Before you choose to enroll in a private Medicare Advantage (MA) health plan, you should check to see what costs you may have. These costs may include:
- A monthly plan premium. In 2014, the average MA plan premium will be $32.60, but this premium may vary significantly between plans.
- An annual deductible.
- Copayments for services, such as doctors’ visits. These copayments may be different than the ones under Original Medicare.
- Additional costs to see providers out of your network.
Note that you must have Medicare Parts A and B to join a Medicare Advantage plan. You pay your usual Part B premium plus any additional premium that the plan may charge. Some MA plans may pay a portion of your Part B premium; check with the plan to see if this is the case.
Each year, plans establish the amounts they charge for premiums, deductibles, and services. Each Medicare Advantage (MA) plan can charge different out-of-pocket costs and have different rules for how you get services (like whether you need a referral to see a specialist or if you have to go to only doctors, facilities, or suppliers that belong to the plan for non-emergency or non-urgent care). These rules can change each year, but what you pay may change only once a year, on January 1. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, the average limit on out of pocket spending for MA plans in 2014 is $4,797.
You can compare the costs of Medicare Advantage plans online at Medicare.gov.
You can also take the Medicare QuickCheck™ to explore costs and see if a private plan might be appropriate for your situation.