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Is Medicare Advantage for you?

By Jennie L. Phipps ·
Thursday, October 13, 2011
Posted: 3 pm ET

If you are considering enrolling in a Medicare Advantage plan during this year's open enrollment, which starts Saturday, Oct. 15 and ends Dec. 7 -- earlier than it has in previous years -- be prepared to do some research. This is not a retirement planning decision to be made lightly.

Here's some advice, some of it from

  • Who will be your doctor? Does your doctor participate in the Medicare Advantage plan you are contemplating? If he doesn't, who will you choose? Are there conveniently located physicians in this plan who are taking new patients?
  • Talk to your current doctor. If your doctor participants in the plan you're contemplating, talk to him or her and to the office staff. They know all the good things and all the warts, so pick their brains.
  • What other facilities are in the plan? Which specialists, hospitals, home health agencies and skilled nursing facilities will you use if you choose this plan? If you don't find them convenient now, they will be even less convenient if you have to use them frequently.
  • What will you pay? How much will it cost to see your primary care physician? What is the cost and what are the roadblocks to seeing a specialist?
  • How is out-of-network care handled? What if you get sick when you're spending part of your retirement in Florida, for instance? Will you be able to get care under the plan and how much will it cost?
  • Talk to other participants. Ask around until you find some people who are in this plan and get their feedback.
  • How stable is the plan? Medicare lets participating insurers drop their Medicare Advantage plans annually, so you could sign up this year and be out of luck next year.
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1 Comment
Barret Blecker
October 29, 2011 at 2:49 pm

How does one estimate, in dollars and cents, whether medigap plan or a Medicare Advantage would cost less, including premiums, deductibles, copays, and co-insurance? And how does one determine, considering their relative ratings, which company would cost less? Variables would include prescription drugs...would it be better , and cheaper to have a Medicare Advantage plan with coverage of the individual's specific drugs, or would a medigap plan plus Part D insurance be better?

The site is woefully deficient in helping make these selections. The site ONLY helps choose which Part D insurance plan would cost the least, based on a given list of medications.
Considering my questions in paragraph 1 above, this calculator is presented IN A VACUUM!!! How do I integrate the Medicare parts A/B part C coverage with the drugs I need to arrive at overall lowest cost for me???

I have spent two full days reading the Medicare guides and searching the internet, but I still I have no answers!!