Compare 2021 Medicare Plans Using the Plan Finder

In this article...
  • Medicare.gov, the official government website for Medicare, features a plan finder tool that allows you to find and compare Medicare Advantage, Medicare Part D and Medigap plans. Learn how to use the plan finder tool and how you can get started finding a Medicare plan.

There are more than 3,500 Medicare Advantage (Medicare Part C) plans in America in 2021, and the average beneficiary will have their choice of up to 33 different plans. There are also numerous Medicare Part D and Medicare Supplement Insurance plans in your area that you may be able to consider.

You can compare Medicare Advantage plans and Part D prescription drug plans online for free, and you can also call to speak with a licensed insurance agent for assistance as you gather quotes from multiple insurance companies.

Getting Started With Medicare.gov/Find-a-Plan

With so much selection comes tough decisions, and Medicare.gov – the official government website for Medicare – also has a tool that helps current and upcoming beneficiaries find and compare Medicare Advantage, Medicare Part D and Medicare Supplement Insurance (Medigap) plans to assist in the search for the best coverage. 

To get started with the Medicare plan finder tool, visit www.medicare.gov/plan-compare. If you have a Medicare.gov account you may log in. Otherwise, click “Continue without logging in” to enter the plan finder. 

You’ll then be asked what kind of Medicare coverage you are looking for, your zip code and whether or not you receive assistance from various programs.

You’ll then be asked if you wish to see drug costs as part of your comparison for any drugs you currently take. If you are taking any medications and are comparing Medicare plans with drug coverage, you may enter the name of the drugs where prompted. 

Once the results of your search are displayed, you may use the filter at the top to select the type of plan, such as health maintenance organization (HMO) plans or preferred provider organization (PPO) plans. 

How to Use the CMS Plan Finder

The results of your plan search will display some information that can be instrumental in your decision. 

  • Monthly premium
    This is the amount of money you will pay each month to belong to the plan. Keep in mind that you must maintain both Medicare Part A and Part B enrollment in order to belong to a Medicare Advantage or Medigap plan, and you must continue to pay those premiums in addition to your plan premium.

    Some Medicare Advantage plans, called Medicare give back plans, actually pay you back part or all of your monthly Part B premium. Some other Medicare Advantage plans may charge a $0 monthly premium. Medicare Supplement plans, however, typically always come with a monthly premium.

    To apply for a Medicare Part D plan, you must at least be enrolled in Medicare Part A. Most people don’t pay a monthly premium for Part A.

  • Deductible
    This is the amount of money you must pay out of pocket for covered care every year before the plan’s coverage kicks in. Many Medicare Advantage plans feature a separate deductible for drug costs and medical costs.

    Most Medicare Supplement plans don’t feature a deductible. Only high-deductible Plan F and high-deductible Plan G feature deductibles, and each of these plan options typically feature lower monthly premiums than other Medigap plans. You’ll still be required to meet your Medicare Part B deductible if you have a Medigap plan other than Plan C or Plan F, which are both unavailable to new Medicare beneficiaries who first became eligible for Medicare after January 1, 2020.

    Some Medicare Part D prescription drug plans feature $0 deductibles. With this type of plan, your Part D coverage starts immediately.

  • Copayment or coinsurance
    This is the amount you must pay out of pocket for your share of the medical bill after meeting your deductible. Copayments are generally presented in flat fees, while coinsurance is typically expressed as a percentage.

  • Out-of-pocket limit
    This is the maximum amount of money you must pay out of pocket for covered care over the course of the year before the plan then pays 100% of the cost of covered care for the remainder of the year.  

To the right side of the Medicare plan finder tool, you can see some of the benefits of each plan, with the option to see additional benefits. You may also click “Plan details” to see costs and coverage for specific services. 

Using Medicare Star Ratings to Compare Plan Quality

One important aspect of Medicare plans to consider is the plan’s Medicare Star Rating. Every year, Medicare evaluates plans based on a 5-star rating system. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) uses the five-star scale to measure the quality of Medicare Advantage and Medicare Part D plans, with a Five Star Medicare plan being the highest rated.

Medicare plans are rated according to the following criteria:

  • Screening tests and vaccines
  • Management of chronic conditions
  • Member experience with the plan
  • Member complaints and changes in plan performance
  • Customer service
  • Drug safety and accuracy of drug pricing 

Comparing Medicare Star Ratings for several plans can give you a better idea of how the federal Medicare program views each plan and how well their customer service has been rated.

Using the Medicare.gov plan finder, a plan’s Star Rating can be found under the plan name. 

Comparing Medicare Plans

When you see a plan you like, check the box that says “Add to compare.” When you have at least two plans selected (and up to four total), you can see a side-by-side comparison of the plans for an easier way to choose one over the other. 

How to Enroll

You may enroll in a plan by clicking on the “Enroll” button. Keep in mind that there are only certain times of the year that you may enroll in certain plans. 

You may also enroll by contacting a licensed insurance agent. Many beneficiaries prefer to use this method, as an agent can answer the many questions you are likely to have, especially if you are enrolling in a private Medicare plan for the first time.

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