The alternative to enrolling in an Advantage Plan is to remain on original Medicare. In that case, you can visit any provider across the country that accepts Medicare.
In that case, however, you’d have to sign up for a stand alone drug plan. For people in areas with limited or no access to Advantage Plans, this is a common route.
Keep in mind that if you didn’t get drug coverage when you were first eligible for Medicare and change your mind later, you’ll generally pay a late enrollment penalty forever (unless you meet an exclusion). You can also sign up for this coverage or change it during this fall enrollment period.
Also, be aware that original Medicare does not cover all costs, including co-payments, co-insurance or deductibles. To mitigate those expenses, some people purchase a supplemental (Medigap) policy. Depending on the level of coverage, their premiums can run more than $200 monthly.
The enrollment rules for Medigap policies are different from those applying to Advantage Plans and prescription drug coverage: If you didn’t sign up soon after you turned 65, you could be subject to medical underwriting and your acceptance isn’t guaranteed as it is during your initial qualifying period.
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