Medicare Advantage Plans

Frequently Asked Questions

Q. What is the Affordable Care Act?

A. Medicare and the NEW Health Law (The Affordable Care Act): The Affordable Care Act is the health insurance reform legislation that was passed by Congress and signed into law by President Obama on March 23, 2010. For more information about The Affordable Care Act, visit (link opens in new window) , you can also call 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227), TTY users should call: 1-877-486-2048, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. You can also contact your State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP). In Florida, the State Health Insurance Assistance Program is called SHINE. The toll free number is 1-800-963-5337; TTY users should call 711, Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. You can also write to: 4040 Esplanade Way, Suite 325, Tallahassee, FL 32399-7000.

Q. What is Original Medicare?

A. Medicare is a federal health insurance program for people 65 years old or over and for certain disabled people less than 65 years of age. You are automatically enrolled in Medicare hospital insurance (Part A) when you apply for Social Security benefits (if you have 10 years of creditable employment) – usually upon reaching 65 years of age. Part A covers inpatient care in a hospital or a limited stay in a skilled nursing facility. Part B covers physician and outpatient hospital services.

The premium you pay for Part B is usually deducted from your Social Security benefits. Medicare pays for many healthcare services and supplies, but it doesn't cover all of your healthcare costs. For example, you pay a deductible for each hospital stay and coinsurance anytime you use the services of a physician or surgeon. Also, drug coverage is limited. Because Medicare rarely pays the full cost of covered services, you may want to consider a Medicare Advantage or Medicare Supplement plan.

Q. What is Medicare Advantage?

A. Medicare Advantage is a type of health plan that is an alternative to Original Medicare and was created by the Balanced Budget Act of 1997 and the Medicare Modernization Act of 2003. Some examples of Medicare Advantage plans are:

  • Health Maintenance Organization plans (HMO)
  • Preferred Provider Organization plans (PPO)
  • Private Fee-for-Service plans (PFFS)

Q. What is a Medicare Advantage HMO?

A. An HMO features specific lists of doctors, hospitals, and other providers that you must use to receive benefits. HMOs often provide additional benefits not found in Original Medicare, including coverage for deductibles, steep reductions in coinsurance because you use in-network doctors, a drug benefit plan and wellness or fitness programs. If you select a Medicare Advantage HMO, it replaces your Original Medicare coverage. However, you can return to Original Medicare down the road if you wish.

Q. What is the Medicare Part D drug benefit?

A. As of January 1, 2006, anyone entitled to Medicare Part A and enrolled in Medicare Part B, regardless of income, is eligible to enroll in a prescription drug benefit plan. This benefit was designed to help Medicare consumers handle the rising cost of drugs and give them easier access to prescription medications.

Q. What questions should I consider when choosing a Medicare health plan?

A. Before you select a plan, carefully consider the following questions:

  • Do you already have a doctor you like?
  • Are you choosing a new doctor?
  • Is freedom to choose doctors and hospitals very important to you?
  • Do you need a prescription drug plan?
  • Do you have health problems today or old problems that may recur?
  • What drugs are covered by the plan's formulary?
  • Does your doctor feel comfortable with the plan's guidelines for your treatment?

Q. What is a Prescription Drug Plan (PDP)?

A. A PDP is a private stand-alone prescription drug plan that offers coverage for prescription medications. This plan can be used with Original Medicare or a Medigap plan.

A Part D eligible individual may not be enrolled in more than one PDP at the same time. A Part D eligible individual may not be simultaneously enrolled in a PDP and a Medicare Advantage (MA) plan except for a MA Private Fee-For-Service (PFFS) plan that does not offer the Part D benefit, a Medicare Savings Account (MSA), or unless otherwise provided under CMS waiver authority.

If you're considering a PDP, please keep the following in mind:

  • Optional plan. A PDP is an option – not a requirement. However, if you don't join a PDP or a Medicare Advantage plan with prescription drug coverage when you become eligible, you'll have to pay a higher premium if you join later.
  • Monthly premium. PDPs have a monthly premium in addition to the Medicare premium you already pay. However, some Medicare Advantage plans, including CarePlus, have coverage for prescription drugs as a benefit without an additional monthly premium.
  • No overlap with Medicare Advantage. If you're enrolled in a Medicare Advantage plan, such as an HMO through a private insurance company, you may already have prescription drug coverage. If that's the case, choosing a PDP isn't necessary – in fact, getting a PDP would disenroll you from your Medicare Advantage coverage.

