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How to compare Medicare Plans

Looking for a Great Medicare Plan? How to Compare Medicare Plans in Your Area

Posted on November 10, 2022 by Austin Lang

It’s Easy to Research Medicare Plans!

At least, it’s easy if you use our free comparison tool; but don’t just take our word for it. We mention how you can find an awesome Medicare plan with our comparison tool on every page of this site. 

Today, we’re going a step further: we’re going to show you how to discover Original Medicare and Medicare Advantage plans with our free tools, and give you tips on what to look for when shopping for a Medicare Advantage plan.

Dare to Compare

Balance scales with question marks

The government recommends that any potential enrollee keeps track of seven things when researching Medicare plans.

  • Cost: How much a plan will cost you, including premiums, deductibles, and out-of-pocket maximums. Many Medicare Advantage plans have $0 premiums, but may have higher costs elsewhere. For instance, plans with low premiums, deductibles, and out-of-pocket costs may limit you to a single network. A more flexible plan will adjust one or more of those prices to account for the cost of seeing out-of-network providers.
  • Coverage: All Medicare Advantage plans must cover the same things as Original Medicare. However, many plans offer additional coverage, like dental and vision care.
  • Other Coverage: Consider how Medicare will interact with plans from employers, Medicare, or Tribal Health plans. Be aware that Medicare Advantage plans are usually standalone, and you cannot combine them with Medigap. 
  • Prescription Drugs: Many, but not all Medicare Advantage plans include prescription drug coverage. With Original Medicare, you will need to purchase a separate Part D plan to receive drug coverage. You can combine Medicare Advantage with Medicare Part D, which might be a solid option for you.
  • Network: As a type of private plan, Medicare Advantage depends on insurance networks to work. This may limit your selection of doctors and hospitals. As a general rule, HMOs will require you to use in-network services, while PPOs will allow for more flexibility in exchange for additional fees. 
  • Quality of Care: Medicare Advantage plans are given a star rating by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) based on their quality of care (among other factors like chronic condition coverage). Generally speaking, the more stars, the better!
  • Travel: Most Medicare Advantage plans don’t work on cruises or while traveling overseas, so be aware if this is a concern for you.

This is a lot of stuff to keep track of. Fortunately, our free comparison tool can lay everything out in a neat, easy-to-understand format. Here’s how to make the most of it.

How can I find Medicare plans near me?

Pros and Cons

To start, you can enter your zip code into the field at the top or bottom of every page. Of all the information we ask of you, this is really the only one that is necessary. Clicking the Get Quotes button will take you to a page asking for additional information so we can contact you with more information. Per our privacy policy, all of this information is optional. You can click through this page if you’d rather not provide it.

On the landing page of our comparison tool, you’ll see two options. The option on the right will show you Medicare plans near you, giving you an overview of the land. However, we recommend using the guided tool on the left. Here, you can enter the medications you take, the name of your doctor, your current pharmacy, and an estimate of how frequently you use healthcare services. 

This will help us find plans that suit the current needs of any potential enrollee: we’ll prioritize plans your current doctor and pharmacy will accept and that provide the medications and coverage you need. You can also share what your current Medicare Advantage plan is so that you can compare costs. Don’t worry if you forget something, you can always go back and add or change information using the “About You” bar at the top of your screen.

If you choose to share this information with us, you’ll see an eight-digit alphanumeric code in the top left corner of your screen. This code represents your current session in the comparison tool. If at any point, you feel like you need extra help, you can call a licensed agent at (800) 950-0608 and provide them with your code to pick up where you left off. You can also click the question mark next to your code to get a link you can use to return to your session later.

You’ll be taken to our main comparison page regardless of your choice. Here, you’ll see plans available in your area. By default, our tool shows you plans that include prescription drug coverage. If you prefer, you can look at Medicare Advantage plans and Medicare Part D plans individually by clicking on their respective tabs. 

When looking at a plan, you’ll see something that looks like this:

 

 

Example Plan

Here’s a breakdown of each element.

  1. Plan Name and Network: The plan’s official name, as well as the type of network it has. In this example, the plan is an HMO, meaning it has a strictly defined network. You can filter plans based on their network in the sidebar.
  2. Plan Number: The alphanumeric designation for a plan. This has more detail than the plan’s name, as it also includes details on the plan’s coverage area. Make a note of this number, as it will allow insurance agents to locate the plan you’re asking about much more quickly.
  3. Star Rating: The plan’s 1-5 star rating, as determined by CMS. MedicareInsurance.com has nothing to do with this rating: it is entirely determined by the government. More stars equal a better rating, though a highly rated plan may not cover all of your needs. If you’re only interested in Five Star Plans, you can filter out plans with lower ratings in the sidebar.
  4. Monthly Plan Premium: The monthly cost for the plan. Many Medicare Advantage plans have $0 premiums thanks to government subsidies and other savings. You can sort plans based on their premiums using the sidebar, or using the dropdown on top of the page.
  5. Insurance Provider: The insurance provider offering this plan. We work with a variety of insurance providers, and you can focus on specific providers using the sidebar. 
  6. Medical Costs: This section covers your deductible, copayments, and maximum out-of-pocket expenses. 
  7. Prescription Drug Coverage: This section will show the plan’s deductible if the plan includes Part D coverage. If you tell us which medications you use, it will also tell you how many of them are covered. 
  8. Features: A brief, but not comprehensive overview of benefits the plan offers, such as dental and vision care. 
  9. Compare: Checking this box will save this plan in a bar at the bottom of the page. You can save up to three plans this way, and then click the Compare Plans button to view the Details pages of each plan side by side.
  10. Details: A more detailed view into the plan’s costs and benefits, including copayments for specific services, coverage limits, and any additional benefits like travel coverage. If the plan includes drug coverage, it will also list the price of drugs per tier.
  11. Enroll: This button will take you to our enrollment page. You can either enroll completely online, or fill out your information and then contact us over the phone. 

Pictured Below: Estimated Annual Cost: If you provided specific information, like frequency of hospital visits or any prescription drugs, an estimated annual cost for the plan will be located in the gray bar at the bottom of the entry. This considers copayments, deductibles, premiums, and frequency of use. You can sort plans based on the estimated annual cost using the drop-down menu.

 

Annual Cost

This estimated annual cost is why we recommend you share as much information as you’re comfortable giving, as it gives us a clearer picture of what your plan will actually cost you. It’s not perfect, but it’ll give you a much clearer picture before you decide to become an enrollee.

If you feel overwhelmed or confused at any point during the process, feel free to call us at (800) 950-0608. We’ll help you through the process of finding an excellent Medicare plan that fits your needs. Until then, feel free to play with our comparison tool! There’s no obligation, and you may be surprised by the plans available in your area!

About the Author

Austin Lang

Austin is dedicated to breaking down complex topics, like Medicare, in a way that's easy to understand. He graduated with an M.A. from Florida Atlantic University in 2018.

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