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How to Compare Medicare Advantage Plans

Are you ready to compare your Medicare Advantage plan options?

If so, there are a few things you should know before you get started.

This article will review how Medicare Advantage plans differ and explore a few simple ways to compare plans.

How Medicare Advantage plans differ

There are over 3,100 Medicare Advantage plans available nationwide in 2020.1

Depending on where you live, there may be $0 premium Medicare Advantage (Part C) plans available in your area.

In fact, 93 percent of Medicare beneficiaries have access to a Medicare Advantage Prescription Drug plan (MA-PD) with no monthly premium in 2020.1

Most Medicare Advantage plans include prescription drug coverage, and some plans may even cover things like routine dental, vision and hearing care.

So how do you find the right plan for your needs with all those options?

You can narrow down your options by comparing plan benefits, types, costs and star ratings.2

And if you don’t want to wait, you can compare your plan options online now.

Find $0 Medicare Advantage plans in your area

Compare Plans

Or call TTY Users: 711 24/7 to speak with a licensed insurance agent.

Compare Medicare Advantage plans side by side

Finding the right Medicare Advantage plan to fit your needs will depend on the types of health coverage you want, your budget and the availability of plans where you live.

The cost of Medicare insurance plans can be determined by a variety of factors:

  • Coverage
    All other things being equal, Part C plans that offer more benefits may have higher premiums than plans with fewer benefits.

    Common benefits offered by some Medicare Advantage plans include coverage for dental, vision, hearing, prescription drugs and fitness programs such as SilverSneakers.

  • Location
    Medicare Advantage plan quotes may differ according to location.

    For example, in 2018, the average Medicare Advantage plan premium in New York was $46.89 per month, while the average premium in Florida was just $3.34 per month.3

    Learn more about Medicare Advantage in your state.

  • Medicare Advantage plan carrier
    Medicare Advantage plans are all sold by private insurance companies.

    These companies may set their own premiums, deductibles and other costs, all of which may affect the plan quotes available to you.

  • Medicare Advantage plan types
    There are several types of Medicare Advantage plans.

    The most common plan types are Health Maintenance Organization plans (HMO), Preferred Provider Organization plans (PPO), Private Fee-for-Service plans (PFFS) and Special Needs Plans (SNP).

    Each plan type has different network rules which may impact which medical providers you can use, how you receive your medical care and how much it will cost.

What type of Medicare Advantage plans can I sign up for?

As mentioned above, there are several different types of Medicare Advantage plans you may be able to consider.

The plan options available to you may vary and may include more or less than the plans listed below.

Medicare Advantage HMO plans

A Medicare Advantage health maintenance organization (HMO) plan is a type of health plan that typically utilizes a local network of doctors, health care providers and hospitals.

With an HMO plan, you are typically limited to a local network of providers for care that will be covered by your plan. You are also usually required to choose a primary care physician (PCP) from your local plan network.

Your plan may require you to get a referral from your PCP before visiting a specialist for additional care.

Be sure to check with your plan carrier to find out more about the rules and network restrictions of your plan.

Medicare Advantage PPO plans

A Medicare Advantage preferred provider organization (PPO) plan is a type of health plan that may offer you the ability to receive approved health care outside of your plan network.

Your plan costs will typically be lower, however, if you see providers within your PPO plan network.

A PPO plan may require you to choose a primary care physician, but it is not typically a requirement. PPO plans typically don’t require you to get a referral in order to see a specialist.

Medicare Advantage PFFS plans

A Medicare Advantage private fee-for-service (PFFS) plan is a type of health insurance plan that allows you to visit any Medicare-approved doctor or facility that accepts your plan’s payment terms and conditions.

Some PFFS plans may include a provider network. If your PFFS plan includes a network, you may pay higher costs when you seek care from an out-of-network providers.

With most PFFS plans, you don’t have to get a referral to see a specialist.

Medicare Advantage SNP

A Medicare Advantage Special Needs Plan (SNP) is a type of specialized Medicare Advantage plan that is designed to provide customized services and coverage to people with specific health conditions or financial needs.

All Medicare Advantage SNPs include prescription drug coverage.

There are three main types of Medicare Advantage Special Needs Plans:

  • Dual Eligible SNP (D-SNP)
    A D-SNP is designed to serve beneficiaries who have both Medicare and Medicaid.

  • Institutional SNP (I-SNP)
    An I-SNP is designed to serve beneficiaries who live in an institution such as a nursing home, or beneficiaries who require in-home nursing care.

  • Chronic Condition SNP (C-SNP)
    A C-SNP is designed to serve people who are diagnosed with a specific chronic disease or condition. Some plans might include access to providers who specialize in treating a certain condition.

    A C-SNP would also include a clinical case management program that would be set up to specifically help support the beneficiary based on their condition.

    The plan’s drug formulary would also typically be designed to cover drugs commonly used to treat the specific condition.

    Some of the severe or disabling chronic conditions that may qualify someone for a C-SNP include:
    • Chronic dependence to alcohol or other chronic substance abuse
    • An autoimmune disorder
    • Cancer (excluding pre-cancer conditions)
    • A cardiovascular disorder
    • Chronic heart failure
    • Dementia
    • Diabetes mellitus
    • End-Stage Renal Disease (ESRD) that requires dialysis
    • End-stage liver disease
    • Severe hematologic disorders
    • HIV/AIDS
    • Chronic lung disorders
    • Chronic and disabling mental health conditions
    • Neurologic disorders
    • Stroke

The table below illustrates some of the key differences between each type of Medicare Advantage plan.

