Enrolling in 2018 Medicare Advantage Plans
During Medicare Open Enrollment, you can choose to keep your old plan or switch to a new one. This includes 2018 Medicare Advantage plans and stand-alone Part D plans. These are a few tips to keep in mind:
- You must qualify for Original Medicare, both Part A and B, to qualify for enrollment in Medicare Advantage.
- If you only have Original Medicare, a Medicare supplement, or any other healthcare for seniors that doesn’t include prescription insurance, you will need Part D for drug coverage and to avoid future penalties.
- Most of today’s HMO plans and PPO plans you will find will include prescription coverage, but they don’t have to.
- The Open Enrollment for Medicare Advantage and Part D isn’t the same as the Open Enrollment for Obamacare and the Affordable Care Act.
Facts About the 2018 Medicare Advantage Market
According to a 2017 Kaiser report on Medicare Advantage enrollment:
- Nationwide, just about 33 percent of all seniors have enrolled in Medicare Advantage
- Most enrollees choose HMO plans, also called a Health Maintenance Organization. These usually offer the lowest rates but have more restrictive rules.
- PPO plans rank second in popularity. More people tend to choose them in rural areas or high-income areas because they offer more flexibility to get healthcare outside of a network but may cost more. You are less likely to find a PPO with a zero premium.
The percentage of Medicare recipients who choose Medicare Advantage has also varied by state. This lists the percentage of Medicare Advantage plan penetration in some larger states:
- California: 40 percent
- Florida Medicare Advantage: 42 percent
- New York: 38 percent
- Texas: 33 percent
These states all contain large urban areas, so that may account for the popularity of Medicare Advantage plans in general. You might also compare that to a penetration rate of only three percent in Wyoming and one percent in Alaska. Most Medicare Advantage plans rely upon networks of plan providers, and in these more rural states, there may not be large groups of convenient providers, so Medicare beneficiaries may seek other solutions.
Choosing the Best Rated Medicare Advantage Plans
Recently, a few large health and life insurance companies tend to dominate the market. Very often, they have the resources to provide quality services and market well.
You will probably want to note these nationwide companies:
- AARP Medicare Advantage Plans in 2018: Actually, AARP markets for United Healthcare. United Healthcare has about 24 of total Medicare Advantage enrollment.
- Humana: Humana has 17 percent of all the country’s Medicare Advantage members.
- Blue Cross Blue Shield: Blue Cross Blue Shield affiliated companies account for 13 percent of enrollment. This doesn’t include Anthem companies, which account for another three percent.
A few other companies, including Kaiser, Aetna, Cigna, and Welcare, also have significant shares. Other insurers have a total of 22 percent of the enrollment combined. In some parts of the country, you might find small, regional insurers that can serve you well. For example, some of these plans are associated with local groups of hospitals, so they work well for local people.
Medicare Advantage Star Ratings
To help you shop around for the best rated plans in your own city or town, you might want to pay attention to the star ratings that Medicare assigns. Ratings range to one to five stars, and five stars indicate those plans that Medicare belies have performed very well. They don’t give out five stars that often, so you may not even have a plan with a rating that high in your county. Still, it’s better to consider plans that have a rating of at least four stars.
Compare Medicare Advantage Plans Before Open Enrollment
Have you already enrolled in a Medicare Advantage plan for the current or previous years? If so, you should still take some time to learn how the plan might change and what your other options are for the coming year. In most cases, you will only have one opportunity to switch your healthcare during Open Enrollment.
You can use our simple quote forms to view local Medicare insurance providers right now. These providers can offer you information about competitive plans in your city or town right away.