We recommend Kaiser Permanente as the best overall Medicare Advantage plan provider in Maryland. Kaiser offers multiple plan options with high customer satisfaction ratings and lower average rates than competitor plans.
Humana customers are also happy with their plans, according to an annual Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) survey. Humana rates are cheaper than the Maryland average, and plans are offered in many areas of the state, unlike with some competitors.
Alterwood Advantage offers multiple plans at reasonable rates, and you can get an Alterwood plan almost anywhere in the state. However, Alterwood plans are not yet rated by CMS, and the insurer has no zero-premium plans.
Maryland has fewer Medicare Advantage options compared to many other states: Only eight insurers offer a combined 22 HMO and PPO plans with drug coverage.
In Maryland, the average cost of a Medicare Advantage HMO or PPO with prescription coverage is $72 per month. Rates range across the state from $0 to $301, but not everyone in Maryland can get a no-cost HMO or PPO plan with drug coverage.
How we choose Medicare plans: To help you find the best Medicare Advantage plans in your state, we review cost, plan availability, benefits and quality of service. Our plan analysis and average rate data focus on HMO and PPO plans that include prescription coverage.
Our Medicare Advantage analysis does not focus on plans with no prescription benefit, Medicare Savings Account (MSA) plans or Special Needs Plans (SNPs).
How CMS rates Medicare plans: CMS measures Medicare Advantage plans in several categories, including delivery of health care, member experience and customer service.
When comparing CMS plan ratings, we use state-specific data rather than nationwide numbers.
Compare Medicare Advantage plans in Maryland
Maryland residents can compare coverage among 22 Medicare Advantage HMO or PPO plans with drug coverage offered by eight insurers in the state. Some shoppers focus on specific plan features such as prescription coverage or monthly costs, while others choose a plan based on multiple factors.
The city of Baltimore is not part of any county in Maryland. For clarity, we included the city of Baltimore in the Number of counties where plans are offered column.
If quality service and cost are important to you, Kaiser plans are worth considering, as they're among the most highly rated plans with the lowest average rates in Maryland.
UnitedHealthcare plans are also highly rated in Maryland. The company offers AARP PPO plans with drug coverage at an average price of $18. These plans are sold only in Howard, Montgomery and Prince George's counties, which are three of the most highly populated counties in Maryland. UnitedHealthcare also offers three Erickson Advantage HMOs to residents of Erickson Senior Living located in Silver Spring, Md., at an average monthly cost of $90.
Maryland residents looking for high customer satisfaction might avoid Cigna and Johns Hopkins HealthCare, as each insurer received a mediocre CMS score of 3.5 of 5 stars. Cigna customers reported concerns with coverage of their doctors and hospitals, while Johns Hopkins members left their plans mainly due to cost.
Should I choose an HMO or PPO plan?
When shopping for a Medicare Advantage plan, you'll likely have multiple plan types to choose from, including HMO and PPO options. Here are some differences to consider when selecting your plan.
- With an HMO, you'll pay less out of pocket, but you must choose a primary care physician to coordinate your health care and will usually need referrals for specialists. You also must stay within the provider network, except in emergencies.
- PPOs do not require referrals for specialty care. You're free to receive health care outside the plan provider network, but you will usually pay more and have a higher out-of-pocket maximum for out-of-network care.
Best cheap Medicare Advantage plan in Maryland
Monthly rate$42 ?
Why it's great
- Kaiser has the best cheap plan in Maryland due to its high customer service rating and low average rate of $42 per month.
- It's available in 10 counties and Baltimore city.
Kaiser Permanente has the highest customer satisfaction rating available and the lowest average rates in Maryland.
Kaiser offers four Medicare HMO plans that include drug coverage and no medical or drug deductible, so your benefits start right away. Monthly rates range from $0 to $142, and out-of-pocket maximums are between $5,700 and $7,200. The higher your monthly rates, the lower the out-of-pocket maximum.
|Kaiser Permanente Medicare Advantage Value MD||$0||$0||$0||$7,200|
|Kaiser Permanente Medicare Advantage Standard MD||$25||$0||$0||$6,900|
|Kaiser Permanente Medicare Advantage High MD||$142||$0||$0||$5,700|
|Kaiser Permanente Medicare Advantage Value MD Balt||$0||$0||$0||$7,200|
The Medicare Advantage Value MD Balt plan is available only to Baltimore city residents.
Since all Kaiser plans are HMOs, you must use network providers and work with a primary care doctor to coordinate your care. Kaiser primary care copays are only $5 or $10, depending on the plan, which is low compared to many competitors. You'll pay between $30 and $50 to see a specialist.
All four Kaiser plans provide extras including vision, dental, hearing, nonemergency transportation and fitness benefits. There's also an over-the-counter benefit, which provides between $30 and $60 per month — depending on the plan — to order over-the-counter items directly from Kaiser. You can use the benefit to get health-related items like pain relievers, thermometers or diabetic supplies.
You can get a Kaiser plan if you live in the city of Baltimore or in one of the 10 counties where Kaiser plans are offered.
Best plan for mail-order prescriptions
Humana received an overall customer rating of 4 stars, and 98% of Humana members reported being happy with the plan's prescription service.
Monthly rate$70 ?
Why it's great
- The HumanaChoice drug benefit provides low-cost insulin, has low copays and has no deductible for the first three levels of drug coverage.
