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Choosing a Medicare Plan

Confused by the Medicare coverage options? Find out how to choose a Medicare plan, what the different plans are, and steps to follow when deciding which plan is right for you.

How do you choose a Medicare plan?

To choose a Medicare plan, you first need to understand a bit about Medicare. What types of plans are there? Part A, Part B, Part C, Part D—what do they all mean and how do they work together? And what about Medicare Supplement Insurance (also called Medigap)—is that a type of Medicare coverage, too? 

What are the different types of Medicare plans? 

There are 3 different types of Medicare coverage:

  • Part A and Part B, also called Original Medicare: Part A covers hospital care and Part B covers medical care. Part A and B cover the costs for many inpatient and outpatient medical services, as well as hospice care, some skilled nursing facility care, home health care, and durable medical equipment. Your out-of-pocket expenses can include annual deductibles, coinsurance, and copays.

    Part A and B does not include dental, vision, or prescription coverage.

  • Medicare Advantage: This is also known as Part C. Medicare Advantage plans are offered through private insurers like Cigna.1 They bundle all of Part A and B (hospital and medical care), and usually include Part D prescription drug coverage, too. Many of these plans include dental and vision care.

  • Medicare Supplement Insurance Policies, or Medigap: These plans are also offered through private insurers, like Cigna. Medicare Supplement insurance plans are just that—they supplement or offer additional coverage to help pay some of the costs that Original Medicare doesn’t pay. Medicare Supplement plans come in many different options, from those that cover basic costs to those that offer more extensive coverage for deductibles, as well as copays and coinsurance.

Medicare Supplement plans only work with Original Medicare or standalone Part D Prescription Drug plans. They do not work with Medicare Advantage plans.

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What factors should you consider when choosing a Medicare plan? 

Choosing a Medicare plan means taking a few moments to consider what would best fit your needs and lifestyle. You may want to consider the following factors when comparing Medicare plans:

  • What are your health care needs?
  • Do you see your primary care provider once a year for your annual checkup? Do you also need to see specialists for additional care?
  • Do you expect to be hospitalized for a surgical procedure or need outpatient surgery?
  • Do you take any prescription medications? If so, do you take specialty medications, things like insulin or other injectables, or do you take generic medications?
  • Do you have a chronic condition that puts you at risk for needing more care?
  • Do you have a chronic condition or disability for which you are already receiving Medicaid or disability benefits?
  • Do you need dental care or vision care?
  • Do you want coverage to include access to behavioral health providers such as therapists and counselors?
  • Are you okay seeing a doctor in a network or do you want to have the flexibility to see any doctor?
  • If you travel, do you want coverage wherever you go?

Having the answers to these questions, and others like it, may help guide you when deciding which type of Medicare coverage is right for you.

3 Steps to Choosing a Medicare Plan

This graphic shows the steps you might take when choosing Medicare coverage that’s right for you. It’s a great place to start if you want to compare Medicare plans or need a quick review of Medicare and all its parts.

You’ll see the main features of each Medicare coverage option side-by-side to help you understand how the different parts of Medicare work with each other.

Confused by Medicare terms?

Look it up in the Cigna Glossary

Decide if you want Original Medicare OR Medicare Advantage

OR

Original Medicare

(Part A and Part B)

Part A: Hospital Insurance
Hospital Stays
Skilled Nursing Facilities
Hospice care
Some Home Health Care

You can enroll in Medicare Part A once you turn 65. If you’re already collecting Social Security disability benefits, you'll be automatically enrolled in Part A.

Part B: Medical Insurance
Hospital Stays
Skilled Nursing Facilities
Hospice care
Some Home Health Care

Medicare pays 80 percent of approved charges and you pay about 20 percent. Part B is optional because you have to pay a monthly premium and meet a deductible before Medicare will pay benefits.

Find out more about Original Medicare (Part A and Part B)

Medicare Advantage

(Part C)

Part A: Hospital Part B Medical Part D Prescription
Combines Original Medicare, Part A and Part B, into 1 plan
Often includes Medicare Part D prescription drug coverage
May come with extra programs and services not offered by Original Medicare

These plans are part of the government's Medicare program, but are offered and managed through private insurers, like Cigna, and may offer plan extras not found in Original Medicare. You must be enrolled in Medicare Part A and Part B to join.

Learn more about Medicare Advantage (Part C)

If you choose Original Medicare, decide if you need to add supplemental coverage

Skip this step, if you choose Medicare Advantage—Medicare Supplement doesn’t work with Medicare Advantage Plans (Part C).

Medicare Supplement Insurance

Helps pay some health care costs (copays, coinsurance, and deductibles) that Original Medicare doesn’t cover
Works with Original Medicare (Part A and Part B) and Medicare Part D Prescription Drug Plans, but not Medicare Advantage Plans (Part C)
Offers nationwide coverage without network restrictions2

A Medicare Supplement policy (also known as Medigap) is private health insurance that adds on to Original Medicare. It helps pay about 20 percent of the Medicare expenses that Original Medicare doesn't cover, after the Part B deductible has been met.

Learn more about Medicare Supplement Insurance

Decide if you need to add prescription drug coverage to either Original Medicare or Medicare Advantage

Part D: Prescription Drug Coverage

Helps lower prescription drug costs
All Part D plans must offer at least a standard level of coverage set by Medicare
Some Medicare Advantage Plans come with built-in prescription drug coverage

Part D plans are part of the government’s Medicare program, but they’re offered and managed through approved private insurers, like Cigna. Enrollment in a separate Part D plan is not automatic. You need to select and enroll in a plan.

