Most people, at hearing these two terms, believe that they are very similar or the same thing even. The fact is, they´re not. Not even close. The only thing that these two have in common is that they are offered by private insurance companies. Understanding what a Medicare Supplement Plan is for rather than Medicare Advantage, will be crucial when deciding on which health care insurance to choose from.
The difference between the two
A Medicare supplement plan is an addition to a prior, original Medicare Part A or Part B. Whichever of these parts you choose, getting a supplement plan will only be an addition to these. You cannot have a supplement plan without enrolling to a Medicare original part first. What a supplement plan does, is it covers for (some) expenses that the original Medicare Part doesn´t. Which costs are covered by it all depends on the plan you end up choosing. The premium for it needs to be paid additionally to the premium you already pay for Medicare part A or B. How much this premium will be, really depends on the plan option you choose as well as the company you´re enrolling to. Different health insurance companies can and almost always do have different rates, so once you´ve decided on a plan it is smart to compare the price of it at several different companies, to make sure that you´re getting the best one available.
A Medicare Advantage is a plan that can work on its own, you won´t need a Medicare Part A or B in addition to it. This doesn’t mean right away that you´re out of Medicare Part A or B obligations and expenses. In fact, what Medicare Advantage offers is already what´s included in a Part A or Part B plan, the difference is that it comes with additional benefits.
When unsure whether to get a supplement plan or a Medicare Advantage, it is important to compare both and what expenses they cover. Based on your own individual situation will you be able to find out which makes more sense to you. It is important to know, that once you´ve chosen Medicare Advantage, you cannot enroll to a supplement plan to. It is either one or the other.
One major advantage that Medicare supplement plan offers and why it is favored by many is that it gives you the freedom to choose any hospital or doctor who accepts Medicare and that you can go to a specialist without referral. Members of Medical Advantage might need referrals and can only visit doctors that are in the plan network.
One big benefit that Medical Advantage has over the Medicare supplement plan is that it covers for prescription drugs. There are 10 supplement plans available and not one of them covers for prescription medication. These would need to be paid out of one´s pocket or the patient would need to get an extra Medicare Part, such as Part D.