- It's available in 13 counties.
Humana offers one Medicare Advantage plan with drug coverage in Maryland, called the HumanaChoice PPO. A highlight of the Humana plan is the prescription benefit. There is no deductible for insulin or for tier 1, 2 or 3 drugs — also known as preferred generic, generic or preferred brand prescriptions. For tiers 4 and 5, known as nonpreferred and specialty drugs, you pay the first $265 out of pocket each calendar year.
For tiers 1-3, your copays range from $0 to $141 for a 90-day prescription using a Humana mail-order or retail pharmacy. Copays for tier 4 drugs are between $100 and $300, and you'll pay 28% of the cost of tier 5 prescriptions.
In 2022, Humana is offering coverage through the Insulin Savings Program, which provides 30-day supplies of insulin for $35 with no deductible. For 2023, these low prices for insulin will be available from all insurance companies selling Medicare Advantage plans. This is because of expanded benefits that were established with a wide-reaching federal law called the Inflation Reduction Act.
HumanaChoice costs $70 per month. You won't pay a medical deductible but will pay $15 for a primary care doctor visit and $45 to see a specialist. Your out-of-pocket maximum for in-network medical care is $7,550, which increases to $10,000 if you go outside the Humana network.
HumanaChoice includes routine vision, dental and hearing coverage, along with a fitness benefit through SilverSneakers. There's also a meal delivery service that sends meals to your home after a hospital stay for specific health conditions such as congestive heart failure.
HumanaChoice provides $25 every three months for select over-the-counter health and wellness products purchased through Humana. But if you need a ride to a routine doctor visit, you're better off with a Kaiser plan, as Humana does not provide a transportation benefit.
Humana doesn't cover residents of Baltimore city.
Best new Medicare Advantage plan in Maryland
Alterwood Advantage sells only two HMO policies with drug benefits, as well as a Special Needs Plan and an HMO without drug coverage.
Both Alterwood Advantage HMOs have no medical or drug deductible, free preventive care and free primary doctor visits. With these Alterwood Advantage HMOs, you don't need a referral to see your specialist. That's a rare feature for an HMO and can make your health care needs easier to manage.
The Alterwood Advantage Choice HMO costs $37 per month but has higher out-of-pocket costs, so it works well for healthier patients. Specialist and urgent care visits are $35, compared to $20 with Alterwood Advantage Choice Plus. You'll pay $295 per day for the first six days of a hospital stay with the Choice plan, compared to a flat fee of $350 with Choice Plus — no matter how long you're there. Copays for generic and preferred generic drugs are between $0 and $8.
The Alterwood Advantage Choice Plus HMO costs $125 per month but has lower out-of-pocket costs than Advantage Choice, so it's best for people who use their insurance often. You pay nothing to see your primary care doctor and lower copays for specialists and outpatient care compared to Advantage Choice. Generic and preferred generic drugs are free with Advantage Choice Plus, whether you buy retail or order by mail.
Alterwood Advantage plans provide dental, vision and hearing benefits, routine transportation, and a quarterly allowance of $25 for over-the-counter products and essential food pantry items ordered through the Alterwood Advantage catalog. The quarterly allowance is comparable to other plans and a bit lower than the Kaiser benefit, but only the Alterwood plan covers food items.
Alterwood doesn't have a free HMO with drug coverage, but the Advantage Choice drug benefits are worth the $37 monthly rate. While Humana drug coverage is a slight upgrade, the $70 premium is almost twice the Alterwood price.
Alterwood is sold in most areas of Maryland but isn't available to residents of Allegany, Calvert, Frederick, Garrett and St. Mary's counties.
How do I choose a Medicare Advantage plan?
Depending on where you live, you will have up to eight Medicare Advantage insurers and 22 total plans to choose from in Maryland. To help with your selection, here are a few things to keep in mind when searching for your plan:
- If you take prescription medications, are they covered?
- Do you need dental benefits?
- Are your health care providers in the plan's network?
- Do the plan costs, including monthly payments and out-of-pocket charges, work for your budget?
- Does the plan offer additional perks, such as fitness memberships, transportation benefits or meal delivery?
You'll have the chance to choose a Medicare Advantage plan when you first become eligible for Medicare and then each year afterward during open enrollment.
Frequently asked questions
Does Maryland have Medicare Advantage?
Yes, Medicare Advantage plans are sold throughout Maryland. Eight insurers offer a total of 22 HMO and PPO plans with drug coverage across the state, but availability varies depending on where you live.
What company has the best Medicare Advantage program in Maryland?
Kaiser members are happy with their plans based on the company's high customer service rating. Kaiser offers four HMO plans at an average monthly cost of $42, which is the lowest in the state.
Is Medicare Advantage sold everywhere in Maryland?
Yes, Medicare Advantage plans are sold in all 23 Maryland counties and in the city of Baltimore. But only eight insurers offer plans, some in more limited areas. For example, Aetna plans are available in only three Maryland counties.
What if I can't find a Medicare Advantage plan that works for me?
Methodology and sources
Our analysis of Medicare Advantage plans in Maryland excludes plans that do not provide prescription drug coverage, employer group plans and Special Needs Plans (SNPs).
Medicare plan data is sourced from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) public use files and from Medicare.gov. We compared 2022 plans based on cost, coverage, quality and availability. When needed, we combined affiliated company rates to calculate insurer averages.