Medicare Advantage in California

Looking for California Medicare Advantage Plans? Enter your ZIP below to compare affordable or $0 premium plans in your area.

California state

Information about Medicare Advantage Plans in California

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41 percent of Medicare beneficiaries in California were enrolled in a Medicare Advantage (Medicare Part C) plan in 2019.1

There are 220 different California Medicare Advantage plans in 2019.1 Plan selection can vary by location, however.

Call to speak with a licensed insurance agent who can help you compare the benefits and costs of Medicare Advantage plans that are available where you live in California.

You can also explore more information about other types of Medicare plans that may be available where you live:

Average costs of Medicare Advantage in California

The average California Medicare Advantage plan premium in 2019 was $35 per month.

This weighted average is affected by the 95 California Medicare Advantage plans that feature $0 monthly premiums in 2019.

  • Average monthly premium cost in 2019 (weighted): $35
  • Average in-network out-of-pocket spending limit: $4,650
  • Average deductible in 2019 (weighted): $36.431

The premiums and other costs for Medicare Advantage plans may vary from one location to another.

You can view the 2019 average California Medicare Advantage plan monthly premiums listed by county below in this guide.

A licensed insurance agent can help you compare Medicare Advantage plan costs in your area.

Compare California Medicare Advantage plan costs

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

CA Medicare Eligibility & Enrollment

You may not sign up for a Medicare Advantage plan in California without first enrolling in Medicare Part A and Part B, otherwise known as Original Medicare.

In order to enroll in Original Medicare at age 65, you must be a U.S. citizen or permanent legal resident of at least five continuous years. You must also meet the following requirements: 

  • You or your spouse have worked long enough to be eligible for Social Security or Railroad Retirement benefits.

  • You or your spouse are government employees or retirees who have not paid into Social Security but have paid Medicare payroll taxes.

You may be eligible to sign up for Medicare before age 65 if:

  • You have been receiving Social Security disability benefits or certain Railroad Retirement Board disability benefits for at least 24 months.

  • You have ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or Lou Gehrig's disease).

  • You have End-Stage Renal Disease (ESRD), and you or your spouse have paid Social Security taxes for a certain length of time.

If you have ESRD, you may not qualify for most Medicare Advantage plans. You may be able to enroll in a California Medicare Special Needs Plan (SNP) that is designed to help meet your specific health care needs.

How to sign up for a Medicare Advantage Plan in California

There are a number of times that you may be able to enroll in a California Medicare Part C plan. The first is during your Medicare Initial Enrollment Period (IEP).

Medicare Initial Enrollment Period graphic

Your Medicare IEP begins three months before you turn 65 years old, includes the month of your birthday and then continues for another three months after your birthday.

Some other enrollment periods during which you may be able to sign up for Medicare Advantage include:

Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period graphic

Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period: January 1 – March 31

If you already have a Medicare Advantage plan, you may be able to switch Medicare Advantage plans or drop your Medicare Advantage plan and return to Original Medicare from Jan. 1 to March 31 each year.

You can also join a Medicare standalone prescription drug plan (Medicare Part D) during this period if you disenroll from Medicare Advantage and return to Original Medicare.

Medicare AEP graphic

Medicare Annual Enrollment Period (AEP): October 15 – December 7

During Medicare AEP, you may enroll in a Medicare Advantage plan or switch from one Medicare Advantage plan to another.

AEP (also called the Annual Election Period) lasts from Oct. 15 to Dec. 7 each year. During AEP, you may also be able to drop your existing Medicare Advantage plan and return to Original Medicare.

During AEP, you may also join, switch or drop a Medicare Part D plan. 

Medicare Special Enrollment Periods (SEP)

You may potentially be granted a Medicare Special Enrollment Period (SEP) at any time during the year, depending on your individual circumstances.

A licensed insurance agent can help you find out if you qualify for a Medicare Special Enrollment Period.

Find a California Medicare Advantage plan

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

Top-rated Medicare Advantage Plans in California 2019

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) issues star ratings every year for all Medicare Advantage plans, using a system of one to five stars.2

In order for a Medicare Advantage plan to be considered a top-rated plan, it must have four or more stars out of five stars.

There are 187 top-rated 2019 Medicare Advantage plans in California that are rated four stars or higher. This is a high percentage of 2019 MA plans available in California, at 85 percent.

Medicare Star Ratings
Star Ratings

★★★★★

Excellent

★★★★

Above Average

★★★

Average

★★

Below Average

Poor

Medicare Advantage plan Star Ratings are based on information from Medicare's monitoring activities and from member surveys, and they rate plans based on the following five categories:

  • Preventive care and health maintenance (screenings, tests, vaccines, etc.)
  • Management of chronic conditions
  • Member experiences and ratings of the plan
  • Member complaints, problems receiving services and member retention
  • Customer service

List of Medicare Advantage Plans Available in California in 2019

To view a list of plans offered in your area within California, use our plan comparison tool.

Find a California Medicare Advantage plan

Compare Plans

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

Private insurance companies offer Medicare Advantage plans in CA

Several insurance companies may offer Medicare Advantage plans in your area of California, though the selection of plans can vary. Depending on where you live, there may only be one insurance company that offers MA plans (if there are plans available in your county).

Private insurance companies offer Medicare Advantage plans that may be unique to the plan area they serve.

Call to speak with a licensed insurance agent who can help you compare Medicare Advantage plans that are sold by insurance companies in your area.

When you’re shopping for Medicare Advantage plans in California, you can compare plans from several different carriers. You can also use some of the following information to help you choose:

  • Medicare Star Ratings can give you an idea of a plan’s overall quality.

  • Agencies like A.M. Best, Moody’s and Standard & Poor’s can provide information about an insurance company’s credit rating and financial standing.

