Medicare Part C (Medicare Advantage plans)
With the passage of the Balanced Budget Act of 1997, Medicare beneficiaries were given the option to receive their Medicare benefits through private health insurance plans, instead of through the original Medicare plan (Parts A and B). These programs were known as "Medicare+Choice" or "Part C" plans. Then as part of the Medicare Modernization Act of 2003, "Medicare+Choice" plans were made more attractive to Medicare beneficiaries by the addition of prescription drug coverage and became known as "Medicare Advantage" (MA) plans.
Part C Medicare Advantage plans are required to offer coverage that meets or exceeds the standards set by the original Medicare program, but they do not have to cover every benefit in the same way. If a plan chooses to pay less than Medicare for some benefits, like skilled nursing facility care, the savings may be passed along to you by offering lower copayments for doctor visits. Medicare Advantage plans also limit your annual out-of-pocket spending on medical care with limits to protect you in the event of an catastrophic illness or event. And some plans offer dental coverage, vision coverage and other services not covered by Medicare Parts A or B, which makes them a good value for the health care dollar.
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