5 Extra Perks Covered by Many 2020 Medicare Advantage Plans

A senior Asian couple uses a laptop computer at home
Photo by Monkey Business Images / Shutterstock.com

For seniors considering switching to a Medicare Advantage plan during the current Medicare open enrollment period — which runs through Dec. 7 — choosing a plan might be tougher than ever.

The number of Medicare Advantage plans for 2020 is greater than ever, according to a recent analysis by the nonprofit Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF). Nationwide, there are 3,148 Medicare Advantage plans for 2020 — a 15% increase from just one plan year prior.

That doesn’t mean seniors will have that many Medicare Advantage plans to choose from, though. These alternatives to the traditional Medicare program are offered by private insurers that contract with the federal government’s Medicare program, so plan availability can vary widely from county to county.

On average, seniors will have 28 Medicare Advantage plans to choose from for 2020, according to the KFF analysis. That is up from 24 plans for 2019 and the highest average number of available plans since 2010.

Besides the plan availability in their area, another factor that will help seniors narrow down their Medicare Advantage options is the presence of any “extras” that come with a plan.

Medicare Advantage plans must provide all the same benefits as Original Medicare, which is the other of two main types of Medicare. But Medicare Advantage plans can offer additional benefits that aren’t covered by Original Medicare — and many do.

For example, the following five “extra” benefits are offered by a majority of 2020 Medicare Advantage plans, according to the KFF analysis:

  • Fitness benefit: Provided by 93% of Medicare Advantage plans for 2020
  • Prescription drug coverage: 90%
  • Dental benefit: 88%
  • Eye exams and glasses: 87%
  • Hearing aids: 83%

Extras covered by only a minority of 2020 Medicare Advantage plans include:

  • Meal benefit (such as a cooking class, nutrition education or meal delivery): 46%
  • Transportation: 33%
  • Bathroom safety devices: 6%
  • In-home support: 4%
  • Telemonitoring: 4%
  • Support for caregivers of Medicare enrollees: 2%

What’s the difference between Original Medicare and Medicare Advantage?

Original Medicare and Medicare Advantage are the two main types of Medicare.

Original Medicare is the traditional Medicare program offered directly by the federal government. Medicare Advantage plans are an alternative to the traditional program offered by private insurance companies.

Choosing between these two options is perhaps the biggest decision Medicare recipients face. They must make it when they first enroll in Medicare, and they have an opportunity to switch from one type of Medicare to the other during open enrollment periods.

Original Medicare is currently the more popular of the two main options. Last year, about 36% of all Medicare enrollees chose a Medicare Advantage plan, according to the latest annual report from the Medicare boards of trustees.

Medicare Advantage plans are growing in popularity, though. By 2029, an estimated 47% of Medicare enrollees will have one of these plans.

Be cautious when switching from Original Medicare to Medicare Advantage

While Medicare Advantage plans are often considered a more affordable or at least a more inclusive alternative to Original Medicare, deciding whether to switch from Original Medicare to Medicare Advantage should not be done lightly.

Medicare Advantage is not for everyone, and switching to it can carry risk.

For example, one downside to Medicare Advantage plans is that they may limit you to a certain network of doctors. So, you might not be able to continue seeing the same doctor and still have the visits covered if you switch from Original Medicare to Medicare Advantage.

Medicare Advantage plans also require prior authorization more often than Original Medicare does, according to a 2018 analysis by the Kaiser Family Foundation. As we explain in “8 Services Medicare Advantage Won’t Cover Without Preapproval“:

“Prior authorization requires enrollees to get approval from the plan before accessing a particular health care service. If the plan does not approve the service beforehand, the plan might not pay for the service — leaving the patient on the hook for the cost.”

Switching to Medicare Advantage is also risky for seniors with Original Medicare and a supplemental Medicare policy, also known as a Medigap policy. If such seniors later decide to switch back to Original Medicare, they won’t necessarily be able to get the same Medigap policy back — or get a new Medigap policy at all. We explain this further in “4 Dangers for First-Time Medicare Enrollees.”

How to find cheaper car insurance in minutes

Getting a better deal on car insurance doesn't have to be hard. You can have The Zebra, an insurance comparison site compare quotes in just a few minutes and find you the best rates. Consumers save an average of $368 per year, according to the site, so if you're ready to secure your new rate, get started now.

Read Next
3 Ways a Health Savings Account Can Improve Your Finances
3 Ways a Health Savings Account Can Improve Your Finances

Open an HSA in minutes to help you save on taxes, cover medical expenses and grow your retirement nest egg.

