By David Forbes
If you watch TV, you probably have seen one or more advertisements for Medicare plans. Many of these plans are offered by United Health Care. They offer Medicare supplements, also known as Medigap, and Medicare Advantage Plans. But which type of plan is Medicare Complete?
Many people refer to all Medicare plans offered by private insurance companies as supplements. But this is not the case. Medicare supplements and Medicare Advantage Plans are two distinct types of plans. This misunderstanding leaves people confused about Medicare Complete. Before we unravel the mystery of Medicare Complete, let's take a look at the difference between a supplement and an Advantage plan.
Medicare supplement - A supplement or Medigap insurance is an insurance policy that is offered by a private insurance company to fill the gaps left by Medicare. When Medicare was enacted in 1966, it was not meant to be totally comprehensive coverage. The beneficiary is responsible for a certain level of cost sharing. In general terms, the beneficiary is responsible for a hospital deductible, co-pays after extended hospital stays and 20% of outpatient expenses.
Medicare Advantage Plan - An Advantage Plan is also offered by a private insurance company, but instead of filling the gaps left by Medicare, the Advantage Plan is another way to receive your Medicare benefits. Insurance companies contract with and are approved by CMS (Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services) to administer your Medicare. Plans are required to meet certain criteria, and in many cases offer benefits beyond conventional Medicare. You may still have cost sharing, but it is in the form of deductibles, co-pays and co-insurance. Plans typically include a maximum out-of-pocket expense. Advantage Plans often include Part D prescription drug coverage.
Setting the record straight. Medicare Complete is a Medicare Advantage Plan. Offered in some service areas as a PPO and offered in others as a HMO, Medicare Complete does not fill the gaps left by Medicare, but rather is an Advantage Plan with predetermined out-of-pockets costs. Unlike a standardized supplement, Medicare Complete may have varying levels of coverage and benefits depending on the plan's service area. You may have a regional PPO plan available in your County, while someone in a neighboring County may have Medicare Complete available as a HMO plan.
If you are looking for a plan that includes Part D drug coverage and a low monthly cost, then you may want to take a look at Medicare Complete when you are comparing Medicare Advantage Plans. If on the other hand, you don't mind a higher monthly premium and are looking for a plan that will fill the gaps left by Medicare, you may want to consider a Medicare supplement.
Determining if Medicare Complete is right for you.
Here are some things to consider when determining whether Medicare Complete is the best plan for your needs.
Is the plan affordable? This means affordable, not only as far as any premium that may be required (there may not be one!), but also the amount of cost sharing that may be required to use the plan.
Do you feel comfortable with the plan's provider network? In many service areas Medicare Complete has a strong network, but you need to investigate this for yourself.
Does the plan offer as many extra benefits as other Advantage Plans that may be available to you? Many plans offer dental, vision, hearing and in many cases the Silver Sneakers program.
Do you feel that the maximum amount out-of-pocket that you could incur is reasonable compared to paying a higher monthly premium for a supplement? If the maximum annual amount is high and you have several costly health conditions, you may want to consider whether a supplement would be a better option.
Choosing a Medicare Advantage Plan is an important decision, but armed with the right information, it does not need to be overwhelming. Now that you know that Medicare Complete is an Advantage Plan, it is up to you to do your homework and determine if the plan is right for you.
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