How to Compare Types of Medicare Advantage Plans
Key feature HMO PPO PFFS SNP
Utilizes a network of health care providers Yes Yes No Yes
Utilizes a primary care physician (PCP) Yes No No Yes
Offers non-emergency coverage outside of the plan's network Yes Yes, but may cost more Yes No
Requires a referral to see a specialist Typically yes No No Yes
May include drug coverage Yes Yes Yes Yes, all SNPs include drug coverage

How much do Medicare Advantage plans cost?

Medicare Advantage plans have several different costs you should consider including premiums, deductibles, copayments and coinsurance.

Your costs will vary depending on which plan you choose and which medical services you receive.

Keep in mind that you may have $0 premium plan options available in your area. If you enroll in one of these plans, you still have to pay your Medicare Part B premium.

How do I find top-rated Medicare Advantage plans?

Each fall, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services releases a star ratings report for all Medicare Advantage and Medicare Part D prescription drug plans.

These Medicare Star Ratings can change each year.2

Each plan is rated from one to five stars on a variety of criteria, with one star being “poor” and five stars being “excellent”. Plans that are rated with 4 stars or higher are considered "top-rated" Medicare Advantage plans.

Medicare releases its star ratings report each fall, typically just prior to the Annual Enrollment Period (AEP, also called the Annual Election Period).

Medicare AEP lasts from October 15 to December 7 every year.

Where can I find Medicare Advantage company reviews?

You may also do some research on the carriers who provide Medicare Advantage plans in your area.

Agencies like A.M. Best, Moody’s and Standard & Poor’s can provide valuable insight about the financial well-being of an insurance company.

And sites like Consumer Reports and the Better Business Bureau can shed some light on overall consumer satisfaction.

You can also browse customer reviews and testimonials online.

How to find and compare plans

Comparing plans online with or or over the phone with a licensed insurance agent can help you find an affordable plan quickly.

You can compare plans right now by entering your ZIP code on this page or by calling us directly at TTY Users: 711. Our agents are available 7 days a week, 24 hours a day.

Compare plans online with

One way to compare plans online is using the “Medicare Plan Finder” tool. is the official U.S. Government site for the Medicare program.

The site offers two search options: a general search and a personalized search.

If you use the general search, you can find Medicare plans in your area, but the cost estimates may not be as accurate as the personalized search.

In order to view your plans on the general search, you will need to answer some questions such as your ZIP code, how you get your Medicare coverage and if you get help paying your Medicare prescription drug costs.

If you use the personalized search, you will be able to view Medicare plans in your area with more accurate cost estimates than the general search.

In order to view your plans on the personalized search, you will need to answer specific Medicare questions such as your Medicare number, Part A effective date, date of birth and other questions.

Both search options show several types of Medicare plans in your area with detailed plan information such as estimated annual costs, premiums, Star Ratings and plan benefits.

Compare plans online with

If you want to compare plans online and have one-on-one support from a licensed insurance agent, then you can use offers an online plan comparison tool where you can review Medicare Advantage plans side by side.

You will be able to view plan details, benefits, costs, Star Ratings and other information.

If a plan fits your needs, you can start the application process right away by calling a licensed insurance agent at TTY Users: 711 or by entering your information online and having a licensed insurance agent call you directly.

Even if you aren’t ready to apply, our USA-based, licensed insurance agents are available to answer your questions and discuss your plan options.

Reviewing plans online with gives you the freedom to compare several plan options at your own pace and speak with a licensed insurance agent when you have questions.

Find Medicare Advantage plans in your area

Compare Plans

Or call TTY Users: 711 to speak with a licensed insurance agent. We accept calls 24/7!

Compare plans over the phone

If you’re looking for the most efficient way to compare plans, then you should consider comparing plans over the phone.

When you compare plans with a licensed insurance agent directly over the phone, you will have access to all the plan information mentioned above such as plan details, benefits, costs and other information.

What makes comparing plans over the phone different is that if you have any questions during the plan comparison process, such as how a certain benefit may help you or how much the plan’s deductible is, a licensed insurance agent can answer your questions right away.

All of our licensed insurance agents are based in the USA and can help you understand your plan options. Our help is provided at no cost to you. This means you are under no obligation to purchase a policy from us.

But, if you do find a plan that works for your coverage needs, you can start your enrollment process in just a few minutes.

Get started immediately by calling TTY Users: 711.

How many 2020 Medicare Advantage plans cover prescription drugs?

90 percent of 2020 Medicare Advantage plans cover prescription drugs.1

You can speak to a licensed insurance agent to find out if there are any MAPD plans available where you live.

If there are, an agent can also help you find out if your Medicare Advantage plan covers your prescription drugs.

When can I enroll in a Medicare Advantage plan?

If you are about to become eligible for Medicare or have recently become eligible, you may be able to enroll in a Medicare Advantage plan during your Medicare Initial Enrollment Period (IEP).

A licensed insurance agent can help you explore your enrollment options, such as when is the right time for you to enroll in a Medicare Advantage plan.

Find Medicare Advantage plans in your area

Compare Plans

Or call TTY Users: 711 24/7 to speak with a licensed insurance agent.