medicare advantage plans bad

Medicare Plans to Avoid

Choosing Wisely

Medicare, as a fundamental component of the United States healthcare system for individuals aged 65 and older, has been the backbone of senior healthcare coverage for decades. While the program is designed to ensure access to essential health services without causing financial strain, not all Medicare plans are created equal. Some come with hidden costs, limited coverage or poor customer service that can turn the golden years into a stressful period of navigating bureaucratic red tape. In this article, we delve into the worst Medicare plans and highlight companies that have received criticism for their Medicare offerings.

Worst Medicare Plans

Before delving into specific companies, it's important to understand that the marketplace for Medicare plans is complex, consisting of Original Medicare, Medicare Advantage Plans (Part C), Prescription Drug Plans (Part D) and Medicare Supplement Insurance (Medigap). Here are the types of plans that can often prove problematic for consumers.

Overpriced Medicare Advantage Plans

Medicare Advantage, or Part C, plans may cover additional services like vision, dental and hearing aids, but they sometimes come at a higher cost than is reasonable. Look out for plans with premiums that do not correspond to the additional benefits. They might not offer any real advantage over Original Medicare, especially considering the potential limitations on your choice of healthcare providers.

High Deductible Medicare Supplement (Medigap) Plans

While Medigap plans can help pay some of the healthcare costs that Original Medicare doesn't cover, high deductible options might not be the best choice for everyone. For those who frequently visit doctors or need regular healthcare services, the higher upfront costs before coverage kicks in may lead to unanticipated expenses.

Prescription Drug Plans with Limited Formularies

Part D plans can have drastically different formularies, which are the lists of the medications they cover. Some plans may have a restricted formulary that excludes certain drugs or places necessary medication on higher-cost tiers, leading to substantial out-of-pocket expenses for beneficiaries who require specific prescriptions.

Plans with Low Star Ratings

Every year, Medicare evaluates plans based on a five-star rating system. Plans with low ratings consistently provide poor customer service and encounter issues with billing and claims support. Beneficiaries should be wary of plans that have consistently received ratings below three stars.

Plans with Restrictive Networks and Referral Requirements

Some Medicare Advantage plans have narrow networks, limiting your choice of doctors and hospitals. Additionally, you may need a referral to see a specialist, which can delay care. It's vital to consider your flexibility when choosing providers and whether you're comfortable with potential restrictions.

Medicare Advantage Plans with Hidden Costs

Although some Medicare Advantage Plans offer $0 premiums, they can come with hidden costs such as high deductibles, co-pays and co-insurance fees. Thoroughly researching and comparing out-of-pocket costs across plans is crucial.

Companies Providing Sub-Par Medicare Plans

When considering which companies to avoid, it's important to rely on the most current data from user experiences, independent reviews and regulatory actions. Here are some companies that have received low ratings and criticism for their Medicare plans.


UnitedHealthCare is one of the largest providers of Medicare Advantage plans. While many of their plans are well-received, there have been complaints about their plans having higher out-of-pocket maximums compared to some competitors. Be sure to compare the total cost you could pay in a year, not just the monthly premium.


WellCare focuses on government-sponsored healthcare plans, including Medicare. Some users have reported concerns with WellCare regarding their customer service and the clarity of their plan information. It’s important to ensure transparent communication and understand exactly what your plan entails before enrolling.


Aetna, now a CVS Health company, offers a variety of Medicare plans. Some Aetna plans have limited networks, so beneficiaries should always check whether their preferred providers are covered. Additionally, scrutinize the drug formulary to make sure your medications are covered at a reasonable cost.


Cigna is a global health service company offering Medicare plans in select regions. One issue identified by some users is that their plans’ benefits can be quite regional, making it difficult for those who travel frequently or live in multiple places throughout the year. Always confirm the service area and options for out-of-network or out-of-area care.


Humana is a well-known provider of Medicare plans, but there have been instances where customers faced unexpected cost increases, particularly with prescription drugs. Review the plan's drug coverage each year during the Annual Election Period, as formularies can change.

What to Look for in Good Medicare Plans

Here are some tips on what to look for when choosing a Medicare plan.

Comprehensive coverage: A good plan should cover a wide range of services, including hospital services, medical services and prescription drugs, with additional benefits like vision, dental or hearing when possible.

Reasonable out-of-pocket costs: Look for plans that balance premiums, deductibles and copayments in a way that is manageable for your budget.

High medicare star ratings: Plans with a history of four or higher star ratings are often a testament to their customer satisfaction and management.

Good customer service: Reliable customer support can be crucial when dealing with health issues. Read reviews and evaluate the company's commitment to customer service before enrolling.

Network flexibility: For those who travel or do not want to be limited to certain providers, look for plans with fewer network restrictions.

Navigating Medicare

Choosing a Medicare plan requires a thorough analysis of your personal healthcare needs, financial situation and the quality of the plans available. Be sure to look beyond the surface and consider the full spectrum of benefits and costs. Taking the time to research and understand each plan’s offerings can make all the difference in obtaining suitable healthcare coverage. Remember, no matter how attractive a plan may appear to be, if it doesn't meet your individual needs, it's not the right plan for you.

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