2020 Medicare Plan Finder: How to Find the Best Medicare Plan in 2020November 1, 2019
It’s time to start thinking about what you want your Medicare coverage to look like next year. Did your current plan change? Did you develop a new health condition and need more coverage? Are you enrolling in Medicare for the first time?
No matter your situation, the Annual Enrollment Period (AEP) runs from October 15 through December 7. If you used AEP to enroll, your plan became effective on January 1, 2020.
By now, you may have realized that there are hundreds of Medicare plans out there, all offering slightly different benefits at different costs. So how do you choose?
- Which Medicare plan is best for me?
- Start by choosing a type of plan
- What is the best Medicare plan in 2020?
- Medicare Plan Finder tool
- Scour the internet
- Meet with a licensed agent
- When can you enroll in Medicare in 2020?
Which Medicare Plan is Best for me?
The best Medicare plan for 2020 is the one that fulfills your needs. To figure out which Medicare plan is best for you, ask yourself the following questions:
- What specific medical services do I need coverage for (ex: lab tests, blood work, surgery, chemotherapy, dental, etc.)
- How much room do I have in my budget? Am I able to pay a little more to have more benefits?
- Do I qualify for savings (apply for Medicaid, Medicare Savings Programs, and LIS)?
- Would I rather pay more on a monthly basis and pay very little when I visit the doctor, or is it better to pay a small amount every month but risk having higher copayments?
- Who are the doctors and other providers who I want to be covered in my plan?
- What prescriptions do I need coverage for?
Start by Choosing a Type of Plan
There are four main types of Medicare plans to consider when you begin your Medicare plan search. Start by comparing Original Medicare, Medicare Advantage, Prescription Drug Plans, and Medicare Supplements.
Keep in mind that you cannot have Medicare Advantage and a Prescription Drug Plan at the same time. You also cannot have Medicare Advantage and a Medicare Supplement plan at the same time.
Which plan or combination of plans works best for you?
- Original Medicare: The original Medicare program. Comprises of Part A (hospital coverage) and Part B (medical coverage).
- Medicare Advantage: A private plan that you can purchase once you have Original Medicare. Can add additional benefits such as hearing, vision, dental, fitness, etc. Can include a prescription benefit.
- Prescription Drug Plans: Another type of private plan that you can purchase once you have Original Medicare. Usually only includes a prescription benefit.
- Medicare Supplements (Medigap): Another type of private plan that you can have in addition to Original Medicare. Adds more financial coverage, like for copayments and deductibles.
You can choose from the following combinations:
- Original Medicare only
- Original Medicare and a Prescription Drug Plan
- Medicare Advantage
- Medicare Advantage with Prescription Drug Coverage
- Medicare Supplement
- Medicare Supplement AND standalone Prescription Drug Plan
Original Medicare Only
Having Original Medicare only means you’ve enrolled in the government program, Medicare Part A and Part B, but you have not enrolled in an additional (private) plan. Parts A and B can cover some of your hospital and medical costs, but they do not cover prescription drugs and other additional benefits such as dental and vision.
Original Medicare and a Prescription Drug Plan
If you don’t think you need any other medical benefits aside from what parts A and B cover, but you do need prescription drug coverage, you can enroll in a standalone prescription drug plan in addition to your Original Medicare.
With a Medicare Advantage (MA) plan, you’ll still have to pay your Part B premium, but you can get other benefits. MA plans can include additional health benefits such as fitness program memberships, dental care, vision, and more.
Choosing a Medicare Advantage Plan
So, did you decide to go with Medicare Advantage? Great! Now, there are a few types of Medicare Advantage plans that may be available for you. First, ask yourself whether or not you need a large network and whether the freedom to see any doctor is important to you. Then, read through these important differences:
- HMO Plans (Health Maintenance Organization) – You’ll select one primary physician. In some cases, you may only receive coverage for that one doctor (unless he or she refers you to a specialist). Requirements may vary based on your plan.
- HMO-POS Plans (Point-Of-Service) – You’ll select one primary physician, but you’ll have the freedom to visit any specialist in your network for your other needs. You will be charged a fee for visiting specialists.
- PPO Plans (Preferred Provider Organization) – You can see any doctor, but your costs will usually be lower if you choose one that is in your network.
- PFFS Plans (Private Fee-For-Service) – You will not need referrals or a primary physician, but you’ll have to pick a doctor that accepts your PFFS plan.
- SNP (Special Needs Plans) – Designed for those who are eligible for both Medicare and Medicaid, live in a nursing home, or have a chronic illness or disability.
- MSA (Medical Savings Account) – Works like a tax-free savings account for your medical bills. Medicare will deposit money into your HSA. You can use that account to pay for medical expenses.
Medicare Advantage with Prescription Drug Coverage
Some select Medicare Advantage plans come with a prescription drug benefit. This is important because you can’t have BOTH a Medicare Advantage plan and a standalone prescription drug plan. If you like the idea of Medicare Advantage but need prescription coverage, a “MAPD” or Medicare Advantage Prescription Drug Plan may be right for you.
Sometimes called “Medigap,” Medicare Supplement plans bridge the gap between your Part A and B costs and your out of pocket costs. For example, Medigap Plan A covers Part A* coinsurance and hospital costs, Part B coinsurance and copayments, up to three pints of blood, and hospice coinsurance and copayments. It does not offer additional health benefits, but it eliminates many of the costs that come with Part A and B.
The best Medicare Supplement plan is the one that fits your needs at the time. For example, you might not need skilled nursing care when you first sign up for Medicare, so Plan A might work best for you. Eventually, your health condition may require more inpatient services and skilled nursing services, so Plan D may be a better fit.
*Be careful not to confuse Part A with Plan A
Medicare Supplement AND a Prescription Drug Plan
Medicare supplements do not offer any prescription coverage, but you are able to enroll in both a Medicare Supplement plan and a standalone Prescription Drug Plan at the same time.