  • You can read through Medicare Advantage plan reviews and testimonials from customers.

California Medicare Advantage plans by county

The chart below provides some more information about 2019 California Medicare Advantage plans by county.1

  • Los Angeles County was home to the highest number of $0 premium plans (19 plans) in California in 2019.

  • There were 20 top-rated MA plans (rated 4 stars or higher) in San Diego County in 2019.
2019 CA Medicare Advantage by County
County Total of County MA Enrollees Average Monthly Premium Number of Plans Available Number of $0 Premium Plans Available % Enrolled in a $0 Premium Plan
Alameda 105717 $94 8 0 0%
Amador 2384 $62 0 0 0%
Contra Costa 95232 $94 4 0 0%
El Dorado 15283 $61 1 0 0%
Fresno 47287 $35 13 5 36%
Imperial 5748 $8 0 0 78%
Kern 46184 $10 10 7 66%
Kings 3493 $41 1 1 34%
Los Angeles 750227 $5 31 19 84%
Madera 8568 $54 1 1 5%
Marin 23654 $104 1 0 0%
Mariposa 320 $48 0 0 0%
Mendocino 1707 $58 0 0 0%
Merced 4262 $58 0 0 0%
Monterey 5392 $138 3 0 0%
Napa 11263 $94 1 0 0%
Nevada 4506 $95 2 0 0%
Orange 258735 $2 17 9 94%
Placer 41043 $61 1 0 0%
Riverside 217321 $2 23 18 91%
Sacramento 129088 $54 8 1 12%
San Benito 957 $14 2 1 71%
San Bernardino 178848 $2 8 5 91%
San Diego 256436 $8 22 13 81%
San Francisco 60338 $68 9 2 19%
San Joaquin 45440 $35 8 2 30%
San Luis Obispo 10072 $19 1 0 59%
San Mateo 56982 $100 5 0 2%
Santa Barbara 12352 $64 3 1 12%
Santa Clara 118129 $69 14 3 17%
Santa Cruz 5494 $83 2 0 0%
Solano 34778 $101 2 0 0%
Sonoma 49135 $58 1 0 0%
Stanislaus 40922 $41 8 1 35%
Sutter 545 $66 0 0 0%
Tulare 12259 $44 0 0 21%
Ventura 52144 $7 6 3 77%
Yolo 13626 $52 3 2 22%
Yuba 955 $60 0 0 0%

CA Medicare Advantage enrollees by plan type

The chart below illustrates the percentage of 2019 California Medicare Advantage enrollees that are enrolled in each primary type of Medicare Advantage plan.1

Plan type Percentage of California enrollees (2019)
HMO 99.99%
Local PPO <1%

The major types of Medicare Advantage plans include:

  • HMO
    Health Maintenance Organization (HMO) usually requires patients to use health care providers and pharmacies that are part of the plan’s network (except in the case of emergencies) while also typically requiring a referral from a primary care doctor in order to see a specialist.

  • PPO
    Medicare Advantage beneficiaries in a Preferred Provider Organization (PPO) are able to see providers outside of their plan’s network, often at a higher cost.

    Beneficiaries in this type of plan typically pay less out of pocket if they choose to receive medical services from providers within their plan’s network.

    PPO plans typically do not require patients to acquire a referral before visiting with a specialist.

  • SNP
    A Special Needs Plan (SNP) is a type of Medicare Advantage plan limited to people with certain chronic conditions and other specific characteristics.

Not all of these types of plans may be available in your area. A licensed insurance agent can help you compare the types of 2019 California Medicare Advantage plans that are available where you live.

Local health insurance resources in California

  • California’s Health Insurance Counseling and Advocacy Program (HICAP) provides free education, counseling and outreach for the state’s Medicare beneficiaries.

    You may contact California’s HICAP at 800-434-0222 with any questions about Medicare benefits, prescription drug coverage, Medicare Advantage plans, Medicare Supplement Insurance, long-term care insurance and more.

  • You can also explore more information about the insurance industry in California by visiting the state’s Department of Insurance website.

  • California Prescription Drug Assistance Programs
    The state of California has a number of programs designed to help with the cost of prescription drugs. There are programs for both Medicare beneficiaries and non-Medicare beneficiaries alike that can cover the cost of premiums and cost-sharing or even lower the cost of the drugs themselves.

Copyright © 2019 TZ Insurance Solutions LLC. All rights reserved.

1 MedicareAdvantage.com's internal analysis of CMS Medicare Advantage landscape source files, accessed May 2019. Data retrieved from www.cms.gov/Medicare/Prescription-Drug-Coverage/PrescriptionDrugCovGenIn.

Includes 2019 approved contracts/plans. PACE, Special Needs Plans, Part B Only Plans, and Employer sponsored plans (800 series) are excluded. Plans under sanction are not shown.

2 Every year, Medicare evaluates plans based on a 5-star rating system.

MedicareAdvantage.com is a website owned and operated by TZ Insurance Solutions LLC. TZ Insurance Solutions LLC is a licensed and certified representative of A Medicare Advantage [HMO, PPO and PFFS] organization and a stand-alone prescription drug plan with a Medicare contract. Enrollment in any plan depends on contract renewal.

TZ Insurance Solutions LLC and the licensed sales agents that may call you are not connected with or endorsed by the U.S. Government or the federal Medicare program. This website does not contain a complete listing of plans available in your service area. For a complete listing please contact 1-800-MEDICARE (TTY users should call (877) 486-2048), 24 hours a day / 7 days a week or consult www.medicare.gov.

This information is not a complete description of benefits. Contact the plan for more information. Limitations, copayments, and restrictions may apply. Benefits, premiums, and/or copayments/coinsurance may change on January 1 of each year.

Medicare has neither reviewed nor endorsed this information.

Last Updated: 6/27/2019