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Medicare: Advantage 101

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Medicare Advantage consists of a variety of products from private insurance companies which substitute for Original Medicare. Today Medicare Advantage includes HMO plans, PPO plans, POS plans, Private Fee-For-Service plans, Medical Savings Account plans and (in a few states) Social/HMO Demonstration Project plans.

Each Medicare Advantage Plan must provide minimum coverage specified by Medicare. A Plan can offer additional services and set its own premiums, deductibles, co-pays and co-insurance. Each Plan must also have appeal procedures. (If a plan does not cover prescription drugs, you can purchase Medicare Part D to cover prescription drugs.

There are special rules with respect to Medicare Advantage HMOs, as well as advantages and disadvantages.

When deciding which medicare advantage plan works for you, take your time to be an informed consumer.

It is easy to enroll or disenroll from a Medicare Advantage plan. You can change Plans every year during a 6 week period known as an Open Enrollment Period. As of 2014, you can also switch plans once a year if the plan to which you switch has a Medicare top five-star quality rating. You can find such plans on Medicare's website at www.medicare.gov offsite link. Look for the plans with a gold star.

You are protected if a Plan terminates.

To learn how to maximize use of a Medicare Advantage plan, see the following:

How To Maximize Use Of An HMO
How To Maximize Use Of A PPO Health Insurance Policy
How To Maximize Use Of A POS Health Insurance Policy
How To Maximize Fee-For-Service Health Insurance

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