Original Medicare (Part A and Part B) is provided by the federal government, and many Medicare beneficiaries are automatically enrolled.
But if you want coverage for prescription drugs or things like routine dental and vision care (which Original Medicare doesn't cover), you may want to consider a Medicare Advantage (Part C) plan that offers these benefits.
Speak with a licensed insurance agent
Our Medicare plan finder tool is an easy way to get started finding Medicare Advantage plans and Medicare Part D prescription drug plans available in your area.
The Medicare.gov Plan Finder is a tool from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) that allows you to search for Medicare Advantage and Medicare Part D plans available where you live.
The CMS Medicare Plan Finder can be a helpful way of compiling some of your options into one place so that you can more easily narrow down your selection.
However, the plan finder tool on Medicare.gov requires you to go through many steps. You may find it easier to speak directly with a licensed insurance agent for help.
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Plus, a study published by the U.S. Government Accountability Office showed that three out of four Medicare beneficiaries struggle to use the CMS Medicare Plan Finder because it is “difficult to navigate, contains complex terms, and lacks information needed to compare coverage options.”1
The difficulty in using the site was such that Medicare.gov launched a revamped plan finder tool in recent years in an effort to make things easier for users.
There are two ways to utilize the Medicare Plan Finder:
There is also an option on the bottom of the page to compare Medigap policies in your area.
Once you begin a search, you will be asked whether you want to learn more about Medicare plan options or to skip ahead and view plans because you know what you want.
If you choose to learn more about your options, the Plan Finder tool will walk you through different Medicare coverage combinations and provide some basic information about each:
Once you review your options and understand the type of Medicare coverage combination you're interested in, you can click "Ready to Continue."
Now that you know what type of plan you want and you're ready to view plans, can select the coverage you want.
Once you select your coverage, you will be asked for the following information:
The Medicare plans that are available near you that fit your coverage needs will then be displayed.
You will be able to compare plans based on information such as their premiums, deductibles, benefits and Medicare Star Ratings.2
There are several different types of Medicare coverage options you may be able to consider.
Depending on where you live and the plans that are available near you, you may be able to select Medicare plans from a list of private companies, which may include:
Each year, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services rates all Medicare Advantage and Medicare Part D plans using a five-star scale.2
Plans with five stars are the highest rated plans.
Plans are rated on the following criteria:
The data used to score each plan comes from member surveys, information submitted to Medicare from clinicians and plans and Medicare’s regular monitoring activities.
When shopping for Medicare coverage, you may want to consider the following:
An agent can help guide you through these considerations so you can make an educated and informed decision about your care.
You can also read Medicare plan customer reviews to learn more about the Medicare plan shopping process.
Once you have found a Medicare plan that suits your needs, the next step is to enroll.
There are different times of the year in which you may enroll in Medicare or switch Medicare plans, and special circumstances may lead to one person having different enrollment periods than another person.
It helps to make sure that you are eligible for a Medicare plan prior to enrolling.
As helpful as the Medicare.gov Plan Finder is, it’s not the only way to search for and compare Medicare plans in your area.
One alternative is to speak with a licensed insurance agent. An agent can discuss your health care needs and compile a list of available Medicare plans in your area.
Most importantly, an agent can help answer questions you are sure to have about costs, coverage, terms and conditions of plans and help you better understand exactly what it is you are shopping for.
Speak with a licensed insurance agent
1 U.S. Government Accountability Office. MEDICARE PLAN FINDER:
Usability Problems and Incomplete Information Create Challenges for Beneficiaries Comparing Coverage Options. (July 30, 2019). Retrieved from www.gao.gov/products/GAO-19-627.
2 Every year, Medicare evaluates plans based on a 5-star rating system.
Christian Worstell is a licensed insurance agent and a Senior Staff Writer for MedicareAdvantage.com. He is passionate about helping people navigate the complexities of Medicare and understand their coverage options.
His work has been featured in outlets such as Vox, MSN, and The Washington Post, and he is a frequent contributor to health care and finance blogs.
Christian is a graduate of Shippensburg University with a bachelor’s degree in journalism. He currently lives in Raleigh, NC.
Where you've seen coverage of Christian's research and reports: