Kiplinger Today


Pros and Cons of Private Medicare Advantage Plans

Private Medicare Advantage plans can be a good deal for seniors looking for all-in-one medical and drug coverage. There are three types of policies -- Medicare HMOs, which charge the lowest premiums but impose the most restrictions on which doctors and hospitals you can use; regional preferred-provider organizations, which offer discounts if you use in-network doctors and hospitals; and private fee-for-service plans, which let you use any doctor or hospital that accepts the plan’s terms.

Medicare Advantage plans may charge lower premiums than you’d pay for Medicare plus a medigap policy and Part D prescription-drug coverage. But you could end up paying higher out-of-pocket costs throughout the year.

Some Medicare Advantage plans charge higher co-payments for big-ticket items such as hospitalization, or for critical services such as chemotherapy. Or they might not pay for the first 20 days in a skilled-nursing facility (which traditional Medicare covers). In addition, a plan may provide limited coverage if you travel out of state.

Instead of simply responding to a sales pitch from an insurance agent or to an ad, check all of the Medicare options in your area. Compare plans using the Medicare Options Compare tool at, looking at both premiums and total estimated costs for people like yourself.

How to Spot a Health Care Scam
Health Care Shock in Retirement


Permission to post your comment is assumed when you submit it. The name you provide will be used to identify your post, and NOT your e-mail address. We reserve the right to excerpt or edit any posted comments for clarity, appropriateness, civility, and relevance to the topic.
View our full privacy policy


Market Update