Choosing Between a Medicare Advantage Plan or a Supplement Plan


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, 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 Supplement (Medigap) plans and Medicare Advantage plans. Compare these options below to see which one is best for you.

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What is a Supplement (Medigap) plan?

Supplement plans are offered by private insurance carriers. They supplement 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.

What is a Medicare Advantage plan?

Medicare Advantage plans are also offered by private insurance carriers. Medicare Advantage plans provide Part A and B benefits directly 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.

How to Choose Between a Medicare Advantage Plan and a Supplement Plan

Under a Supplement plan, you are still covered under Original Medicare. You may pay higher costs up-front, as well as a separate premium if you need Part D prescription coverage. With a Medicare Advantage plan, you are combining your Medicare Parts A, B, and D into one plan. You will typically have lower up-front costs than with a Supplement plan. Medicare Advantage plans may also offer many extra benefits that you do not have with a Supplement plan, like routine vision, dental, and hearing.

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.

Explore and Compare

  Medicare Advantage Plan Supplement Plan
Insurance Cards 1 card:
  • Your Medicare Advantage plan card.

The red, white, and blue Medicare card can stay in your drawer.
3 cards:
  • Red, white, and blue Medicare card
  • Supplement card
  • Part D (prescription drug) card
Costs Medicare Advantage plans usually have lower monthly premiums.

Costs for doctor visits and other covered medical services can vary widely from plan to plan. Many plans offer an affordable alternative to Supplement plans.
These plans typically have higher monthly premiums, but lower costs for doctor visits and other covered medical services.
Part D Prescription Coverage Included on most plans Not included
Routine Dental Coverage Included on most plans Not included
Routine Hearing Coverage Included on most plans Not included
Routine Vision Allowance Included on most plans Not included
Fitness Facility Membership/Programming Included on most plans Not included
Other additional benefits like the UPMC MyHealth 24/7 Nurse Line Included on most plans Not included

Learn About UPMC for Life Medicare Advantage Plans

UPMC for Life is a Medicare Advantage plan available in your area. Our members have in-network access to community doctors and hospitals. We also know good health mostly happens outside the doctor’s office. That’s why we offer additional benefits and services that give you more than Original Medicare. Learn more here.

Ready to Enroll?

Shop UPMC for Life Medicare Advantage Plans
This information is not a complete description of benefits. Call 1-866-405-8762 (TTY: 711) for more information. Out-of-network/non-contracted providers are under no obligation to treat UPMC for Life members, except in emergency situations. Please call our customer service number or see your Evidence of Coverage for more information, including the cost-sharing that applies to out-of-network services. Other physicians/providers are available in the UPMC for Life network.

This information is available for free in other languages. Please call our customer service number at 1-877-539-3080 (TTY: 711). We are available October 1 through March 31, seven days a week from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. From April 1 through September 30, we are available Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Saturday from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.

UPMC for Life has a contract with Medicare to provide HMO, HMO SNP, and PPO plans. The HMO SNP plan has a contract with the PA State Medical Assistance program. Enrollment in UPMC for Life depends on contract renewal. UPMC for Life is a product of and operated by UPMC Health Plan Inc., UPMC Health Network Inc., UPMC Health Benefits Inc., and UPMC for You Inc.

Tivity Health, SilverSneakers, SilverSneakers FLEX and SilverSneakers BOOM are registered trademarks or trademarks of Tivity Health, Inc. and/or its subsidiaries and/or affiliates in the USA and/or other countries. © 2018. All rights reserved

*Our hours of operation change twice a year.

You can call us:

October 1 through March 31:
seven days a week from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.

April 1 through September 30:
Monday through Friday: 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Saturday: 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.

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Last Updated: 10/01/2018
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