Medicare Advantage Plan choices have increased by seven percent since the last open enrollment period. And, there are now more plan choices with five- and four-star ratings. This means you have more chances to get a plan that fits your needs just right. But, that’s not the only reason why the 2013 Medicare open enrollment should not be missed.
According to the Wall Street Journal, the premiums for Medicare Advantage plans and Part D plans have barely risen. For 2013, monthly premiums for Medicare Advantage plans will only be increasing by an average of $1.47. That’s a mere 4.7 percent. The Wall Street Journal also reported that Part D prescription drug plans will only average about fifty cents more per month.
And, Health and Human Services says that 26 different Medicare Advantage plans are available in most counties. So, 99.7 percent of beneficiaries have a choice of a couple dozen different plans. About 88 percent of beneficiaries can also enroll in an Advantage plan that offers prescription drug coverage, too.
Insurance companies who offer Medicare Advantage plans are paid a subsidy by the federal government to provide Part A and Part B benefits. This subsidy is the reason that some beneficiaries are finding plans with $0 premiums. You do have to pay regular Part B premiums to have an Advantage plan, though.
Medicare Advantage plans are also popular because many cover types of health care that aren’t included in original Medicare. Certain Advantage plans help with eyeglasses, hearing aids, and even dental care. There’s also a new trend to cover health club memberships, and the amenities that come with them like saunas, steam rooms, swimming pools, whirlpools, etc.
Even though Advantage plans often add on benefits beyond those of standard Medicare, how you get these benefits is different from how Medicare operates. Doctors decide whether they will treat patients with Medicare. Advantage plans contract with specific providers. So, unless you’re experiencing an emergency, your Advantage plan will probably only cover services from doctors with whom contracts have been negotiated. Always take a look at an Advantage plan’s list of providers to see whether your doctor is covered before you apply.

Wiley Long is founder and president of Medigap Advisors, and is passionate about helping people navigate the confusing waters of Medicare. He is the author of The Medicare Playbook: Designing Your Successful Health Coverage Strategy, a clear and simple explanation so you can make the most of your Medicare coverage. For more information visit