Weekend Reading: Exercise Caution with Zero-Premium Medicare Advantage Plans

This article appears as part of Casey Weade's Weekend Reading for Retirees series. Every Friday, Casey highlights four hand-picked articles on trending retirement topics and delivers them straight to your email inbox. Get on the list here.
Weekend reading zero premium medicare advantage plans Weekend reading zero premium medicare advantage plans
Weekend Reading

As the December 7 deadline for Medicare open enrollment quickly approaches, here is a detail to be aware of: Zero-premium Medicare Advantage plans still come with a price tag.


Understanding Advantage plans: The upside of utilizing a Medicare Advantage plan is its ability to offer “extras”, such as dental or vision care, which are not covered in traditional Medicare. And while some of these plans charge no premium, those who enroll in them will still pay a monthly cost for Part B coverage (i.e. – doctor visits and other outpatient care). That total will be $164.90 in 2023, and is most often taken out of Social Security checks.

The caveats: Additionally, Medicare Advantage plans typically limit visits to doctors, hospitals and pharmacies within a network. Care received outside of that network may not be covered, which means before paying attention to the lure of a zero premium, you will want to ensure any specific doctors you prefer are included, as well as any regular prescriptions you require. Lastly, a no-premium plan might only be truly cost-effective for someone healthy. For instance, if later in the year an unexpected health incident arises and you need to see an out-of-state specialist, the expenses could accumulate quickly.

Make note: Nothing in life is truly free. Don’t get caught up in that latest Medicare mailer. Instead, call an independent expert.