Find out more about Medicare Part D Prescription Drug Plans

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View state disclosures, exclusions, and limitations

1Insured by Cigna Health and Life Insurance Company, American Retirement Life Insurance Company, Loyal American Life Insurance Company or Cigna National Health Insurance Company. In Kansas and Pennsylvania, Medicare Supplement insurance policies are insured by Cigna National Life Insurance Company. American Retirement Life Insurance Company, Loyal American Life Insurance Company and Cigna Health and Life Insurance Company plans are not available to residents of Kansas or Pennsylvania.

In some cases, a referral is required by Medicare. Choose any doctors who accept Medicare.

View Kansas disclosures, exclusions, and limitations

Notice for persons eligible for Medicare because of disability:

In the following states, all Medicare Supplement plans are available to persons eligible for Medicare because of disability: California, Colorado, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, New Hampshire, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Tennessee, Vermont, and Wisconsin.

Tennessee Medicare Supplement Policy Forms

Plan A: CNHIC-MS-AA-A-TN; Plan F: CNHIC-MS-AA-F-TN; Plan G: CNHIC-MS-AA-G-TN; Plan N: CNHIC-MS-AA-N-TN.

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Medicare Advantage and Medicare Part D Policy Disclaimers

All Cigna products and services are provided exclusively by or through operating subsidiaries of Cigna Corporation. The Cigna name, logos, and other Cigna marks are owned by Cigna Intellectual Property, Inc. Cigna contracts with Medicare to offer Medicare Advantage HMO and PPO plans and Part D Prescription Drug Plans (PDP) in select states, and with select State Medicaid programs. Enrollment in Cigna depends on contract renewal.

Medicare Supplement Policy Disclaimers

Medicare Supplement website content not approved for use in: Oregon.

AN OUTLINE OF COVERAGE IS AVAILABLE UPON REQUEST. We'll provide an outline of coverage to all persons at the time the application is presented.

Our company and agents are not connected with or endorsed by the U.S. Government or the federal Medicare program. This is a solicitation for insurance. An insurance agent may contact you. Premium and benefits vary by plan selected. Plan availability varies by state. Medicare Supplement policies are underwritten by Cigna National Health Insurance Company, Cigna Health and Life Insurance Company, American Retirement Life Insurance Company or Loyal American Life Insurance Company. Each insurer has sole responsibility for its own products.

The following Medicare Supplement Plans are available to persons eligible for Medicare due to disability: Plan A in Arkansas, Connecticut, Indiana, Maryland, Oklahoma, Texas, and Virginia; Plans A, F, and G in North Carolina; and Plans C and D in New Jersey for individuals aged 50-64. Medicare Supplement policies contain exclusions, limitations, and terms under which the policies may be continued in force or discontinued. For costs and complete details of coverage, contact the company.

This website is designed as a marketing aid and is not to be construed as a contract for insurance. It provides a brief description of the important features of the policy. Please refer to the policy for the full terms and conditions of coverage.

American Retirement Life Insurance Company, Cigna National Health Insurance Company and Loyal American Life Insurance Company do not issue policies in New Mexico.

Kansas Disclosures, Exclusions and Limitations

Medicare Supplement Policy Forms: Plan A: CNHIC-MS-AA-A-KS, CNHIC-MS-AO-A-KS; Plan F: CNHIC-MS-AA-F-KS, CNHIC-MS-AO-F-KS; Plan G: CNHIC-MS-AA-G-KS, CNHIC-MS-AO-G-KS; Plan N: CNHIC-MS-AA-N-KS, CNHIC-MS-AO-N-KS

Exclusions and Limitations:

The benefits of this policy will not duplicate any benefits paid by Medicare. The combined benefits of this policy and the benefits paid by Medicare may not exceed one-hundred percent (100%) of the Medicare Eligible Expenses incurred. This policy will not pay benefits for the following:

(1) the Medicare Part B Deductible;

(2) any expense which You are not legally obligated to pay; or services for which no charge is normally made in the absence of insurance;

(3) any services that are not medically necessary as determined by Medicare;

(4) any portion of any expense for which payment is made by Medicare or other government programs (except Medicaid); or for which payment would have been made by Medicare if You were enrolled in Parts A and B of Medicare;

(5) any type of expense not a Medicare Eligible Expense except as provided previously in this policy;

(6) any deductible, Coinsurance or Co-payment not covered by Medicare, unless such coverage is listed as a benefit in this policy; or

(7) Preexisting Conditions: We will not pay for any expenses incurred for care or treatment of a Preexisting Condition for the first six (6) months from the effective date of coverage. This exclusion does not apply if You applied for and were issued this policy under guaranteed issue status; if on the date of application for this policy You had at least six (6) months of prior Creditable Coverage; or, if this policy is replacing another Medicare Supplement policy and a six (6) month waiting period has already been satisfied. Evidence of prior coverage or replacement must have been disclosed on the application for this policy. If You had less than six (6) months prior Creditable Coverage, the Preexisting Conditions limitation will be reduced by the aggregate amount of Creditable Coverage. If this policy is replacing another Medicare Supplement policy, credit will be given for any portion of the waiting period that has been satisfied.

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Y0036_23_788405_M | Page last updated 10/01/2022.