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How Do Medicare Advantage Plans Work in Maryland?



Baltimore, Maryland
Baltimore, Maryland
Until recently, there was only one way to go when it came to Medicare coverage.  First you would acquire Medicare coverage.  You would then supplement your coverage by purchasing a Medicare Supplement plan.  A stand-alone Medicare plan contains "gaps" in coverage that can lead to significant out-of-pocket costs for several possible medical circumstances.  There are a variety of Medicare supplement health plan options that provide different levels of supplement protection.  The various plan types are designated by letters of the alphabet (A-N).  Generally, the more comprehensive the coverage, the higher the cost of the supplement plan.

Good to know:  Ask an advocate to work for you.  "If you receive a large bill for services, following an ER visit or surgery, for example, and you don't understand how to read it, hire a medical billing advocate to assist you," suggests Ruth Linden, founder of Tree of Life Advocates in San Francisco.  "She or he will not charge you if everything is in order.  On the other hand, if errors or a questionable charge is found, the typical billing advocate may charge you one-third to one-half of the amount they save you.  Your cost savings could run into thousands of dollars."  This can be especially important if you're dealing with a complex medical issue that requires significant, and expensive care.  Some insurance companies have even begun offering their own advocates, such as UnitedHealthcare's Advocate4Me program, which provides a single point of contact with an expert who can help you understand your coverage and find the help you need.

In Maryland, Medicare Advantage Plans are an "all in one" alternative to the Original Medicare / Medicare Supplement plan arrangement.  These plans are offered by private companies approved by Medicare.  If you join a Medicare Advantage Plan, you still have Medicare.  These "all in one" plans include Medicare Part A (Hospital Insurance) and Medicare Part B (Medical Insurance), and usually Medicare prescription drug (Part D).

Medicare Advantage Plans cover all services covered by original Medicare.  In addition, Advantage plans are required to offer at least the same level of coverage as the Original Medicare Part A and Part B coverage.  In almost every case, Advantage plans feature several attractive additional benefits that are not covered by original Medicare.  Dependent upon which Maryland advantage plan you choose, these benefits may include coverage for vision care, hearing aids, dental care, prescription drug coverage, transportation to and from medical facilities, and even fitness center membership.  The end result is a very comprehensive medical insurance plan.

Improvements for 2020

What's new?  Beginning in 2020, Medicare Advantage plans will have the option of covering several items that you would not expect to be covered by any health insurance plan.  Such as for example, a person with diabetes could receive transportation to a doctor's appointment, to a diabetes education program, or to a meeting with a nutritionist.  Some Medicare Advantage plans will even pay for cooking classes as part of improving someone's eating habits!  For someone with heart disease, a Medicare Advantage plan could provide heart-healthy produce or other foods that promote heart health.  For asthma, the plan could cover air cleaners or even pay to shampoo a subscriber's carpet to remove the irritants that often trigger asthma attacks.  2020 will see a host of new, attractive, Medicare Advantage Plan Benefits.

If you enroll in a Medicare Advantage plan, you continue to pay your Medicare Part B premium.  The private insurer determines what the Medicare Advantage plan premium will be.  This premium amount will vary from one plan style to another.

Medicare Advantage plans tend to be significantly less expensive than Medicare Supplement coverage.  Some Medicare Advantage plans may have premiums as low as $0.

Copay costs may also be less with a Medicare Advantage plan.  For, example, if you visit a primary care physician under a Medicare Advantage plan, you may pay a copayment of $10.  However, if you visit a primary care physician under Original Medicare, you may have a coinsurance of 20%, which could be significantly more than $10.

A Medicare Advantage plan will limit your maximum out-of-pocket expense.  Once you have spent that maximum, you pay nothing for covered medical services for the remainder of the year.

Good to know:  If you just can't find a plan that is both within your price range and contains the health benefits you need, an alternative health plan might be what you need.  If individual plans are too expensive, offer too much, or offer too little - don't think you have nowhere to go.  There are low-cost health insurance alternatives, like short term health insurance and health care sharing plans.
Each plan has its own terms and limitations, so be sure to check the official plan documents to understand how each plan works.

Medicare Advantage Rules and Guidelines

Medicare pays a fixed amount for your care each month to the companies offering Medicare Advantage Plans.  In turn, these companies must follow rules set by Medicare.

Each Medicare Advantage Plan can charge different Out-of-pocket costs.  They can also have different rules for how you get services – for example:

  • Whether you need a referral to see a specialist.
  • What shared medical costs you are responsible for.


Which Medicare Avantage Plan Carriers Are Available in Maryland?

Following is a list of some of the insurance companies that offer Medicare Advantage plans in Maryland:

  • Johns Hopkins HealthCare - Maryland. (Several plan variations)
  • Aetna - Maryland. (Several plan variations)
  • Kaiser - Maryland. (Several plan variations)
  • UnitedHealthcare. (Several plan variations)
  • AARP. (Several plan variations)

Good to know:  If there is a deadline associated with your health insurance purchase, be sure you know exactly when it is.  Make specific note of the timeline for enrollment, and give yourself plenty of time to research your plan choices before the deadline arrives.  Let's face it.  It's easy to put off a purchase such as health insurance - largely because there is no immediate impact if you delay.  So, commit to finishing the task early.  You don't want to be scrambling for answers at the last minute.

For more information concerning Medicare Advantage, Medicare Supplement or Medicare Prescription Drug Plans, please give us a call.


Other articles:
Medicare Supplement Insurance Rates in Maryland.
Medicare Supplement Vs Medicare Advantage Plans.
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