21 Purchases You Should Never Skimp On
21 Purchases You Should Never Skimp On

With some items, it makes sense to pay a little more rather than hopping on the lowest price.

12 Tech Gadgets That Make Daily Life Easier
12 Tech Gadgets That Make Daily Life Easier

These products on Amazon will ease worries and simplify your routine.

8 Things I Always Buy at Target
8 Things I Always Buy at Target

I grew up shopping at the original Target store and am a lifelong fan. Here are my favorite purchases.

What Is Umbrella Insurance, and Do I Need It?
What Is Umbrella Insurance, and Do I Need It?

Umbrella insurance picks up where car and homeowners insurance leaves off. Do you need it? Here’s how to know.

View this page without ads

Help us produce more money-saving articles and videos by subscribing to a membership.

Get Started

Most Popular
This Gas Station Scam Is Victimizing More Drivers
This Gas Station Scam Is Victimizing More Drivers

For the second straight year, a growing number of Americans believe they’ve fallen prey to this scam.

7 Ways to Boost Your Credit Score Fast
7 Ways to Boost Your Credit Score Fast

Your financial security might soon depend upon the strength of your credit score.

This Is the Most Popular Age for Claiming Social Security
This Is the Most Popular Age for Claiming Social Security

Both men and women are most likely to start receiving Social Security benefits at this age.

Could You Give Up These 7 Expenses to Save Thousands of Dollars a Year?
Could You Give Up These 7 Expenses to Save Thousands of Dollars a Year?

You could save more than $30,000 by setting aside these costly expenses for just one year.

6 Things You Should Never Buy at Trader Joe’s
6 Things You Should Never Buy at Trader Joe’s

We love Trader Joe’s for plenty of reasons. But think twice about this handful of products.

7 Unusual Ways to Declutter Your Home
7 Unusual Ways to Declutter Your Home

Tired of possessions weighing you down? Here are seven ways to declutter painlessly and effectively.

Don’t Toss These 7 Household Items — Sell Them
Don’t Toss These 7 Household Items — Sell Them

Here’s how to earn cash as you give new life to these unwanted items.

6 Legal Documents Retirees Need — but Don’t Have
6 Legal Documents Retirees Need — but Don’t Have

Few retirees have these documents that are crucial to their golden years — especially during a pandemic.

19 High-Paying Jobs You Can Get With a 2-Year Degree
19 High-Paying Jobs You Can Get With a 2-Year Degree

These jobs pay more than the typical job in the U.S. — and no bachelor’s degree is required.

Eat This Food If You Want to Avoid Alzheimer’s Disease
Eat This Food If You Want to Avoid Alzheimer’s Disease

One type of food associated with the Mediterranean diet offers especially large benefits.

11 Expenses That Quietly Drain Your Wallet
11 Expenses That Quietly Drain Your Wallet

It’s scandalously easy to overspend in these areas of your life.

21 Things You Should Always Buy at a Dollar Store
21 Things You Should Always Buy at a Dollar Store

Dollar stores have great bargains on both everyday and occasional purchases.

9 Dumb Ways You Are Ruining Your Home Value
9 Dumb Ways You Are Ruining Your Home Value

Homeowners, beware these mistakes that can drive away potential buyers.

18 Amazon Purchases That We Are Loving Right Now
18 Amazon Purchases That We Are Loving Right Now

These practical products make everyday life a little easier.

The 15 Worst States for Retirees in 2020
The 15 Worst States for Retirees in 2020

Based on dozens of metrics tied to affordability, quality of life and health care, these are not ideal places to spend retirement.

3 Ways to Get Microsoft Office for Free
3 Ways to Get Microsoft Office for Free

With a little ingenuity, you can cut Office costs to zero.

7 Tips for Building an Emergency Stockpile
7 Tips for Building an Emergency Stockpile

A pandemic or natural disaster could leave you reliant on your existing food supply. Is your pantry prepared?

15 Outrageously Overpriced Products — and How to Save on Them
15 Outrageously Overpriced Products — and How to Save on Them

Retailers mark up products by hundreds of times their cost — but you don’t have to pay the premium.

Why Half of Retirees Now Owe Taxes on Social Security
Why Half of Retirees Now Owe Taxes on Social Security

Growing numbers of seniors are paying taxes on their Social Security benefits, but you might be able to avoid this fate.

View More Articles

View this page without ads

Help us produce more money-saving articles and videos by subscribing to a membership.

Get Started

Add a Comment

Our Policy: We welcome relevant and respectful comments in order to foster healthy and informative discussions. All other comments may be removed. Comments with links are automatically held for moderation.