By Kate Ashford
Medicare Advantage plan ratings are higher
Medicare Advantage is a bundled alternative to Original Medicare that includes all the coverages of Medicare Part A, Part B and usually Part D. Medicare Advantage plans, also called Medicare Part C, often include additional benefits, such as some cost help with dental, vision and hearing care, fitness memberships, over-the-counter allowances and meal delivery.
Each year, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services assigns every Medicare Advantage plan a star rating, ranking each plan from best (5 stars) to worst (1 star). These ratings are based on plans’ quality of care and measurements of customer satisfaction, and those ratings can change each year.
In 2022, the average star rating for Medicare Advantage Prescription Drug plans is 4.37, compared to 4.06 in 2021. In fact, 68% of Medicare Advantage plans that include prescription drug coverage have received an overall rating of 4 stars or higher for 2022, compared to 49% in 2021, according to the CMS.
Medicare Advantage premiums are lower
The average premium in 2022 for Medicare Advantage plans will be $19 per month, versus $21.22 in 2021. (Note: Medicare Advantage members are still responsible for the Medicare Part B monthly premium, which is $170.10 in 2022.)
More people are projected to enroll in Medicare Advantage in 2022 as well: The CMS estimates 29.5 million people will sign up, compared to 26.9 million in 2021.
There are 3,834 Medicare Advantage plans available in 2022, up 8% from 2021. Of the 2022 plans, 59% are health maintenance organization, or HMO, plans, and 37% are preferred provider organization, or PPO, plans.
Making plan changes
Changes you make during Medicare open enrollment will take effect on Jan. 1. During this open enrollment period from Oct. 15 to Dec. 7, you can switch from Original Medicare to Medicare Advantage, or vice versa, or switch from one Medicare Advantage plan to another one.
If you discover that you’ve erred in your plan choice after the enrollment period ends, there’s a Medicare Advantage open enrollment period from Jan. 1 to March 31. During this time, you can do the following:
Switch Medicare Advantage plans.
Return to an Original Medicare plan, with the option to join a Part D prescription drug plan.
During Medicare Advantage open enrollment, you can’t switch to a Medicare Advantage plan if you’re enrolled in Original Medicare. Additionally, if you return to Original Medicare, you might not be able to buy a Medigap policy. Your coverage will begin on the first day of the month after you request a plan change.
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Kate Ashford writes for NerdWallet. Email: email@example.com. Twitter: @kateashford.