Despite the withdrawal of several companies, some major insurers have decided to continue offering plans. These plans are offered in some parts of the country through private insurance companies, but are still part of the Medicare program. If you want to switch to a Medicare Advantage plan, now is the perfect time. Open enrollment for Medicare Advantage runs from January 1 through March 31. You are eligible for a Medicare Advantage Plan if you currently have Medicare Part A or Part B. However, you should consult doctors and use hospitals within the plan, as you would with an HMO. If you wish to change your plans, please be aware that you cannot cancel Medicare prescription drug coverage. If your current plan has prescription drug coverage, your new plan should have it as well.
For more information about plans available in your area, visit the Medicare website or call their telephone number. Your new plan should take effect on the first day of the month after you receive your request. While still signed up to a government program, the privatized Medicare Advantage plans will replace the benefits to be gotten from the federal government, simply on a privatized scale. Supplements, on the other hand, as indicated by the name “Medigap”, are designed to fill the gaps in the programs offered by the federal government. Supplements act as a supplement to your program, not as a substitute. The reasons why Medigap may be most beneficial to you start with the fact that supplements can be used in doctor’s offices that accept the federal program, while most Advantage plan holders have a network of doctors they should choose to visit to be insured by policies.
If you choose to stay with the original Medicare, you can use any doctor or hospital anywhere in the country as long as they accept Medicare. Many of the leading Medicare Advantage plan providers decided to withdraw from the market in 2010. These are “private service fee” plans available to those covered by Medicare. Funding for these companies was reduced, prompting several companies to make the business decision not to offer these plans anymore. More companies are likely to follow suit after 2010 in light of government efforts to halt these plans. More than 10 million consumers have opted for these plans and many of them will be forced to change insurance plans as they expire at the end of 2009.