Q. What are the four parts of Medicare?

A. There are four parts to Medicare.

  • Medicare Part A is hospital insurance – including hospital stays, rehabilitative nursing facilities, home health care, and hospice. Most people don't have to pay a premium for Part A because it was prepaid through their payroll tax while they were working.

  • Medicare Part B is medical insurance – including doctors' services and outpatient care. There is a monthly premium for Part B. If you don't sign up for Part B when you first become eligible at age 65, or when you have been disabled for two years and you decide you need to join in the future, you may have to pay a penalty for each year you didn't enroll.

  • Medicare Part C is the Medicare Advantage program. With this option, you can opt to have your Medicare Parts A and B provided by a private company like CarePlus.

  • Medicare Part D is prescription drug coverage. In one way, Part D is like Part B: If you don't join at age 65, you may have to pay a penalty when you do join.

Q. I'm confused about the enrollment dates. Can you help me understand them?

A. Here's a quick review of the key dates and deadlines for the upcoming enrollment dates:

  • December 8, 2014 – November 30, 2015: Beneficiaries may use the 5-Star Special Election Period (SEP) to enroll in the CarePlus 5-Stars plan for enrollment effective dates from January 1- December 1, 2015. This SEP can only be used “once.”
  • October 1 - October 14, 2015: 2016 Benefit and premium information is available from all organizations, so you can shop, compare and be ready to enroll by October 15, 2015.
  • October 15 - December 7, 2015 (Annual Election Period, AEP): Medicare beneficiaries can enroll in a 2016 Medicare health benefits plan, such as a Medicare Advantage HMO plan, Original Medicare, or a stand-alone Prescription Drug Plan (PDP).
  • January 1 - February 14, 2016 (Medicare Advantage Disenrollment Period, MADP): Beneficiaries that have a Medicare Advantage plan can return to Original Medicare, but are no longer able to switch Medicare Advantage plans during this time. Medicare beneficiaries may enroll in a stand-alone Prescription Drug Plan (PDP), which may cause the termination of their Medicare Advantage plan. Changes must be made by February 14, 2016.

Q. Where can I get more information about Medicare Advantage and prescription drug plans, Medical Assistance and my Social Security benefits?

A. For more information about Medicare Advantage or prescription drug plans you can call the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), or go online:

Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS)


TTY 1-877-486-2048

24 hours a day, seven days a week (link opens in new window) 

For more information about Medical Assistance through the state, you can contact Florida Medicaid or call your State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHINE).

Florida (Agency for Health Care Administration)

Website: (link opens in new window) 


TTY 1-800-955-8771

Address: 2727 Mahan Drive, Tallahassee, FL 32308

Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.



TTY 1-800-955-8770

Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

For more information about Social Security or railroad retirement earnings, call or go online:

Social Security Administration (SSA)


TTY 1-800-325-0778

Monday through Friday, 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. (link opens in new window) 

U.S. Railroad Retirement Board


TTY 312-751-4701

24 hours a day, 7 days a week (link opens in new window) 

Q. What is Adobe Acrobat Reader® and why do I need it to view various documents on this Website?

A. Several documents on this website are in Portable Document Format – otherwise known as PDF. These files contain complex documents with graphs, images, and special text that cannot be presented easily through a regular Web browser such as Internet Explorer® or FireFox®. This format also allows you greater flexibility when printing.

The software for viewing these documents is available as a free download from the Adobe Systems website at (link opens in new window) . Installation instructions are also available there.

To find answers to frequently asked questions about CarePlus, please see the below booklets that will help you access your plan benefits and services.

Frequently Asked Questions Booklet

Frequently Asked Question Booklet - English (link opens in new window) 

Frequently Asked Question Booklet - Spanish (link opens in new window) 

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