Medicare’s open enrollment period is still underway. And through Dec. 7, existing enrollees have an opportunity to make changes to their coverage.
If you’re currently signed up for original Medicare — meaning, Parts A and B plus a Part D drug plan — then you may be considering moving over to a Medicare Advantage plan for 2024. Doing so might benefit you — or not. Here are some pros and cons to enrolling in Medicare Advantage you should know about.
Pro #1: Your costs might be lower
There are a few reasons why you might end up spending less on healthcare when you enroll in Medicare Advantage. First, some of these plans offer expanded coverage compared to original Medicare at a competitive cost. There are even $0 premium Medicare Advantage plans out there.
Also, with Medicare Advantage, your annual out-of-pocket spending is capped at a certain limit. The same doesn’t hold true for original Medicare Advantage.
Pro #2: You might get access to extra benefits
There are numerous benefits you won’t get coverage for under original Medicare Advantage. These include dental care, eye exams, and hearing aids.
Medicare Advantage plans are known to offer supplemental benefits beyond what original Medicare offers. Some of those benefits might better help you manage chronic conditions and generally help you take better care of yourself.
Con #1: You might end up paying for benefits you don’t get to use
While it’s true that Medicare Advantage plans commonly offer more benefits than original Medicare, having a plan with certain benefits does not guarantee that you’ll be eligible to use them. Some Advantage plans, for example, offer meal delivery and nutrition benefits. But those may only be available to enrollees with documented health conditions that can be improved with those services.
So let’s say you have diabetes. You may, in that case, be eligible for meal delivery. But if you don’t have a condition that’s managed by diet, then you might end up paying for a Medicare Advantage plan that offers meal delivery without actually getting to use that benefit.
Con #2: You may not get to see your preferred providers
Medicare Advantage plans generally limit you to a specific network of providers, whereas with original Medicare, you can usually see any doctor or go to any healthcare facility where Medicare is accepted. That could make it much harder to get the care you need.
As people age, mobility can become more and more of an issue. If you’re already starting to have trouble getting around, moving to a Medicare Advantage plan could mean having to spend more time on the road — and having to deal with more of a hassle — to get access to the care you need.
There are plenty of good reasons to consider signing up for a Medicare Advantage plan during open enrollment. But before you commit to one of these plans, consider the drawbacks. And either way, look at your plan choices carefully before making a decision. If you’re going to move over to Medicare Advantage, it’s essential that you choose a plan that’s cost-effective as well comprehensive and convenient.