$0 a month sounds like an unbeatable deal, right? Think Again!
In 2020, 24 million Americans had a Medicare Advantage plan.
More than half of Medicare Advantage plans offer a zero-premium option.1
Great health coverage for $0 a month sounds like an unbeatable deal, right? It can be..but it also may end up being very expensive depending on your healthcare needs!
Zero-premium plans aren't free. In fact, they can wind up costing you more than $7,500 a year.2
These plans don't cover every expense you incur, and you could get hit with an unexpected bill you're expected to cover out of pocket. Plus, you still pay deductibles, co-payments, and Part B premiums on most zero-premium Advantage plans.
...not just jump on something that has a $0 in the name.
"Many Medicare-eligible people are looking for $0 premiums," said Rick Papay, Licensed Medicare Agent and Supervisor at MedicareMD. "But they need to consider the best plan for them personally, not just jump on something that has a $0 in the name."
Here's when a zero-premium plan might not work for you:
You want to stick with your provider instead of using one that it's the Medicare Advantage plan's network.
You'd rather pay more up front than get nickel and dimed out of thousands in co-pays and other fees.
You plan to move to another state soon. (These plans don't travel with you.)
What can go wrong if you don’t have the right coverage?
Ask Jane S. who lived with cancer. Jane's frequent doctor visits and trips for state-of-the-art treatments prolonged her health span by many years. But those visits also racked up co-payments, hospital stay bills, and ambulance charges. With out-of-pocket costs running as high as $7,550 per years, Jane paid out more than $20,000 over the three-years of her treatment.
$4,000 unexpected bill...
Or ask Loren H. who broke his hip. After a few days in a rehabilitation center, the administrator approached him to say that he'd need to start covering the cost of his stay himself. Loren's zero-premium plan had maxed out its contribution. Traditionally, Medicare didn't cover long-term care in a skilled facility. Some new Medicare Advantage plans do help meet those costs, however. Loren's didn't. He paid $190 per day out of pocket, meaning his three-week stay turned into a $4,000 unexpected bill.3
To be fair, zero-premium plans have saved countless people thousands of dollars. But don't pick a plan just because the price tag catches your eye. Talk to a Professional- Get a Free Medicare Plan Review. Let them know about your medical conditions and expected healthcare needs and review the options carefully- $0 MA plans, more expensive MA plans and even Medicare Supplement plans. The less healthcare you think you will need the more likely a $0 plan may be good for you. The more healthcare you think you will need the more you should consider all options.
No Medicare option is truly free. Remember that you're looking to maximize your benefits, not just control your costs.
What if you already bought a zero-premium plan?
Good news: You're not stuck.
If you signed up during the Annual Enrollment Period, you can switch your Medicare Advantage plan in January, February, or March.
Some people who fall under a certain income threshold or who receive Medicaid can change their plan in any quarter.
And if you have Original Medicare, you can add a supplement any time of year.
What's the best option for you? Talk to a professional to help you find out.
Find the best plan for you!