The "best" Medicare coverage depends on your individual medical needs. In other words the best plan for you may be a bad plan for someone else. Medicare regulates the plans offered by the companies, so no company is really better than another. As far as the "cheapest" there is competition between companies on prices, but it really depends on the county and state where your reside, and what type of plan you choose as to what your actual cost will be.
A Medicare Advantage Plan basically replaces your use of Traditional Medicare. You still must pay your Medicare Part B premium that is automatically deducted from your Social Security check, that will not stop when you purchase the Medicare Advantage Plan. The following types of Medicare Advantage plans are available, but not always available depending on your county and state of residence: HMO Pros can be zero or very low cost to you per month, predictable co-pays like $10.00 or $15.00 for doctor's office visits, and lower cost hosptilization than Traditional Medicare, no deductibles, and most will include your Medicare Part D Prescription Plan.
Cons can be a restricted network of doctors that you must use, no maximum out of pocket limits, and some plans may resort to the old "referrals" to see a specialist. PPO Pros can be low cost to you per month, predictable co-pays like $15.00 or $20.00 for doctor's office visits, you can go in or out of network, no deductibles when you stay in network, no referrals for specialist, lower cost hosptilization than Traditional Medicare, an established maximum out of pocket, and most will include your Medicare Part D Prescription Plan.
Cons can be if you do go out of network you'll pay a deductible first before the cost is split by a percentage between you and the insurance company. PFFS This is a "Private Fee For Services" Plan.
First the Cons: The single most important thing to remember about PFFS is the fact that you must contact the doctor or
hospital FIRST to see if they take the plan. Even before you make an appointment to see a doctor, the doctor must tell you that they do indeed accept the terms and conditions of the plan.
The pros are similar to the PPO, it works basically the same. The monthly premiums are typically higher than the PPO, but less than adding a supplement. ONE_MORE_THING!">ONE MORE THING! Now, there are pros and cons when comparing the Medicare Advantage Plans to Traditional Medicare with Medigap, or a Medicare Supplement attached to it. Medigap, also called a Medicare Supplement, basically pays the portion of medical expenses that Medicare expects you to pay. Medicare is an "80/20" plan, meaning Medicare pays 80% of the bill and you pay 20% of the bill. Medigap can pay the 20% for you. Depending on which Medigap plan you choose, the plan can also pay the (2009) $1068.00 hositalization deductible for you and the $135.00 doctor's office deductible for you.
Medigap plans have a monthly premium range anywhere between $80.00/month to $300.00/month, depending on your zip code.
Medicare Supplement Plan F is considered "the Cadillac plan" as it covers almost everything that Medicare, itself, does not cover. This is also the most expensive Medigap plan.
Medicare Supplement Plan G is often 10% lower in cost than Plan F and is exactly the same as F, except that the member must first pay their Medicare Part B deductible each year when seeing the physician for the first time. For 2011, this deductible is $162 for the year. The savings for going with Plan G are often in the $150 to $300 per year range. This means that Plan G is often the best choice for value.
Medigap (Medicare Supplement) plans are all standardized, meaning that they are the same, exact, plans from company to company. The only difference is the amount of premium each company charges for the same coverages. Claims cannot be individually denied and are paid based on whether or not they were Medicare-approved claims. That is the only criteria.