5 Steps to Comparing Medicare Advantage Plans in 2019

Are you looking to compare Medicare Advantage plans for 2019? Follow these five steps to find a Medicare plan that may fit your needs.

If you are looking to join a Medicare Advantage plan for the first time in 2019 – or if you are switching from your current plan to a new one – you may be interested in comparing the plans that are available near you so that you can pick a plan from the top of your list.

To help with your search, we’ve put together a five-step guide to comparing Medicare Advantage plans in 2019, including how to find top-rated Medicare Advantage plans in your area.

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1. Decide what Medicare Advantage benefits you want

The benefits offered by a Medicare Advantage plan can vary. Medicare Advantage plans must offer the same benefits covered by Medicare Part A (hospital insurance) and Part B (medical insurance).

Some Medicare Advantage plans may offer additional benefits such as:

Not all benefits are available with all plans, so it’s important to compare the plans that are available where you live and find out which plans provide the benefits that are top on your list.

2. Find out which plans are available in your area

You can only sign up for a Medicare Advantage plan that serves the area in which you live.

Some plans, such as Medicare HMO plans, have localized networks of participating providers while others, like Medicare PPO plans or Medicare Private-Fee-For-Service plans, may offer broader provider networks.

You may want to find out if your favorite doctor, pharmacy and your other top preferred health care providers are members of a plan’s network in 2019 before you decide to join that plan.

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3. Consult the Medicare Star Ratings to find top-rated plans

Each year, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) issues star ratings for all Medicare Advantage plans using a system of one to five stars.1 These plans are evaluated and rated each year, so plan Star Ratings can change each year.

Plans that earn 4 or more stars are considered top-rated Medicare Advantage plans.

Low-performing plans are flagged, and there’s even a Special Enrollment Period specific to signing up for five-star Medicare plans.

Medicare Advantage plans are rated on the following criteria:

  • Screenings, tests, vaccines and other preventive health efforts
  • Management of chronic conditions
  • Member experience with the plan
  • Member complaints and changes in the plan’s performance
  • Customer service

Medicare Advantage plans that include prescription drug coverage are also scored on the following:

  • Customer service
  • Member complaints and changes in plan performance
  • Member experience 
  • Drug safety and accuracy of drug pricing

The information used to rate plans comes from member surveys, Medicare’s regular monitoring activities and information that is submitted to Medicare by clinicians and the plans themselves. 

In 2019, some states such as Florida (207 plans), California (187) and Pennsylvania (105) had over 100 top-rated Medicare Advantage plans.2

Nationwide, approximately 59 percent of all Medicare Advantage beneficiaries were enrolled in a plan that was rated at least four stars in 2019.2  

The Star Ratings are released every fall just prior to the Annual Enrollment Period (AEP, also called the Fall Medicare Open Enrollment Period for Medicare Advantage plans).

A licensed insurance agent can help you review the Star Ratings for Medicare Advantage plans in your area. You may be able to find a top-rated Medicare Advantage plan that's available where you live. 

4. Consider pricing structure

Some Medicare Advantage plans may have a higher monthly premium but a lower deductible (or no deductible at all), while other plans may feature $0 premiums but a higher deductible. $0 premium plans may not be available in all locations.

There may also be out-of-pocket spending limits to consider, along with cost-sharing variables such as coinsurance and copayments.

These costs can vary from plan to plan, so you may want to compare all of these aspects of the 2019 plans you consider.

5. Review insurance company reputations and reviews

Medicare Advantage plans are sold by private insurance companies all over the U.S. As a consumer, you can do some research into a company’s history, reputation and ratings before committing to 2019 coverage.

The Better Business Bureau is a good place to start, along with rating organizations like J.D. Power, Moody’s and Standard & Poor’s.

You can compare plans from a number of Medicare Advantage plan providers, such as:

You can also read Medicare Advantage customer reviews to help guide your experience as you shop for Medicare Advantage plans. 

Getting help shopping for Medicare Advantage plans in 2019

You don’t have to embark on your search for Medicare Advantage plans alone. Contact a licensed insurance agent today.

A licensed agent can help you analyze your health care needs and budget to help you find a Medicare Advantage plan that may fit for your situation. 

An agent can also help you compare Medicare Advantage plans available in your area offered by some, including the insurance carriers, costs and coverage side-by-side. 

Lastly, a licensed agent can help you determine if you are eligible to enroll in a Medicare Advantage plan and guide you through the enrollment process if you are eligible. 

By using the steps above along with the help of a licensed insurance agent, you can find a Medicare Advantage plan that may fit your needs in 2019.


Find Medicare Advantage plans in your area

Compare plans now

Or call 1-800-557-6059 (TTY: 711) to speak with a licensed insurance agent. We accept calls 24/7!


About the author

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:

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