How Does Medicare Supplement Insurance Work with Original Medicare (Part A and B)?

How Does Medicare Supplement Insurance Work with Original Medicare

If you’re starting your search for the right Medicare coverage or are looking to switch your plans, it’s a good idea to know what options are available to you. While Original Medicare (Part A and Part B) is government-provided, there are plans you can add to that coverage. If you’re looking to get affordable coverage for the health care services you need, Medicare Supplement Insurance may be a good option for you. These plans can be added to Original Medicare (Part A and Part B) to provide extra coverage and benefits.

So how does Original Medicare work with a Medicare Supplement Insurance plan?

Quick Facts about the Different Medicare Parts

First, there are a few facts you should know about the different Medicare parts:1

  1. Original Medicare (Part A and Part B) is a federal health insurance program with the purpose of providing health care for:
    • People age 65 and older
    • Certain younger people with disabilities
    • People with End-Stage Renal Disease.
  2. Medicare is made up of parts A, B, C, D and Medicare Supplement.
  3. Original Medicare covers Parts A and B, which are hospital insurance and medical insurance. It doesn’t cover costs like copayments, coinsurance and deductibles.
  4. Medicare Part C is also known as Medicare Advantage. It provides extra health care benefits that Original Medicare doesn’t. Plus, it often includes Medicare Part D.
  5. Medicare Part D is also known as a Prescription Drug Plan, and can be added to an Original Medicare or a Medicare Supplement Plan if you need it. Both Part C and Part D are offered by private insurance companies.
  6. Medicare Supplement is provided by private insurance companies. It offers help with paying out-of-pocket costs that Original Medicare may leave you with.
  7. You can’t be in both a Medicare Supplement plan and a Medicare Advantage plan at the same time.

For some individuals, Original Medicare may meet all of their health care needs. However, it’s good to be familiar with the other plans available.

Medicare Supplement Insurance Plans

As mentioned, Medicare Supplement Insurance plans are provided by private insurance companies. These plans are designed to help pay some of the health care costs that Original Medicare may leave you with. This includes expenses like copayments, coinsurance and deductibles. It can also help cover you in ways that Original Medicare doesn’t – like providing you with some health care coverage if you travel overseas.

There are 10 standardized plans to choose from. These range from Medicare Supplement Plans A – N. All of these plans are offered nationwide, unless you live in Wisconsin, Massachusetts or Minnesota (which have their own Medicare Supplement plans). But, it’s important to note that while there are Medicare Supplement plans that sound like Medicare parts, they’re different. For example, Medicare Supplement Plan A is different from Medicare Part A (the first part of Original Medicare).

If you’re eligible for Medicare, you may also be eligible for a Medicare Supplement plan. However, unlike Original Medicare, you’re not automatically enrolled in Medicare Supplement when you turn 65. You can apply for Medicare Supplement plans year-round. But it’s usually best to do so during your initial enrollment period so that your application won’t be subject to underwriting.

How Medicare Supplement Insurance Works with Original Medicare

To understand how Medicare Supplement works with Original Medicare, we’re going to follow the story of Cindy.

Cindy is 65, recently retired and has Original Medicare. Cindy exercises by swimming at her local YMCA and loves to host events for family and friends. She has always been healthy and needs little health care outside of the routine checkup appointment. But recently, she slipped while walking around the pool, and her hip has been bothering her since. She’s had to cut back on some of the activities that make up her typically full schedule and hasn’t been able to host any guests for a while. Cindy’s injury has reminded her that her body isn’t able to bounce back like it once did. As a 65-year-old woman, she’s beginning to wonder if she needs extra health insurance.

Cindy found gaps in her Medicare coverage when she went to see an orthopedic specialist for her hip. She was left with the full cost of the expensive appointment because the coinsurance wasn’t covered.

Cindy realized that the costs of her hip-related expenses started adding up. After speaking to her doctor, she also anticipated the possibility of needing hip replacement surgery in a few years. Cindy knew that her current health plan wouldn’t cover such a major cost. She started looking into a Medicare Supplement plan. She realized that Medicare Supplement is designed to help cover the costs that Original Medicare doesn’t.

With her new knowledge in hand, Cindy started on the journey of choosing a Medicare Supplement plan. The next step was to decide which private company to go with for her Medicare Supplement plan. She compared and contrasted the plan types and found the one right for her. With her new coverage, she’s been able to see her orthopedic doctor more regularly and is on track to a full recovery.

Choosing the Right Medicare Plan for You

Like Cindy, only you can decide which plan fits your specific health care needs. Along with Medicare Supplement, there are a few other pieces to the Medicare puzzle. Learn more about the different Medicare plans available and see which options are right for you.

1 Web page: How Original Medicare Works. 01/26/2023,