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Medicare Advantage Plans (Medicare Part C) in California

medicare advantage plans in California

There are numerous Medicare Advantage Plans for California that are available, including Health Maintenance Organizations (HMOs), Preferred Provider Organizations (PPOs), and Special Needs Plans (SNPs). These plans offer additional benefits, such as dental, vision, and hearing services. 

This article will provide an overview of Medicare Advantage Plans in California, including types, coverage, enrollment, comparison, and selection process. Learn about Medicare Advantage benefits for newcomers or those considering switching from Original Medicare with this guide.

What are Medicare Advantage Plans?

Medicare Advantage Plans in California are private health insurance plans that provide an alternative to Original Medicare. Private companies approved by Medicare provide these plans to individuals who are eligible for Medicare.

The purpose of Medicare Advantage Plans in California is to offer grantees more choices and adjustability in their healthcare coverage. These plans offer Original Medicare benefits, plus prescription drugs and vision, hearing, and dental services in some plans.

Types of Medicare Advantage Plans in California 2023

Three main types of Medicare Advantage Plans exist Health Maintenance Organizations, Preferred Provider Organizations, and Special Needs Plans.

  • HMOs must choose a primary care physician and generally only cover services provided by healthcare professionals within their network.
  • PPOs allow beneficiaries to see any healthcare professional they choose, but they may pay more for services outside their network. 
  • SNPs are designed for individuals with specific healthcare needs, such as chronic conditions or traditional care.

Coverage and Benefits of Medicare Advantage Plans

Medicare Advantage Plans in California must provide all the benefits of Original Medicare, including hospitalization, doctor visits, and preventative care. Some plans may offer additional benefits, such as prescription drug coverage and vision, hearing, dental services, Part B premium giveback, flex cards, over the counter items giveback, gym memberships, and much more!

The coverage and benefits of Medicare Advantage Plans in California may vary depending on the chosen plan. Still, some standard coverage and benefits may include below:

  1. Hospital care: Medicare Advantage Plans typically cover inpatient hospital care, including hospital stays and surgeries.
  2. Medical services: It may cover various medical services, including doctor visits, lab tests, and X-rays.
  3. Prescription drug coverage: This plan includes prescription drug coverage, which can help reduce out-of-pocket medication costs.
  4. Preventive care: It often covers preventive care services, such as annual wellness visits and routine screenings.
  5. Dental, vision, and hearing care: Some Medicare Advantage Plans may offer additional coverage for dental, vision, and hearing care, which Original Medicare does not typically cover.
  6. Fitness benefits: Some plans, such as gym memberships and fitness classes, may offer fitness benefits.
  7. Transportation: Certain Medicare Advantage Plans may provide transportation services for medical appointments.

It’s important to note that coverage and benefits can vary depending on the specific Medicare Advantage Plan and insurance provider. We recommend carefully reviewing the plan’s details before enrolling to ensure it meets your healthcare needs.

Enrollment in Medicare Advantage Plans

Determine your eligibility:

You are eligible to enroll in Medicare Advantage Plans in California if you are under the age of 65 and have a qualifying disability.

Know the enrollment periods:

There are three enrollment periods in California for Medicare Advantage Plans: the Initial Enrollment Period (IEP), the Annual Enrollment Period (AEP), and the Special Enrollment Period (SEP).

1. Initial Enrollment Period (IEP)

It is a period of time when individuals who are newly eligible for Medicare can enroll in an MA plan for the first time. The IEP occurs when a person turns 65 or becomes eligible for Medicare due to a disability or certain medical conditions.


The IEP lasts seven months, starting three months before the person’s 65th birthday or the 25th month of receiving disability benefits. During the IEP, individuals can enroll in an MA plan, including Health Maintenance Organizations (HMOs), Preferred Provider Organizations (PPOs), and other Medicare Advantage plans.


If an individual enrolls in an MA plan during their IEP, their coverage typically begins on the first day of the month after they enroll. Individuals must review their options and choose a plan that meets their healthcare needs and budget during their IEP, as they may face penalties or delays in coverage if they do not enroll in a Medicare-approved plan during this time.


2. Annual Enrollment Period (AEP) 

A period of time when Medicare beneficiaries can make changes to their MA coverage. The AEP takes place every year from October 15th to December 7th.


During the AEP, beneficiaries can:


  • Enroll in an MA plan for the first time if they are eligible for Medicare.
  • Switch from one MA plan to another, including changing to a plan with different benefits, costs, or provider networks. Disenroll from an MA plan and return to Original Medicare, with or without a standalone prescription drug plan (Part D).
  • Enroll in a standalone prescription drug plan (Part D) if they return to their Original Medicare.

It’s important to note that changes made during the AEP will generally take effect on January 1st of the following year. Beneficiaries should carefully review their options and make any necessary changes during the AEP to ensure they have a plan that meets their healthcare needs and budget for the upcoming year.


