What's the Cost of a Medicare Advantage Plan?

What's the Cost of a Medicare Advantage Plan?

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A Medicare Advantage plan costs $33 per month on average, but a wide variety of options are available, ranging from $0 to more than $300 per month. HMO Medicare Advantage plans are usually the cheapest, averaging $23 per month.

Note that the cost of Medicare Advantage is on top of the $164.90 per month that you pay for Medicare Part B, which is typically deducted from Social Security payments. Medicare Advantage enrollees also pay for a portion of their medical care, and the plan's deductible, copays and out-of-pocket maximum will affect how much you spend on health care.

Cost of a Medicare Advantage plan

A Medicare Advantage plan with prescription drug benefits costs $33 per month, on average.

Cheaper options are available, and many people have access to Medicare Advantage plans that cost $0 per month. With these plans, you wouldn't pay anything on top of what you pay for Medicare Part B. In fact, nearly half of all plans offered cost $0 per month.

cost of Medicare Advantage plans

In addition to the free Medicare Advantage plans, there are also a large number of moderately priced plans. More than a quarter of plans have some cost of less than $50 per month. Plans in this cost range are a popular way to get better coverage than the basic set of benefits. These plans could have lower deductibles, better copayments or more add-on benefits such as dental or vision care, as compared to $0 plans.

Depending on your health care needs, a Medicare Advantage plan with moderate monthly costs may be a good value if the plan's benefits help you save money on health care.

For example, spending $25 per month ($300 per year) on a Medicare Advantage plan would be worth it if the better benefits can save you more than $300 in medical costs, as compared to a $0 Medicare Advantage plan.

There are also more expensive Medicare Advantage plans available. Plans that cost between $50 and $99 per month account for 14% of plans. Medicare Advantage plans that cost more than $100 are less common, only accounting for 10% of all plans offered.

Medicare Advantage rates by plan type

A Medicare Advantage HMO plan costs an average of $23 per month. That's $20 cheaper than the most common type of PPO plan.

The type of Medicare Advantage plan influences how much the plan costs and its benefits. An HMO plan is generally cheaper because it restricts your coverage to the doctors and medical providers that are a part of the plan's network.

Medicare Advantage cost HMO vs. PPO
Medicare Advantage plan type
Average monthly cost
HMO$23
Local PPO$43
HMO-POS$47
Cost plan$53
PFFS$77
Regional PPO$80

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You'll typically pay more for a Medicare Advantage PPO plan, with average costs ranging from $43 to $80 per month. These more expensive plans have the added benefit of more flexibility over where you go for health care. Enrollees have coverage for both in-network and out-of-network health services, which is valuable if you want access to more medical specialists and better coverage when traveling.

The trade-off between an HMO and a PPO plan is cost. Not only does a PPO plan cost more each month, but the plan's benefits may not be as good. And you could also pay more for out-of-network care than in-network care.

Choosing an HMO Medicare Advantage plan is a great way to save money. However, before signing up, it's important to check the list of doctors and to make sure you're satisfied with your access to medical care.

In general, HMO-POS plans are also more expensive than a traditional HMO, but they offer more provider flexibility than HMOs. And they can be a good deal in some areas, such as in Ohio, where an Aetna Medicare Advantage HMO-POS plan costs $0 per month and has a $0 deductible for both medical care and prescription drugs.

The two other plan types are private fee-for-service (PFFS) plans and Medicare Cost plans, both of which are not commonly offered and tend to be more expensive.


Comparing Medicare Advantage costs by insurance company

While insurers typically offer a range of plans, Aetna is the cheapest Medicare Advantage provider with an average cost of $7 per month.

Aetna stands out for having a large quantity of cheap plans, and many of its plans cost $0 per month. An AARP Medicare Advantage plan costs an average of $21 per month, which is middle-of-the-road compared to other national insurance companies.

Humana Medicare Advantage plans have an average cost of $41 per month, in part because the insurer offers a large number of expensive plans costing up to $200 per month. However, there are also many Humana plans that cost $0 per month, which are a popular option that's widely available.

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Your monthly bills when you have Medicare Advantage

Even when you sign up for Medicare Advantage, you'll still have to pay for Original Medicare (Parts A and B).

A Medicare Advantage plan is administered by a private insurance company, but it’s still a part of the government’s Medicare program. So while the cost of Medicare Advantage is determined by the plan you choose, the costs for Medicare Parts A and B are set by the government.

Typical monthly costs:

  1. Medicare Part A (hospitalization): $0

    About 99% of Medicare enrollees don't pay anything for Medicare Part A. That's because this program is largely funded by payroll deductions. While you (or your spouse) were working, you paid a Medicare tax on your income, and as a result, you get Medicare Part A premium-free when you're receiving benefits.

  2. Medicare Part B (medical care): $164.90 per month

    The cost of Medicare Part B is set by the government each year, and most people pay this fee as a deduction from Social Security benefits. The rate that most people pay is about 25% of the actual cost of the plan. Those who have incomes higher than $97,000 pay between 35% and 85% of the plan cost.

  3. Medicare Advantage (bundled coverage): $33 per month, on average

    The cost for a Medicare Advantage plan is what you pay to the private insurance company for the combined coverage for hospitalization and medical care, and usually prescription drug coverage, dental and vision care. A $0 Medicare Advantage plan means you don’t pay anything on top of Medicare Part B. There are also some plans that have what's called a "giveback" program. The plans cost $0 per month and reduce your monthly cost for Medicare Part B.

