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What Is The Difference Between Medicare Supplement And Medicare Advantage Plans?

Updated: Feb 8


While Medicare is a great health insurance plan, it doesn’t cover everything at the lowest cost possible for most people. Many will choose to enroll in a private health insurance plan that is approved by Medicare to help provide their services. These plans are called Medicare Advantage and Medicare Supplements. In either case, you still have Medicare and will continue to pay your Part B Medicare premium directly to Medicare.


A Medicare Supplement plan, sometimes called a Medigap plan, is coverage you add on in addition to Original Medicare. A supplement will work alongside Original Medicare to provide additional benefits. This plan literally “fills in the gaps” in Medicare. Prescription drug coverage is usually not included.


Medicare Advantage (Part C) plans are a different way of accessing your Medicare benefits. While you are still enrolled in Original Medicare, the Advantage plan will take over and provide improved benefits. Some Advantage Plans are HMOs which require you to have a primary care doctor in charge of your health decisions. Others are PPO’s or other types that are all just fancy terms or telling you how you can access doctors and benefits. Prescription drug coverage is often included in this plan.


One of the biggest differences between Advantage and Supplement plans is your access to healthcare providers. Advantage plans keep costs down by working with a network of doctors and hospitals that you must choose from. Costs are also controlled by having your primary care doctor help you decide if and when to see a specialist using a referral system. In a supplement plan, you can see any doctor you want as long as they accept medicare patients.


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