3. Special Enrollment Period (SEP) 

It provides Medicare beneficiaries with additional opportunities to change their MA coverage outside of the standard Annual Enrollment Period (AEP). Eligibility for SEPs varies depending on the specific circumstances of the beneficiary, and it’s important to carefully review options and eligibility before making any changes to MA coverage.

Wesley Evans

4. Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period (MA-OEP) 

It is a period of time during which Medicare beneficiaries who are enrolled in a Medicare Advantage (MA) plan can make changes to their coverage. This period runs from January 1st to March 31st each year.


During the MA-OEP, beneficiaries who are enrolled in an MA plan can:


  • Switch to a different MA plan.
  • Switch from an MA plan back to Original Medicare, with or without a standalone prescription drug plan (Part D).
  • Add or change a standalone prescription drug plan (Part D) if they switch from an MA plan back to Original Medicare.

It’s important to note that not all beneficiaries are eligible to make changes during the MA-OEP. For example, beneficiaries already enrolled in Original Medicare with a standalone prescription drug plan cannot make changes during this period.


Overall, the MA-OEP allows Medicare beneficiaries to review and change their coverage, ensuring they have a plan that meets their needs and preferences.


Check out the video for Beginner’s guide.

Wesley Evans

Factors to consider in selecting a Medicare Advantage Plan

You must consider several factors when choosing a Medicare Advantage Plan in California. 

  • Network of healthcare providers: It refers to the group of doctors, hospitals, clinics, and other healthcare facilities contracted with a particular Medicare Advantage Plan to provide healthcare services to its members.
  • Coverage options:  For services such as prescription drugs, vision care, and dental care.
  • Budget Costs: Monthly premiums, copayments, and deductibles.
  • Plan’s star ratings: The plan’s quality of care, member satisfaction, and customer service determine these star ratings based on several factors. Plans with higher star ratings may offer more comprehensive benefits, have a wider network of providers, and have fewer out-of-pocket costs for beneficiaries.
  • Personal healthcare needs: Specialized medical care, prescription drugs, or ongoing treatment for chronic conditions. 

Pros and Cons of Medicare Advantage Plans


  • More comprehensive coverage: MA plans typically offer additional benefits beyond what is covered under traditional Medicare, such as vision, dental, and hearing coverage, as well as fitness programs, transportation services, and over-the-counter (OTC) drug allowances.
  • Cost savings: MA plans often have lower out-of-pocket costs than traditional Medicare, including lower deductibles and copayments. Many MA plans also have a maximum out-of-pocket limit, which can provide greater financial protection for beneficiaries.
  • Care coordination: MA plans often provide care coordination services, such as case management and disease management programs, to help beneficiaries manage their health conditions and navigate the healthcare system.
  • Network options: MA plans often have provider networks, providing beneficiaries access to a broader range of healthcare providers and services than traditional Medicare.
  • Prescription drug coverage: Many MA plans include prescription drug coverage (Part D), which can save beneficiaries money on their medications.



  • Limited provider networks: Some MA plans may have limited provider networks, which can restrict beneficiaries’ choice of healthcare providers and services.
  • Plan restrictions: MA plans may have restrictions on certain healthcare services, such as requiring prior authorization for specific procedures or treatments, which can result in delays in care.
  • Changes to coverage: MA plans can change their benefits and provider networks yearly, resulting in changes to beneficiaries’ coverage and out-of-pocket costs.
  • May not cover all healthcare needs: Such as specialized care for specific medical conditions.

Frequently Asked Questions

Finding a low-cost, high-quality primary care doctor in California who accepts Medicare Advantage insurance is possible in a number of ways. Contacting the provider of your Medicare Advantage plan can provide you with a list of in-network doctors to start with. Use websites like ZocDoc or Healthgrades to read consumer reviews and identify highly rated doctors in your region. Alternatively, using Medicare’s Physician Compare feature, you can search for primary care doctors nearby. Asking friends, relatives, or medical experts for ideas might also be beneficial.

Several companies, including well-known insurance providers like UnitedHealthcare, Humana, Aetna, Cigna, and Anthem Blue Cross, provide Medicare Advantage plans. The following areas also offer Medicare Advantage plans: Blue Shield of California, Health Net, SCAN Health Plan, and Kaiser Permanente. Examining and contrasting the many plans provided by these companies is crucial in selecting the best company that satisfies your healthcare demands and financial requirements. contrasting the many plans provided by these companies is crucial.

Final Thought

So you are probably wondering why I didn’t give you a direct answer to the question, “What is the best Medicare Advantage Plan in California”?

The short answer is I’m not allowed to.

Yup, prohibited from doing so without express written consent and face losing my license if I mistakingly used an incorrect word or phrase.

I have a Youtube video about this:

Wesley Evans

If you live in Southern California, you can search for my recommended Medicare Advantage plans and carriers.

Additionally, you can schedule a phone call to discuss your Medicare options in more detail.

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