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More than 6.4 million people in California are signed up for Medicare, making it the largest U.S. state for Medicare beneficiaries.
Medicare is the government health care program for people of ages 65 and older. Medicare Advantage is a bundled alternative to Medicare that offers all the same benefits and usually some extras, such as cost help with dental and vision coverage.
Medicare Advantage plans offer more benefits than Original Medicare, and they're often cheaper than paying for Medicare and a Medicare Supplement plan. However, they offer less flexibility since you’ll need to get care from within the plan’s network of providers. Weigh your options to determine what plan best suits your needs.
What to know about Medicare in California
With more than 1 in 6 people in the state age 65 and older, California offers a wide variety of Medicare and Medicare Advantage plans.
The average monthly premium in 2022 for a Medicare Advantage plan in California is $18.12. (This is down from $19.69 in 2021.)
There are 458 Medicare Advantage plans available in California in 2022. (This is up from 424 plans in 2021.)
Ninety-five percent of Medicare-eligible people in California have access to a $0-premium Medicare Advantage plan.
Medicare Advantage providers in California
Alignment Health Plan.
Blue Shield of California.
Brand New Day.
Central Health Medicare Plan.
Chinese Community Health Plan.
Clever Care Health Plan.
Imperial Health Plan of California.
Innovative Integrated Health Community Plans.
Inter Valley Health Plan.
Molina Healthcare of California.
SCAN Health Plan.
Sharp Health Plan.
Western Health Advantage.
Top-rated Medicare Advantage plans in California
Each year, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, or CMS, awards every Medicare Advantage plan a star rating on a scale of 1 to 5, with 5 being a top-rated plan. Below are plans that received top marks in California for the 2022 plan year. (Check out more information about Medicare star ratings.)
The plans below are rated 5 stars out of 5 by the CMS:
Kaiser Permanente: Kaiser Permanente Senior Advantage, Kaiser Permanente Senior Advantage Basic, Kaiser Permanente Senior Advantage Enhanced.
Sharp Health Plan: Sharp Direct Advantage Gold Card, Sharp Direct Advantage Platinum Card, Sharp Direct Advantage VIP Plan.
Wellcare: Wellcare Giveback, Wellcare Giveback Focus, Wellcare No Premium (select counties), Wellcare No Premium Best, Wellcare Plus.
The plans below are rated 4.5 stars out of 5 by the CMS:
Aetna Medicare: Aetna Medicare Choice Plan, Aetna Medicare Elite Plan.
Essence Healthcare: Essence Advantage Gold, Essence Advantage Platinum.
SCAN Health Plan: SCAN Alta, SCAN Classic, SCAN Compass, SCAN Options, SCAN Plus, SCAN Prime, SCAN Venture, Scripps Classic, Scripps Plus, Scripps Signature.
This list doesn’t include special needs plans, which restrict membership to people with certain diseases or characteristics, such as having a chronic illness or living in a nursing home.
How to choose a Medicare Advantage plan
It’s crucial to ask a few questions while shopping for the right plan for you. Here’s a quick checklist to help you consider your options:
How much are the plan’s costs? Do you understand what the plan’s premium, deductibles, copays and/or coinsurance will be? Can you afford them?
Is your doctor in-network? If you have a preferred doctor (or doctors) or hospital, make sure they participate in the plan’s network.
Are your prescriptions covered? If you’re on medication, understand how the plan covers it. What tier are your prescription drugs on, and are there any coverage rules that apply to them?
Is there dental coverage? Does the plan offer routine coverage for vision, dental and hearing needs?
Are there extras? Does the plan offer any extra perks, such as fitness memberships, transportation benefits or meal delivery?
You can use Medicare’s plan finding tool to compare plans in your area.
Medicare Advantage providers
Get more information below about some of the major Medicare Advantage providers. These insurers offer plans in most states. The plans you can choose from will depend on your ZIP code and county.
If you have additional questions about Medicare, visit Medicare.gov or call 800-MEDICARE (800-633-4227, TTY 877-486-2048).
Looking for additional insurance in California? Check out these resources: