As Americans reach the age of 65, they become eligible for Medicare benefits as per the Social Security Act. The Medicare program consists of parts A, B, C, and D, and Medicare Advantage (MA) is Part C of the program. MA plans are Medicare-approved health insurance plans offered by private insurance companies that offer comprehensive healthcare coverage, including prescription drug coverage. At the end of 2023, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) announced new changes to the Medicare Advantage program that will take effect in 2024. In this blog post, we’ll discuss a beginner’s guide to Medicare Advantage Plans 2024.
Understanding Medicare Advantage plans
Medicare Advantage plans are an all-in-one alternative to Original Medicare (Parts A and B) and usually include extra benefits like prescription drug coverage, vision, dental, and hearing coverage. Enrollment is open to Americans aged 65 and over who have immigration status as a permanent resident. Private health insurance companies contract with Medicare to provide Medicare Advantage plans to eligible beneficiaries. In the current year, there are 4,800 MA plans, with more than 27 million beneficiaries joining the program. In Medicare Advantage 2024, beneficiaries will have access to additional benefits, making the plan even more appealing.
Changes to Medicare Advantage Plans in 2024
CMS announced new changes to the Medicare Advantage program, which will take effect on Jan. 1, 2024. Beginning in 2024, health plans will be required to offer three-quarters of all their approved supplemental benefits to all enrollees, not just those with specific conditions. Expanding supplemental benefits can be custom-tailored to address beneficiaries’ needs beyond traditional medical care, such as non-surgical procedures, meal delivery, air conditioners, and expanded telehealth coverage. Additionally, the maximum out-of-pocket limit for in-network services in all MA plans will be lowered to $7,550 in 2024.
Medicare Advantage vs. Original Medicare
Original Medicare includes Parts A and B, but MA plans typically combine Parts A, B, and D, plus extra benefits. Medicare Advantage is for people who want more comprehensive coverage than Original Medicare. The costs of Medicare Advantage plans vary. Beneficiaries must pay for their Part B premiums to cover medical services and may pay an additional monthly premium based on the coverage the plan offers. Unlike Original Medicare, MA plans have maximum out-of-pocket limits, and beneficiaries are protected from catastrophic medical costs.
Choosing the right Medicare Advantage Plan
There are many Medicare Advantage plans available, and choosing the right one can be overwhelming. The decision is highly personal and depends on your specific medical needs, budget, doctor availability, supplemental benefits, and medications. You can compare MA plans in your area using Medicare’s Plan Finder tool. Be sure to review the plan’s total costs, including deductibles, copays, and premiums, as well as provider networks, prescription drug coverage, and supplemental benefits.
Enrolling in a Medicare Advantage Plan
Enrolling in a Medicare Advantage plan 2024 is easy. You can join a Medicare Advantage plan when you first become eligible for Medicare, during the Annual Election Period (AEP) between Oct. 15 and Dec. 7 each year, or during a Special Enrollment Period (SEP), depending on your circumstances. Once you find the right MA plan, you can enroll online, by phone, or by mail.
Medicare Advantage plans offer Americans aged 65 years or older an alternative to Original Medicare. In 2024, Medicare Advantage plans will offer additional benefits, making them more attractive to beneficiaries. It’s essential to understand the plan’s benefits and costs and choose a plan that fits your specific needs, doctor availability, and budget. By comparing MA plans using Medicare’s Plan Finder tool and enrolling during the AEP or SEP, you can enroll in a plan that offers comprehensive health care coverage and peace of mind. Make sure to review all the benefits of the Medicare Advantage plans in 2024 so that you can choose the best plan for your needs.