How much does the government pay for Medicare Advantage plans?

What you pay for a Medicare Advantage plan only represents a portion of the plan's cost. The federal Medicare program also pays the insurance company a flat rate for each Medicare enrollee, typically more than $1,000 per month. The actual payment amount varies based on adjustments for location, plan benefits and overall community health.

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Medicare Advantage benefits: What you pay for health care

On top of what you pay for your Medicare plan, you'll also pay for a portion of your health care costs.

Your health care spending, also called cost sharing, is broken into three categories.

  • Deductible The deductible is the amount you pay toward your health care costs before your plan's benefits kick in. When you're enrolled in a Medicare Advantage plan, the Medicare Part B deductible does not apply. Instead, each plan sets its own deductible for medical care and a separate deductible for prescription drug benefits.

    The average Medicare Advantage deductible varies by location. Some parts of the country with a wide variety of plan options can have great coverage options, and there could be multiple plans available with a $0 deductible. With these plans, the medical benefits begin right away without requiring any upfront spending.

    When choosing a Medicare Advantage plan, you should try to get a plan with a deductible that's less than $1,000. This can help you limit your medical costs, an important feature for seniors and Medicare enrollees who could have increasing health care needs or a fixed income.

  • Copayments/coinsurance

    A copay and coinsurance are your portion of health care costs when the bill is split between you and your insurance company. For example, you could only have to pay $20 for a $100 x-ray. These lower prices are usually only available after you have met your plan's medical deductible.

    Medicare Advantage plans do not have standardized copays or coinsurance. Instead, each plan sets its own amounts. When considering copays, we recommend that you compare Medicare Advantage plans based on the types of medical treatments you expect to need, such as chiropractic care, joint replacement surgery or diabetes care.

  • Out-of-pocket maximum

    The out-of-pocket max is a limit on how much you would spend towards medical care in a year. This gives you protection from very high medical bills, an especially important benefit for those with chronic medical conditions or who expect to need expensive health services.

    The average out-of-pocket maximum for a Medicare Advantage plan is $5,070. However, the amount varies between plans, with each plan providing its own limit on how much an enrollee could spend on covered medical services. That includes your spending toward the deductible, copayments or coinsurance.

    If you expect to need surgery or other expensive medical treatment, choose a plan with a low out-of-pocket max. The plan will generally be more expensive, but it could save you thousands of dollars in medical expenses.

Remember that there’s frequently a trade-off between the cost of a plan and its medical benefits.

With a more expensive Medicare Advantage plan that has better benefits, you’ll pay more each month, but you’ll typically pay less when you need medical care. With a $0 Medicare Advantage plan, your monthly costs will be low, but you could have higher expenses when you need medical care.

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How to get the best deal with a Medicare Advantage plan

How you can save

  • Choose a plan that has benefits that match your medical needs
  • Get a comprehensive bundle that includes prescription drugs, dental and vision
  • Use discounts if you qualify for low-income programs, Medicaid or special needs plans (SNPs)

What to avoid if you want to save money

  • Going outside the network for medical care
  • Getting penalties for signing up late
  • Having a plan with a high out-of-pocket maximum when you need expensive medical care

Frequently asked questions

How much do Medicare Advantage plans cost?

The average cost of a Medicare Advantage plan is $33 per month, but $0 plans are available in many locations. The cost for Medicare Advantage is on top of the $164.90 per month that you pay for Medicare Part B.

How can Medicare Advantage plans cost nothing?

When a Medicare Advantage plan costs $0, that means the amount that the federal Medicare program pays to the insurance company is enough to cover the plan's benefits. With these free Medicare Advantage plans, you don't have any extra costs other than the typical payment for Medicare Part B, which is usually deducted from your Social Security payment.

Are Medicare Advantage plans really free?

Many Medicare Advantage plans cost $0 per month, but enrollees still need to pay for Medicare Part B, which costs $164.90 per month.

Is Medicare Advantage more expensive than Medicare?

A Medicare Advantage plan is usually the cheaper overall option for those with low or moderate medical needs, after considering the cost of the plan and expenses for medical care. Medicare Advantage enrollees typically pay very little each month but will pay a larger portion of medical costs. However, choosing a combination of Medicare, Medicare Supplement and a Medicare Part D plan is usually cheaper for those with chronic health problems or ongoing medical needs. This option has higher monthly costs, but enrollees pay less overall in total medical expenses.

Do Medicare Advantage plans pay 100%?

No, if you have a Medicare Advantage plan, you'll still pay for a portion of your medical costs. This includes out-of-pocket spending toward the plan's deductible, as well as copays for medical services.


Methodology and sources

Medicare Advantage costs are based on 2022 public use files sourced from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS). Average costs are based on plans that include prescription drug coverage. Our analysis excludes employer-sponsored plans, special needs plans, PACE plans, sanctioned plans and health care prepayment plans (HCPPs).

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Callers to QWIS will be directed to a licensed and certified representative of Medicare Supplement insurance and/or Medicare Advantage HMO, HMO SNP, PPO, PPO SNP and PFFS organizations. Calls to QWIS will be routed to a licensed agent who can provide you with further information about the insurance plans offered by one or more third-party partners of QWIS. Each of the organizations they represent has a Medicare contract. Enrollment in any plan depends on contract renewal.

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Deductibles, copays, coinsurance, limitations, and exclusions may apply.

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