Enrollment Season

It’s Medicare open enrollment season when Medicare-age individuals are targeted with ads for all kinds of Medicare-related products.  One of the most commonly asked questions is “what difference is there between a Medicare Advantage plan and a Medicare Supplement insurance plan?”

In short, a Medicare Advantage plan is offered by a private company that contracts with Medicare to provide you with all your Part A and Part B benefits as well as the additional benefits beyond what original Medicare would pay.  Most Medicare Advantage plans offer prescription drug coverage.  Sometimes, Medicare Advantage plans bundlebenefits into the package that aren’t found in Medicare Supplement insurance plan benefits – things like dental benefits, gym membership discounts, and the like.  Medicare Advantage plans may have smaller physician/hospital networks than those found with Medicare Supplement insurance.  They may require referrals from a primary care physician for specialty care.

Medicare Supplement insurance is different in that original Medicare continues to administer your Part A and Part B benefits. Then, the insurance company pays whatever remainder it promises to pay.  Original Medicare and Medicare Supplement insurance aren’t “bundled” togetheras with Medicare Advantage.  People with original Medicare may go to whatever physicians accept original Medicare.  And if you have original Medicare with Medicare Supplement insurance and you want a prescription drug plan, you must purchase that plan separately.

The Medicare website at Medicare.gov is an excellent source of information on the two different types of plans.

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