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What is the difference between Medicare Supplements and Medicare Advantage?

Medicare supplement plans, also known as Medigap plans, are private insurance plans that can be purchased to supplement Original Medicare (Part A and Part B). These plans are designed to help cover the out-of-pocket costs that Original Medicare doesn't cover, such as deductibles, copayments, and coinsurance.


There are 10 standardized Medigap plans available, each offering a different level of coverage. For example, some plans may cover all of the out-of-pocket costs for hospital stays, while others may only cover a portion of these costs. Beneficiaries can choose the plan that best meets their needs and budget.

One advantage of Medigap plans is that they allow beneficiaries to see any provider who accepts Medicare, without having to worry about networks or referral requirements. This can provide more flexibility and choice in terms of the health care providers and services beneficiaries can access.

Another advantage is that Medigap plans can help protect beneficiaries from unexpected medical expenses, such as high deductibles or copayments. This can provide peace of mind and financial protection for beneficiaries.


On the other hand, one disadvantage of Medigap plans is that they typically have higher premiums than Medicare Advantage plans. This can make them less affordable for some beneficiaries. Additionally, Medigap plans don't cover prescription drugs, so beneficiaries would need to enroll in a separate Part D plan to get coverage for their medications. This can add to the overall cost of their health care.




In contrast, Medicare Advantage plans are an alternative to Original Medicare. These plans are offered by private insurance companies and typically include Part A, Part B, and often Part D (prescription drug coverage) in one plan. Some Medicare Advantage plans may also offer additional benefits, such as vision, hearing, and dental coverage.


One advantage of Medicare Advantage plans is that they often have lower premiums than Medigap plans. This can make them more affordable for some beneficiaries. Another advantage is that many Medicare Advantage plans include prescription drug coverage, so beneficiaries don't have to enroll in a separate Part D plan. This can make their health care coverage more convenient and streamlined. However, one disadvantage of Medicare Advantage plans is that they typically have more limited networks of providers than Original Medicare. This means that beneficiaries may have to see providers who are in-network in order to get coverage for their care.

Additionally, Medicare Advantage plans may have referral requirements, which means that beneficiaries may need to get a referral from their primary care provider in order to see a specialist. This can add to the complexity of their health care coverage.


Overall, both Medigap plans and Medicare Advantage plans have their advantages and disadvantages. It's important for beneficiaries to carefully consider their health care needs and financial situation when deciding which type of plan is best for them.