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Medicare Advantage PPO Plans


Medicare PPO plans are a type of Medicare Advantage policy in which beneficiaries can enroll. These plans can give you the freedom to see doctors outside of networks without having to pay the full cost of coverage out-of-pocket.

Medicare Advantage plans are sold by private insurance companies, so they may have different costs and features. Medicare PPO plans give you more flexibility in managing your health care but can come at a higher cost.

What is a Medicare Advantage PPO Plan?

An essential feature of a Preferred Provider Organization (PPO) plan is its network of doctors, hospitals, and health care providers. If you visit a provider in the plan’s network, the copays, coinsurance, or other costs are billed at an in-network rate.

However, if you use health services outside of your network, you will pay higher out-of-network costs. Thus, when you enroll in a Medicare PPO plan, you can see any provider you wish, but if the visit is out of network, your costs could be higher.

To cap your out-of-pocket costs, Medicare PPO plans have an out-of-pocket maximum in place. This sets a specific dollar amount as the most you can spend out of your own pocket for health care on your plan during a calendar year. Once you reach the out-of-pocket maximum, the Medicare PPO plan picks up 100% of your health care costs.

With a Medicare PPO plan, you typically will not need a referral from your primary care doctor to see a specialist. Many Medicare Advantage PPO plans include prescription drug coverage, and some even offer vision and dental benefits.

Because Medicare PPO plans are sold by individual insurance companies, the costs, out-of-pocket maximums, and types of plans available will vary depending on the insurance company, plan, and service area.

Medicare Advantage PPO Eligibility

Joining a Medicare Advantage PPO plan is simple. To enroll, there is no need to answer underwriting health questions. To join a Medicare Advantage PPO plan, you must first enroll in Original Medicare. If you are enrolling for the first time, you can do so during your Initial Enrollment Period.

If you have previously enrolled in Medicare and are looking to switch to a Medicare Advantage PPO plan, you can do so during the Annual Enrollment Period every year from October 15 through December 7.

Keep in mind, if you are outside either of these enrollment periods, you may not make a change to your plan unless you qualify for a Special Enrollment Period.

Medicare PPO Plan vs. Medicare HMO Plan

When it comes to cost, Medicare PPO plans tend to have a higher monthly premium and deductible than Medicare HMO plans. This is due to the flexibility of coverage.

Similar to Medicare PPO plans, Medicare HMO plans have a network of health care providers. However, with an HMO plan, you do not have coverage if you see a doctor outside of your plan’s network. You typically must choose your primary care provider from your plan’s network. You may pay the full cost of care if the doctor you choose does not accept your plan.

A Medicare PPO plan beneficiary may see non-network providers. However, it costs more than staying within the network. HMOs usually operate with a network of local healthcare providers. Some PPOs may have broader networks.

Medicare PPO Vs. Original Medicare

A Medicare Advantage PPO plan must cover the same types of services as Original Medicare. However, the main difference between the two is that Original Medicare runs through the government. On the other hand, Medicare Advantage plans are available through private insurance companies.

This means that the premiums and out-of-pocket costs for Medicare Advantage PPO plans may vary.

Unlike Medicare Advantage PPO plans, Original Medicare does not have provider networks. You can see whatever health care provider you want, as long as the provider accepts Medicare assignment.

So, no matter which doctor you see, you will always pay the same price. However, if a doctor does not accept Medicare, you will need to pay the full cost of services on Original Medicare or a Medicare PPO plan.

When you enroll in Original Medicare, you are eligible to enroll in a Medicare Supplement plan to help cover out-of-pocket costs. However, you cannot get a Medicare Supplement plan if you have a Medicare Advantage PPO plan – or any Medicare Advantage plan.

How to Enroll in a Medicare Advantage PPO Plan

Health care costs are rising, so it is more important now than ever to find the right Medicare plan. MedicareFAQ can help by researching the rates for top insurance companies in your area and getting you free quotes on coverage.

Give us a call or fill out our form to start the comparison process. The best policy for you depends on your situation. We can help you discover your best options.

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Jagger Esch

Jagger Esch is the Medicare expert for MedicareFAQ and the founder, president, and CEO of Elite Insurance Partners and MedicareFAQ.com. Since the inception of his first company in 2012, he has been dedicated to helping those eligible for Medicare by providing them with resources to educate themselves on all their Medicare options. He is featured in many publications as well as writes regularly for other expert columns regarding Medicare.

3 thoughts on “Medicare Advantage PPO Plans

  1. Hi Linda! First off, I’m so sorry to hear about the passing of your mother. Medicare Advantage plans do have copays & coinsurance. Without seeing the bills, it would be hard to say for sure, but it seems like the bills coming from UHC are probably the coinsurance and/or copays left over after the Advantage plan paid their portion of your mothers’ medical costs for services received not related to hospice care. That’s one of the biggest disadvantages of Medicare Advantage plans, they choose how much of each service they want to cover. Original Medicare is not responsible for paying any medical bills that were not directly connected to her hospice care. Original Medicare is responsible for all her hospice care bills. UHC is responsible for THEIR portion of your mothers’ medical bills NOT associated with hospice. Then, your mother is responsible for any copays and/or coinsurance that fall under the Advantage plan for services NOT associated with hospice. I hope this helps!

  2. How is a medicare health plan with prescription drug coverage different from a medicare supplemental ins?

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