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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 an all-in-one alternative to Medicare that offers all the same benefits and usually some extras, such as dental and vision coverage.
Medicare Advantage plans offer more benefits than Original Medicare, and they are 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 a large percentage of the population over 65, California offers a wide variety of Medicare and Medicare Advantage plans.
The average monthly premium in 2021 for a Medicare Advantage plan in California is $19.94.
There are 424 Medicare Advantage plans available in California in 2021. (This is up from 372 plans in 2020.)
Ninety-two percent of Medicare-eligible people in California have access to a $0-premium Medicare Advantage plan.
Medicare Advantage providers in California
Alignment Health Plan.
Anthem Blue Cross Life and Health Insurance Co.
Aspire Health Plan.
Blue Shield of California.
Brand New Day.
Central Health Medicare Plan.
Chinese Community Health Plan.
Clever Care Health Plan.
Health Net Community Solutions.
Health Net of California.
Imperial Health Plan of California.
Inter Valley Health Plan.
SCAN Health Plan.
Sharp Health Plan.
Stanford Health Care Advantage.
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 2021 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.
The plans below are rated 4.5 stars out of 5 by the CMS:
SCAN Health Plan: SCAN Classic, SCAN Classic II, SCAN Compass, SCAN Options, SCAN Plus, SCAN Prime, Scripps Classic, Scripps Plus, Scripps Signature, Sharp Direct Advantage Gold Card, Sharp Direct Advantage Platinum Card.
WellCare: WellCare Best, WellCare Dividend, WellCare Plus.
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 Finder to compare plans in your area.
Medicare Advantage providers
Get more information below about some of the major Medicare Advantage providers:
If you have additional questions about Medicare, visit Medicare.gov or call 800-MEDICARE (800-633-4227, TTY 877-486-2048).