Original Medicare Parts A and B provide important health care coverage, but they don’t cover everything. Original Medicare does not cover most prescription drugs, dental care, or vision care; or include travel benefits. And, with Original Medicare, you have to pay deductibles and copays for your care with no annual limit on your out-of-pocket costs.
That’s why most people choose additional Medicare coverage to help fill these gaps. The two most common forms of Medicare coverage are Medicare Advantage plans (Part C) and Supplement plans (Medigap). Compare these options below to see which one is best for you.
Supplement vs. Medicare Advantage plans
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Supplement plans are offered by private insurance carriers. They enhance Original Medicare by paying all or most of the Part A and B out-of-pocket costs that Original Medicare does not cover. Supplement plans do not cover most prescription drug costs. You’ll need to enroll in a separate Part D plan. With a Supplement plan, you can see any doctor that accepts Medicare.
Medicare Advantage plans are also offered by private insurance carriers and are sometimes called "Part C". Medicare Advantage plans provide Part A and B benefits in place of Original Medicare. Most also include Part D prescription drug coverage. Medicare Advantage plans generally have a network of doctors and hospitals that you use to receive care. It’s important to make sure your doctor participates in the plan’s network before joining a plan.
Both Medigap and Medicare Advantage help cover additional costs that are not covered by Medicare, but there are key differences to consider. If you are trying to decide between a Medicare supplement (Medigap) plan and Medicare Advantage Plan (Part C), you should consider these questions:
- Would you like to have added benefits such as routine vision, dental, and hearing at no extra costs?
- Would you rather buy a separate prescription drug plan or get drug coverage included in your plan?
- Would you rather pay more in monthly premiums and have lower out-of-pocket costs for services you receive or pay a low or $0 monthly premium and copays for services as you use them?
When deciding between a Medicare Advantage plan and a Supplement plan, there are many factors to consider. Think about the cost of your monthly premium, what services or benefits are covered, and your health needs to decide what will work best for you.