Medicare Advantage PFFS Plans: What You Should Know
|What’s a PFFS Plan?||Jump to|
|Pros of a PFFS Plan||Jump to|
|Cons of a PFFS Plan||Jump to|
|Other types of Medicare Advantage Plans||Jump to|
What’s a PFFS Plan?
While researching your Medicare Advantage Plan options, you may see plans designated with the letters “PFFS.” These are Medicare Advantage Private Fee-for-Service (PFFS) Plans and are sold by private insurance companies as an alternative to Original Medicare (Medicare Part A and Part B) offered by the U.S. Government.
PFFS Plans are different from other Medicare Advantage Plans. Your insurance provider determines how much it pays the health care provider for each service and how much you will pay to get care.
Another defining detail for PFFS Plans is the flexibility in who you can see to get your health care.
Medicare Advantage Plans have a “network” of preferred doctors, hospitals and health care providers that accept your health insurance plan which typically charge less for services than if you went to a doctor outside of the plan’s network. Some plans, like Health Maintenance Organization (HMO) Plans, require primary care doctors and referrals from in-network providers to get your services.
While some PFFS Plans have a network, the freedom to keep or choose your own doctor accepting your PFFS Plans makes it a great alternative to more network-restrictive plan types.1
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Pros of a PFFS Plan
Each Medicare Advantage Plan type has its pros and cons. Here are some qualities that make PFFS Plans an attractive option.
No Primary Care Providers or Referrals
As stated above, Medicare Advantage PFFS Plans do not require you to choose a Primary Care Provider (PCP). This also means that you’re not required to get a referral to see a specialist, giving you greater freedom to see the doctors you want for your services.1
Prescription Drug Coverage
Prescription drug coverage may be covered in PFFS Plans. If the plan doesn’t offer drug coverage, you can join a separate Medicare Prescription Drug Plan (PDP).
Medicare Advantage PFFS Plans typically have out-of-pocket maximums, which put a cap on how much you must spend before the plan covers the rest of your health care costs for the rest of the year. Original Medicare doesn’t have an out-of-pocket maximum unless you have supplemental coverage like Medigap.
Cons of a PFFS Plan
Each health care plan is unique and may have less than attractive qualities than other Medicare Advantage Plan types. Some of these negatives may not be an issue, while others are worth considering. It’s all based on your situation.
Not Always Covered
If your plan has a network, make sure your doctor accepts your PFFS Plan. Health care providers can choose whether to accept payment from your PFFS Plan for each health care service you get.
In-network doctors and hospitals will accept your PFFS Plan every time. Out-of-network providers may not treat you or may accept your PFFS Plans payment for one service but not another. The only exception is if you need emergency care.2
Before you get any services, ask your doctor or hospital if they accept your plan’s payment terms.
You may pay more for your health care services if you see a doctor or go to a hospital that accepts your plan’s payment terms but is outside your PFFS Plan’s network.
PFFS Plans may not be available in your area. In 2022, there are only 30 PFFS Plans available in the U.S. compared to 201 plans in 2012.3
Other Types of Medicare Advantage Plans
Medicare Advantage comes in different plan types. There are five different Medicare Advantage Plan types available, including PFFS Plans. Those plans include:
- Health Maintenance Organization (HMO) Plans
- Preferred Provider Organization (PPO) Plans
- Special Needs Plans (SNPs)
- Medicare Medical Savings Account (MSA) Plans
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1 “Private Fee-for-Service (PFFS) Plans,” Medicare.gov, Accessed Feb. 15, 2022.
2 Private Fee-for-Service (PFFS) Plans, Pages 18-19, “Understanding Medicare Advantage Plans,” Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, Accessed Feb. 15, 2022.
3 “Medicare Advantage 2022 Spotlight: First Look,” Kaiser Family Foundation, Accessed Feb. 15, 2022.
Denise Austin, 65, Ensurem Ambassador
Best-Selling Author, Creator of Fit Over 50 Magazine
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