Medicare Advantage vs. Original Medicare vs. Medicare Supplemental

There are many choices when it comes to your Medicare plan, and you may not understand all of them at first. That’s okay. This is complicated stuff, and understanding won’t come overnight. What you need to know are some basic details about the types of Medicare plans available to you, and what kinds of basic coverage each plan can provide for you.

Original Medicare

The Original Medicare plan is provided by Medicare, and comes in two parts — Part A and Part B. Part A covers hospital insurance, while Part B is medical insurance. There is a difference between the two! Generally speaking, you will have your choice of doctors, hospitals, and health care providers, as long as they accept Medicare. In most cases, you or your supplemental coverage, if you have it, will pay deductibles and coinsurance. Most Part B coverage requires the payment of a premium.

You also have the option of Part D coverage with Original Medicare, which covers prescription drugs. These plans are run through Medicare-approved private companies, and you will pay a monthly premium.

Medicare Advantage

If you go with a Medicare Advantage plan, you’ll have Part C insurance, which is a combination of Part A and Part B. Medicare-approved private companies offer these plans, however you will have to abide by plan coverage rules. That means that you are restricted to the health care providers listed in your individual plan. A monthly premium is typical, and so are co-pays and coinsurance for covered services. Read your plan carefully for additional details.

Medicare Supplemental

There are gaps in the Original Medicare coverage that you may choose to fill in with the use of Medicare Supplemental, sometimes referred to as Medigap. These policies are purchased through private companies, and costs and details vary by plan. Medigap policies are not available to those who elect Medicare Advantage.

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Medicare Supplemental plans can pay costs over and above Original Medicare's coverage.