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How to Choose the Right Medicare Advantage Plan

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More than one-third (34%) of all Medicare beneficiaries - 22 million people - are now enrolled in Medicare Advantage plans, according to Kaiser Family Foundation. That's twice as many who were enrolled in Medicare Advantage plans 10 years ago.

Why have these plans grown in popularity?

Convenience and cost are two big reasons.

Medicare Advantage plans provide all of your Part A and Part B benefits, and in many cases, prescription drug coverage or what is also known as Part D coverage. Read Medicare Advantage Plans. In fact 90% of Medicare Advantage plans now offer prescription drug coverage, and most Medicare Advantage enrollees (88%) are in plans that include this prescription drug coverage, according to Kaiser Family Foundation.

In terms of cost, more than half (56%) of those enrolled in an MA plan pay no premium for their plan, other than the Medicare Part B premium, says Kaiser Family Foundation. And among MA-PD enrollees who pay a premium for their plan, the average premium is $65 per month.

But there's another reason why these plans have grown in popularity, according to Donato Tramuto, the CEO of Tivity Health and author of Life's Bulldozer Moments. What's unique, Tramuto said in an interview with TheStreet at the MIT Age Lab Tivity Health Fitness, Food, and Friends symposium, is that Medicare Advantage plans are "addressing health care and not sick care."

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For too long, the health care system in the U.S. addressed sick care. "We wait until the individual gets sick and then we put all the resources," said Tramuto.

But Medicare Advantage plans are more about managed care, and managing the care of what Tramuto calls the healthy, the stable chronic, and the severe chronic.

How best to pick a Medicare Advantage plan? Look for programs that offer physical fitness as a benefit, as well as those that address your nutritional needs and understand the health issues associated loneliness and social isolation.

For more about Medicare Advantage plans and other retirement-related topics subscribe to Retirement Daily, which publishes articles and commentary designed to help everyone plan for and live in retirement. Get more information and sign up for a free trial subscription to TheStreet's Retirement Daily.

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