Regular Medicare vs. Advantage--how to sort out the best option in a given area

I have much respect for Clark’s advice in general. One topic I am currently questioning his judgement is on the topic of Medicare and his advice on not getting Advantage. I live in Alabama where BCBS has been dominant in all areas of health insurance and have many, many friends and ex-co-workers telling me how wonderful BCBS Advantage has been for them–and some have experienced significant health issues including cancer, broken hip, etc. I’m usually pretty good sorting out these financial issues, but everything I read seems to come down on one side of the issue or the other. Is there anyone that I can trust that will look at individual circumstances and advise me of the right choice for our situation, locale?

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Consumer reports discusses the options of using your State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP) for additional information or contacting an independent Medicare broker. The article from Fortune provides information about brokers.

At a high level, its a simple answer for most people.

If you can afford the premium for a Medicare supplement, and want the best and safest coverage possible… you get a supplement. If you are low income, low asset…or you are perfectly healthy and your crystal ball says you will stay that way…then you will likely get an Advantage plan. Joe Namath only tells you what’s good about them, not what the pitfalls are. If you get an Advantage plan, I would at least suggest a PPO plan in most areas.

If you already have an Advantage plan, you may not be able to get a supplement without health qualifying. So when turning 65, its imporant to make a good decision for your situation.

Best you talk to an independent agent who offers both, and if they are reasonably ethical, they should go over all the pros and cons. Agents that are only in it for the money may push Advantage plans due to the large up front commissions involved…but every year the freebie addons to Medicare Advantage get more and more attractive.

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