Medicare Supplement Insurance (also called Medigap) are private plans sold by insurance companies to work alongside your Original Medicare coverage to help cover out-of-pocket costs.
Medicare Advantage plans (also called Medicare Part C) are also sold by private insurance companies, but they are used as an alternative your Original Medicare coverage.
5 Facts About Medicare Supplement Insurance
Original Medicare (Medicare Part A and Part B) provides insurance coverage for a number of health care costs. Medicare Part A and Part B cover in-hospital care and doctors visits, treatment services, medical devices and supplies from Medicare approved providers.
If you want to get the most out of your coverage, Medigap insurance can help you with the out-of-pocket costs that come with Original Medicare, such as deductibles, copays and coinsurance.
1. Medigap is not Medicare Advantage.
Medigap plans supplement Original Medicare benefits and can be used to help pay some of your out-of-pocket costs that come from Medicare-approved health care. Again, Medigap is another name for Medicare Supplement Insurance, so there is no difference between Medigap vs. Medicare Supplement Insurance plans.
Medicare Advantage plans are an alternative to Original Medicare. With a Medicare Advantage plan, you receive your Medicare benefits from your private health plan instead of through the government.
The insurance company providing the plan may provide additional benefits — such as prescription drug coverage, dental coverage and vision coverage — but will be required to at least provide the basic benefits that Original Medicare offers. Prices and additional benefits will vary by provider.
Unlike Original Medicare, coverage may be provided via a specific network of doctors and hospitals. Depending on the policy, out-of-network services may be more expensive or not covered at all.
You cannot have Medicare Advantage and Medigap at the same time. Medigap policies do not work with Medicare Advantage plans.
2. There are 10 standardized Medigap options
You can compare the basic benefits of each type of Medigap plan to find the one that works for your situation. Not every insurance company is required to offer each of the 10 standardized plans. However, the basic benefits for each Medigap plan are standardized by Medicare.
Compare the basic benefits of each type of Medigap plan below.
3. Your open enrollment period is the best time to purchase a Medigap plan
During your Medigap open enrollment period, Medicare Supplement Insurance plans are offered without medical underwriting. That means insurers cannot deny you coverage or charge more for your Medigap plan based on your medical history or current conditions.
Your Medigap open enrollment period begins as soon as you are at least 65 years old and enrolled in Medicare Part B. This period only lasts for six months.
4. Medigap plans do not cover prescription drugs
Prescription drugs are covered under Medicare Part D but are not covered by Medicare Supplement Insurance plans. At one time there were Medigap plans to supplement prescription drug costs, but they are no longer available. You can by a standalone Prescription Drug Plan to help pay for your medications.
Many Medicare Advantage plans offer prescription drug coverage.
5. Medigap plans have the same benefits but not the same rates
Benefits for each type of Medigap plan are standardized — in other words, no matter where you purchase your plan, the coverage is exactly the same.
When you're deciding on a Medicare Supplement Insurance plan, work with a licensed agent who can help you find the right Medigap plan for your health care needs.