Medicare

How Much Does Medicare Part C Cost? Compare Plans & Coverage

How Much Does Medicare Part C Cost?

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For 2022, a Medicare Part C plan costs an average of $33 per month. These bundled plans combine benefits for hospital care, medical treatment, doctor visits, prescription drugs and frequently, add-on coverage for dental, vision and hearing. Keep in mind that what you pay for a Medicare Part C plan will be on top of the cost of Original Medicare.

What is Medicare Part C?

Medicare Part C (also called Medicare Advantage) is a Medicare plan that unifies multiple types of insurance coverage including hospitals, medical care and prescription drugs.

These all-in-one plans are a simplified alternative to Original Medicare, where enrollees get coverage through separate plans: Medicare Part A (hospital and inpatient), Medicare Part B (medical care) and Medicare Part D (prescription drugs).

Medicare Part C plans are offered through private insurance companies and provide coverage that is at least as good as Original Medicare. In other words, if a medical treatment is covered by Original Medicare, then a Medicare Advantage plan must also cover it. But keep in mind that the level of benefits is not always the same between the two.

Part C plans are similar to traditional health insurance because plans have deductibles , copayments and an out-of-pocket maximum . These amounts will vary by plan, and therefore the plan you choose will have a big impact on your medical costs.

What's the average cost of Medicare Part C?

For 2022, the average cost of a Medicare Part C plan with prescription drug coverage is $33 per month.

There's a wide range of plan costs. Many enrollees choose low-cost or free plans, and $0 Medicare Part C plans are available in 49 states. On the high end, some plans can cost several hundred dollars per month. Expensive plans usually provide better benefits such as a broader network of medical providers, more coverage for specialized care or better cost-sharing benefits.

An HMO plan is generally cheaper than a PPO plan. A Medicare Part C HMO plan costs about $23 per month, while local PPO plans average $43 per month. The most expensive plans are Regional PPO plans, which average $80 per month, and Private Fee-for-Service (PFFS) plans, which average $77 per month.

Medicare Part C plan type

# of plans offered
Average monthly cost
HMO951$23
Local PPO567$43
HMO-POS202$47
Cost plan13$53
PFFS19$77
Regional PPO29$80

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Medicare Part C enrollees also pay for Original Medicare

Even though Medicare Part C unifies your coverage and benefits, your monthly costs are managed separately. This means Medicare Part C enrollees will pay for Original Medicare (Parts A and B) as well as the cost of a Medicare Part C plan.

  • Medicare Part A: Usually free
  • Medicare Part B: $170.10 per month deducted from Social Security
  • Medicare Part C: $33 average cost paid to insurance company
Cost of Medicare Part A

(hospital insurance)

Most people get Medicare Part A for free because they’ve been in the workforce for at least 10 years and paid Medicare taxes as a payroll deduction.

If you don't qualify for free Medicare Part A, monthly costs can range from $259 to $471 based on how much you or a spouse has already paid in Medicare taxes.

Cost of Medicare Part B

(medical insurance)

This amount is set annually, and for 2022, Medicare Part B costs $170.10 per month, which is automatically deducted from your Social Security benefits.

Those who have annual incomes above $88,000 will pay a higher rate, and programs are available to help reduce costs for those who have a low income.

Yes, you can get $0 Medicare Part C plans

Many Medicare Part C plans have no additional cost on top of what you pay for Part B. That's not a scam. These $0 Part C plans are available because of how funds are transferred behind the scenes.

Here's how it works. The public pays into the government's Medicare fund for the health care program. Then, funds are distributed to the private insurance companies that administer Medicare Part C plans as a part of a government contract that has a set rate per enrollee. A $0 plan means that the government distribution is enough to pay for the plan's benefits.

Free Medicare Part C plans are popular, and about 65% of enrollees choose a Part C plan with no premium.

The coverage and benefits will vary for the $0 plans. For example, some plans could have a lower deductible, and others could have coverage that’s geared toward certain chronic health conditions.

Some Part C plans provide additional financial benefits for enrollees and will offer a Medicare Part B premium reduction. With these plans, which are frequently called "giveback plans," you won’t pay anything for Part C, and the plan will lower your monthly Part B costs, reducing the total amount you pay for Medicare.

