Medicare Supplements vs. Medicare Advantage

Medicare Supplements and Medicare Advantage are both excellent choices for your health insurance coverage, and while you have to be enrolled in Original Medicare to even enroll in one or the other, there are still some notable differences between the two that you need to understand in choosing your Medicare plans—to help you down the right track, here is everything you need to know about these two policies.

Medicare Supplements

There are 10 different supplement plans for you to choose from—A, B, C, D, F, G, K, L, M, and N. Each of these come at a different price with different coverage depending on the provider you purchase from.

These plans can be purchased alongside Original Medicare (Parts A and B) to literally “supplement” the costs not covered under that plan alone. Plan A, the least expensive, smallest option, covers:

  • Part A coinsurance and hospital costs
  • Part B coinsurance or copayments
  • Your first 3 pints of blood for transfusions
  • Part A hospice care coinsurance or copayment

While this is a considerable amount of coverage, it is still the least substantial option. Plan F, on the other hand, covers all of these costs, as well as:

  • Skilled nursing care facility coinsurance
  • Part A and B deductibles
  • Part B excess charges
  • 80% of foreign travel emergency care

All of the supplement plans will offer some variation of these benefits, meaning that you have plenty of options to choose which is best for you. However, do keep in mind that in order to enroll in Plans C or F, you must have been eligible for Medicare before January 1, 2020.

Medicare Advantage

Medicare Advantage (Part C) technically “replaces” your Original Medicare plan rather than “supplementing” it. All Part C plans will cover all of the benefits of Original Medicare, as well as some extras. There are 5 types of Advantage plans:
• Health Maintenance Organization (HMO)

  • Preferred Provider Organization (PPO)
  • Private Fee-For-Service (PFFS)
  • Medical Savings Account (MSA)
  • Special Needs Plan (SNP)

All of these plans provide access to a network of healthcare providers at a reduced cost than they would otherwise be on their own. With this coordination, you have a plan that provides all the same coverage as Original Medicare, but at an overall lower cost. These plans also offer Part D coverage, as well as limited dental, vision, and hearing.

Difference #1: Coverage

As you probably noticed, these plans are very different in terms of coverage. Supplements cover specific benefits, while Medicare Advantage is geared more towards reducing pre-existing costs of Original Medicare. Both provide great coverage, just with very different ways of doing it.

Difference #2: Medicare Part D

With Part C, Medicare Part D will more than likely already be included in your policy. If not, you can only purchase it if you have a PFFS plan (while most people have HMO or PPO). With a supplement, no prescription drug coverage is included, and you are unable to add it.

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