NerdWallet: Medicare Advantage appeals to many older adults, but it’s not always all it’s cracked up to be

by | Feb 8, 2023 | Stock Market

This article is reprinted by permission from NerdWallet.  In 2022, 48% of Medicare beneficiaries were enrolled in Medicare Advantage plans instead of Original Medicare, and experts predict that number will be higher in 2023.

Medicare Advantage plans are offered by private insurers and bundle Medicare benefits in a way many people find appealing — but they also limit care to network providers, often require preapproval to see specialists and can saddle beneficiaries with high out-of-pocket costs for serious conditions. The number of older adults in Medicare Advantage is also notable because financial experts tend to recommend Original Medicare with medigap.  “I help my clients with Medicare choices, and what I tell them all is that if you can afford it, you should sign up for traditional Medicare with a Medicare Supplement plan,” says David Haas, a certified financial planner in Franklin Lakes, New Jersey. So why do so many people turn to Medicare Advantage for their health care in retirement? Here are the main factors.Medicare Advantage is often free In 2023, 66% of Medicare Advantage plans with prescription drug coverage have no premium — versus medigap, which has a monthly premium. If you have no health issues, the choice can seem like a no-brainer. “Medicare Advantage is extremely attractive when you’re healthy,” says Leslie T. Beck, a CFP in Rutherford, New Jersey. “But when something happens — and something always happens — and you’re in a Medicare Advantage plan, you can’t switch back. You can switch into regular Medicare, but you’ll never get a medigap policy.” (This is because in all but four states, once you’re past your first 6-month Medigap open enrollment period, you must medically qualify for a Medigap plan. Those with serious health issues may not be able to get a plan.)  Also see: $3,000 a week? The enormous cost of care for elderly loved ones that nobody warns you about.Plans are bundled With Original Medicare, people must juggle …

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