Medicare Advantage vs. Medicare Supplement Insurance Policies – Which is Right for You?
Did you know that after you enroll in Medicare, there’s a few more steps to take? You still need to decide how you want to receive your Medicare benefits and whether you want to pay for additional coverage. Medicare (Part A and Part B) is where many people start, but this plan can leave you with out-of-pocket expenses. Part A and B were only designed to cover 80 percent of your medical costs. Plans like Medicare Advantage and Medicare Supplement can provide you with added benefits or coverage.
So, what’s the difference between a Medicare Advantage plan and a Medicare Supplement plan? Well, it’s actually quite simple!
Medicare Advantage Plans
Also known as Medicare Part C, Medicare Advantage plans are available from private insurance companies approved by Medicare. The insurance companies cover all the benefits of Part A and Part B. And, you can get added benefits like dental, vision and/or prescription drug coverage with certain plans.
Things to keep in mind:
- Joining a Medicare Advantage plan does not stop you from paying your Part B premium. You must pay your Part B premium in addition to your Medicare Advantage premium. In some cases, you can find a $0 Medicare Advantage plan. This means you still pay your Part B premium, but that cost is transferred to the insurance company instead of an additional premium.
- People with end-stage renal disease (ESRD) may not be able to qualify for a Medicare Advantage plan.
Medicare Supplement Plans
Medicare Supplement plans can help take care of certain health care costs not covered by Medicare. This plan is added to your Part A and Part B coverage and typically covers costs like deductibles, copays and premiums. There are 10 different plans in 47 states (Massachusetts, Minnesota and Wisconsin have their own plans). Each plan is represented by a letter and offers different benefits,1 though each letter is the same across insurance companies (e.g., all Plan N benefits are the same). But plan prices can vary with one company compared to another.
Things to keep in mind:
- Medicare Supplement plans do not cover services not offered by Medicare, like dental care or eye glasses.
- These plans do not provide prescription drug coverage. This means you will have to enroll in an independent Medicare Prescription Drug Plan (Part D) for medication coverage.
Which One is Right for You?
When weighing which plan is right for you, there are many different factors to consider:
- How big is the deductible?
- How much is the monthly premium?
- What health care and hospital services you use often and how much will they cost?
- What kind of restrictions will you have on doctors, hospitals and pharmacies? (i.e., Does your preferred doctor accept the plan you want?)
- What is the expected cost of prescription drugs that you need regularly?
- What’s the most you feel comfortable paying out of pocket at one time?
- How much do you want your copay amount to be for certain visits?
There are also helpful tools where you can answer a few simple questions based on your specific needs to get a personalized Medicare recommendation.
Every person’s needs are different, so it’s important to think about individual needs when choosing a plan. But no matter which path you choose, you’re making an excellent choice by helping protect what matters most – your health!
1 Medicare.com (June 30, 2017). Web page: Medicare Advantage vs. Medicare Supplement: How to Choose. Retrieved April 2, 2018, from https://medicare.com/medicare-advantage/medicare-advantage-vs-medicare-supplement-how-to-choose/.
Not connected with or endorsed by the U.S. Government or the federal Medicare program. In some states, plans may be available to persons under age 65 who are eligible for Medicare by reason of disability or End-State Renal Disease.