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2022 cost of Medicare Part C by state

Medicare plans vary by location, and some states have plans with very different prices than the national average.

State
Cost
Alabama$30
Arizona$19
Arkansas$24
California$21
Colorado$21
Connecticut$38
Delaware$22
District of Columbia$37
Florida$16
Georgia$23
Hawaii$52
Idaho$42
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Average cost in 2022 for Medicare Part C plans with prescription drug coverage

Medicare Part C plans are cheaper in Nevada, Nebraska, South Carolina, Iowa and Florida, costing an average of $10 to $16 per month. In these states, a large portion of available plans cost $0, which keeps the average costs low.

Medicare Part C plans are generally more expensive in Maryland, Minnesota and Oregon, averaging $65 to $73 per month. This is in part due to the high-cost providers in these states such as Johns Hopkins HealthCare in Maryland and Moda Health Plan in Oregon.

Wyoming is the only state where there are no free Medicare Part C plans available. The two providers operating in the state are UnitedHealthcare and Aetna.

What else do you pay for when you have Medicare Part C?

When considering your Medicare expenses, there are two costs to consider in addition to your monthly premium.

  1. Add-on insurance policies

    Coverage for dental, vision or hearing varies. These benefits may be included in a Part C plan, which means you'd have no additional cost. You could also have to pay a fee to add this coverage or purchase a stand-alone plan.

    A cheaper policy is less likely to include these benefits, and the extra costs can add up. For example, in addition to a $15 Part C plan, you could pay an extra $25 per month for dental coverage and $15 for vision, bringing your total to $55 per month. If you want these coverages, compare the total cost of a cheap policy with add-ons to a more comprehensive policy with a higher price. You may pay less overall by choosing a bundled plan that includes dental and vision coverage.

  2. Out-of-pocket costs for medical care

    Each enrollee will have additional out-of-pocket expenses for medical care including copayment costs for medical treatments and a deductible that must be met before most of the plan’s benefits begin.

    These out-of-pocket costs will vary based on the plan details, and comparing out-of-pocket costs is an important part of choosing the best plan for your needs.

    You’ll get the best overall deal if you look at the total amount you expect to pay for your Medicare plan and your medical costs. For example, those who have high medical needs may be able to save money overall by selecting a more expensive plan with better coverage. Those who need less medical care can save money by signing up for a cheaper plan and paying more for each doctor's visit or medical service.

What does Medicare Part C cover?

A Medicare Part C plan will cover the same medical services as Original Medicare. That means plans will cover doctors, hospital care and many other types of health services. Coverage includes:

  • Inpatient care
  • Outpatient care
  • Doctors and specialists
  • Mental health
  • Home health care
  • Skilled nursing facilities
  • Long-term care
  • Lab tests, X-rays and diagnostics

Keep in mind that even though Part C coverage may be similar to Original Medicare, there are key differences that will affect your access to care and how much you pay for medical services.

Plans have variable benefits

Even though the same set of services is covered by Medicare Part C and Original Medicare, the level of benefits with Medicare Part C may vary.

For example, Original Medicare benefits are standardized, and you’ll usually pay 20% of the cost for doctor services. On the other hand, a Medicare Part C plan will have a specified copayment or coinsurance for each covered service. With one plan, a medical service could cost just $10, and if you have the same medical service with another plan, you could pay 40% of the bill.

Because of this variability, it's important to choose a health plan that has strong coverage for your expected health needs. For example, if you expect to need a joint replacement in the upcoming year, compare plans based on their inpatient hospitalization benefits and access to physical therapy.

Plans provide additional coverage

Part C plans frequently include benefits in addition to what Original Medicare offers. This can include more preventive care, auxiliary health care services and discount programs. As a part of their unified coverage, most plans also include prescription drug coverage, adding in the benefits that would normally be offered through a separate Part D plan.

