Wondering how a Medicare Advantage plan can have a $0 premium?

Some Medicare Advantage plans offer $0 premiums. Learn what that means and how health care companies are able to offer these low monthly premiums.

Last year, my folks were going through the Medicare enrollment process. We spent a lot of time doing online research, talking to different companies and looking at different plans.

My parents had a lot of questions. They were really interested in Medicare Advantage plans, but wanted to know how these plans could have a $0 premium.

I get why people ask this question.

Here’s why these plans can offer a $0 premium:

1. You’re still paying your Medicare Part B monthly premium

Every month, you pay your Medicare Part B (medical coverage) premium to the federal government. You pay this premium whether you choose a Medicare Advantage plan or just have Original Medicare.

If you have a Medicare Advantage plan, the federal government then pays your plan a fixed amount each month to help cover the cost of your health care.

2. Focus on preventive care = healthier you + lower costs

Medicare Advantage plans partner with you to stay on top of your regular checkups and recommended procedures. That means you stay healthy and use less care. Staying healthy is not only better for you, it costs less.

Here’s an example. Let’s say you get a preventive health screening and find out you have high blood pressure. Your health plan may connect you with a program to help you lower and manage your blood pressure — saving you future trips to your doctor. That’s a win-win, because it keeps health care costs down for you and your health plan, and it helps prevent other health issues down the road.

3. Plans use networks to provide affordable, high quality care

These networks include specific doctors, clinics and other care providers – ones that deliver high quality care at a lower cost. So, if your doctor is in the network, or you’re willing to pick one from the clinics included, these plans are a great deal for you.

Related article: What is a network?

So those are just a few of the reasons why Medicare Advantage plans can offer a $0 premium. But now you might have other questions, just like my parents did. They wanted to know things like, “Does a lower monthly premium mean lower quality?” or “Will my premium still be $0 next year?”

Want to learn more? Read my blog post “$0 Medicare Advantage premiums, Part II.”