PART C / MA PLANS
Medicare Advantage Plans, sometimes called "Part C" or "MA Plans," are an “all in one” alternative to Original Medicare. They are offered by private companies approved by Medicare. If you join a Medicare Advantage Plan, you still have Medicare. These "bundled" plans include Medicare Part A (Hospital Insurance) and Medicare Part B (Medical Insurance), and usually Medicare prescription drug (Part D).
Medicare Advantage Plans must cover all of the services that Original Medicare covers. However, if you’re in a Medicare Advantage Plan, Original Medicare will still cover the cost for hospice care, some new Medicare benefits, and some costs for clinical research studies. In all types of Medicare Advantage Plans, you're always covered for emergency and urgently needed care.
The plan can choose not to cover the costs of services that aren't medically necessary under Medicare. If you're not sure whether a service is covered, check with your provider before you get the service.
Most Medicare Advantage Plans offer coverage for things that aren't covered by Original Medicare, like vision, hearing, dental, and wellness programs (like gym memberships). Plans can also cover more extra benefits than they have in the past, including services like transportation to doctor visits, over-the-counter drugs, adult day-care services, and other health-related services that promote your health and wellness. Plans can also tailor their benefit packages to offer these new benefits to certain chronically ill enrollees. These packages will provide benefits customized to treat those conditions. Check with the plan to see what benefits are offered and if you qualify. 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. In 2020 the standard Part B premium amount is $144.50 (or higher depending on your income).
If you need a service that the plan says isn't medically necessary, you may have to pay all the costs of the service. But, you have the right to appeal the decision.
You (or a provider acting on your behalf) can request to see if an item or service will be covered by the plan in advance. Sometimes you must do this for the service to be covered. This is called an “organization determination.” If your plan denies coverage, the plan must tell you in writing.
You don’t have to pay more than the plan’s usual cost-sharing for a service or supply if a network provider didn’t get an organization determination and either of these is true:
The provider gave you or referred you for services or supplies that you reasonably thought would be covered.
The provider referred you to an out-of-network provider for plan-covered services.
Medicare pays a fixed amount for your care each month to the companies offering Medicare Advantage Plans. These companies must follow rules set by Medicare.
Each Medicare Advantage Plan can charge different out-of-pocket costs. They can also have different rules for how you get services, like:
Whether you need a referral to see a specialist
If you have to go to doctors, facilities, or suppliers that belong to the plan for non-emergency or non-urgent care.
These rules can change each year.