As the number of retirees continues to rise, so does the number of Medicare beneficiaries. In fact, there are currently over 44 million beneficiaries utilizing Medicare, and this is expected to grow to 79 million by 2030. This rapid growth of Medicare beneficiaries will cause a lot of modifications in Medicare plans, and probably will bring more options that we didn’t even think of. One of the most popular Medicare options today is Medicare Part C, also known as Medicare Advantage.
Why is Medicare Advantage so popular? About one-third of the people enrolled in Medicare are enrolled in Medicare Advantage plans, and this number is rapidly rising. In this guide, we’ll talk about why Medicare Advantage is such a popular option, and how it’s slowly taking over the nation one plan at a time. We will explain how it became so optimized for so many users.
What Is Medicare Advantage?
First, let’s take a closer look at what Medicare Advantage actually is. Medicare is a federally-funded healthcare program that makes healthcare more affordable for those who are 65 years and older. Since the 1970s, Medicare beneficiaries have had the option to get their health benefits through private health insurance instead of traditional federally administered programs.
Now, choosing a private plan is known as choosing Medicare Part C or Medicare Advantage. These private plans have more flexibility and benefits, making them increasingly popular across the nation. These private Medicare plans operate similar to HMOs and PPOs, and these are formats most people are familiar with coming from employer-sponsored coverage. (Source: https://www.healthmarkets.com/medicare/medicare-advantage/)
What Are the Benefits of Medicare Advantage?
Why are so many people opting for Medicare Advantage rather than traditional Medicare coverage through the government? As we mentioned before, this type of Medicare makes it possible for beneficiaries to get Medicare Part A, Part B, Part D, and even supplemental plans through a private insurance company without compromising on care. This makes Medicare Advantage plans really interesting because you don’t feel limited with only one simple plan.
Pros of choosing a Medicare Advantage plan:
- Less expensive – In some cases it costs less to enroll in a Medicare Advantage plan. Because the insurance provider determines the plan’s premium, the cost will vary depending on what you choose. A Medicare Advantage plan also limits your maximum out-of-pocket expenses.
- More benefits – Under the law, Medicare Advantage plans are required to offer at least the same level of coverage as Part A and B, but many plans include added benefits. The most common benefits include coverage for vision care, hearing aids, dental care, drug coverage, and more.
- Coordinate Care – Most typical Medicare Advantage plans are managed like an HMO which means you choose a primary care doctor who helps coordinate all of your care.
- Combined Drug Coverage – Finally, many plans include prescription coverage within your health coverage which is much more convenient.
As you can see, these benefits make Medicare Advantage easier to customize to your specific needs and budget requirements. With the growing popularity of this private option, more insurance providers are becoming even more competitive.
The Future of Medicare Advantage
Medicare Advantage is changing by the year. Because private insurance providers receive funding from the government to offer high levels of care, there’s a push to offer patients more services and benefits. Plans in 2019 offer new benefits like delivery of meals, transportation to physician appointments, and even home safety improvements.
There’s also a push for more preventative care. These are known as “flex benefits” and they encourage patients to seek preventative treatment for high-cost diseases and illnesses. There’s a new wave of benefits expected in the following years as well, so it’s no wonder these plans are so popular.
Our federal administration has done a good job creating two systems: one with rules and regulations by the government and one that’s a managed private program. As you can see, the managed private program is rapidly evolving to include favorable benefits.
Beneficiaries are voluntarily leaving original Medicare in favor of the private option, something not seen in traditional healthcare where private costs skyrocket. The rest of our health insurance industry can stand to learn a lot from Medicare Advantage.