on your specific situation.
  6. Five-star enrollment period – If a five-star plan becomes available in your area between December 8 and November 30, you can switch to it once.


Q: How do I choose the right Medicare Advantage Plan for me?

A: To choose the right Medicare Advantage Plan for you, you should consider your health needs and budget. Look at the plan’s benefits, costs, and network of doctors and hospitals to make sure they meet your needs. You may also want to consider any additional benefits, such as prescription drug coverage, that the plan offers.

Q: What is the cost of a Medicare Advantage Plan?

A: The cost of a Medicare Advantage Plan varies depending on the plan and the insurance company offering it. You will typically pay a monthly premium in addition to your Medicare Part B premium. Some plans may have deductibles, copayments, or coinsurance that you will need to pay.

Q: Can I switch Medicare Advantage Plans?

A: Yes, you can switch Medicare Advantage Plans during the Annual Enrollment Period (AEP) from October 15 to December 7 each year. You can also switch plans during the Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period (OEP) from January 1 to March 31 each year.

Final Word

There are several considerations that can impact your selection of a Medicare Advantage plan. These include the CMS star rating, your coverage priorities and healthcare requirements, your budget, and any existing insurance you may have.

It is crucial to sign up for Medicare prior to turning 65 in order to avoid a lapse in medical coverage. Remember, you have the option to explore different Medicare Advantage plans to find the best fit for your individual needs.

Need help? Call Health Plans in Oregon: 503-928-6918. Our assistance is at no cost to you.

*By completing this form, you agree that an authorized representative or licensed insurance agent may contact you by phone,email,text, mail or face to face to answer your questions or provide additional information about your Medicare plan options. Not affiliated or endorsed by Medicare or any state or federal governmental agency.

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