Medical service
Medicare Part C coverage
Prescription drugs89% of plans include prescription drug coverage
Dental coverage94% of plans have the option for dental care, but sometimes it costs extra
Vision79% of plans provide some level of benefits for eye exams or corrective lenses
Hearing97% of plans cover hearing exams, and 88% of plans provide some coverage for hearing aids
Fitness benefits74% of plans provide some fitness discounts or benefits such as a gym membership
Chiropractic treatmentsAll plans cover medically necessary adjustments, and some plans cover routine adjustments

What are the advantages and disadvantages of Medicare Part C?

The structure and benefits of plans mean that Medicare Part C has both advantages and disadvantages when you’re considering what type of coverage is best for you.

Pros:

  • Covers same medical services as Original Medicare
  • Usually includes prescription drug coverage (Part D)
  • Often includes extras such as dental or vision coverage
Cons:
  • Limited network of providers defined by insurance company
  • Variable amount of cost-sharing benefits
  • Referrals or preauthorization may be needed for some services

Other parts of Medicare

Medicare Part A

Hospital and skilled nursing coverage

Medicare Part B

Medical and doctor coverage

Medicare Part D

Stand-alone prescription plan

Medigap

Cost-sharing benefits on top of Part A and B

Medicare Part C plans

Medicare Part C plan availability will change from location to location, and several providers only operate in select states or service areas. When choosing a Medicare plan, the first step is to find out what providers and plan options are available to you.

If one of our best-rated Medicare Part C plans is available in your region, these picks can help you find a Medicare plan that's a good value. Otherwise, compare cost, coverage and overall rankings to find a plan that works for your medical needs and budget.

Provider
Rating
Monthly cost
Highlights
Kaiser Permanente5.0$57Top-rated plans

Limited availability

AARP/ UnitedHealthcare4.2$21Large network of providers

Includes great add-ons

Cigna4.2$9Strong customer satisfaction

Limited network of providers

Humana4.0$41Widely available

High rate of complaints

Anthem3.9$18Good coverage

Reputation for claim denials

Aetna3.9$7Cheap rates

Low customer satisfaction

Average star ratings and cost of 2022 plans on Medicare.gov

How do you sign up for Medicare Part C?

You can sign up or change your Medicare Part C plan during one of the Medicare enrollment periods.

For most people, initial enrollment in Medicare happens around your 65th birthday, starting three months before your birthday month and ending three months after your birthday month.

  1. Sign up for Original Medicare through the Social Security Administration to get your Medicare card with a unique Medicare number.
  2. Compare available plans to find the option that’s best for you.
  3. Enroll in the Medicare Part C plan through a portal like Medicare.gov or directly through the insurance company.

Because plan availability and benefits change each year, we recommend reviewing your coverage during the annual open enrollment period. This can help you make sure you’re continuing to get the best deal on the level of coverage you need.

Frequently asked questions

How does Medicare Part C work?

Medicare Part C is a bundled insurance plan that can provide coverage for hospital services, medical care, prescription drugs and more. The Medicare plans are administered by a private insurance company rather than directly through the federal government.

Why are some Medicare Part C plans free?

Some Medicare Part C plans are available for $0 because of the behind-the-scenes pricing structures set by the government contracts. What happens is you pay the government for Part A and Part B benefits, and the government pays the health insurance company that administers the benefits. These "free" plans actually mean that the insurance company receives enough from the government to cover the policy's benefits.

Why do you need Medicare Part C?

Medicare Part C is an optional way that you can unify coverage from Medicare Part A (hospital insurance) and Medicare Part B (medical insurance). Many plans also include prescription drug coverage and other benefits such as dental, vision, fitness and more.

Who is eligible for Medicare Part C?

All those who are eligible for Original Medicare are also eligible for a Medicare Part C (Medicare Advantage) plan. You can join a Medicare Advantage plan during your Initial Enrollment Period (IEP). During Medicare Open Enrollment, you can change your Part C coverage or switch between types of Medicare plans.

Methodology

Medicare Part C cost data and star ratings were sourced from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) public use files.

Average costs are based on Medicare Part C 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). Overall and category averages are calculated based on the 1,815 plans for 2022. State averages are calculated based on the total instances of plan options in each county.

Additional sources include Medicare.gov, the Kaiser Family Foundation and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).

Editorial Note: The content of this article is based on the author’s opinions and recommendations alone. It has not been previewed, commissioned or otherwise endorsed by any of our network partners.