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What’s the difference between Medicare Advantage and Medicare Supplement?
Medicare Advantage combines Medicare Part A and B for comprehensive coverage, all in one plan. It often includes Part D Prescription Drug coverage, too. These are also called Part C plans.
Medicare Supplement insurance policies, also called Medigap, help pay the out-of-pocket expenses not covered by Original Medicare (Part A and B). It is not part of the government’s Medicare program, but provides coverage in addition to it.
Here are the main differences between Medicare Supplement and Medicare Advantage:
|Plan Features||Medicare Advantage (Part C)||Medicare Supplement|
|Medicare Part A Hospital Coverage||Yes||No, but it provides out-of-pocket expense coverage in addition to it1|
|Medicare Part B Medical Coverage||Yes||No, but it provides out-of-pocket expense coverage in addition to it1|
|Medicare Part D Prescription Drug Coverage||Usually included||No, but you can buy separate coverage|
|Out-of-pocket expenses covered (deductibles, copays, coinsurance)||No||Yes—how much coverage you have depends on the policy you choose|
|Other coverage included (vision, dental, hearing)||Yes--most plans include additional coverage.||No, but you can buy separate coverage.|
|Provider network||Yes—your costs are lower when you visit in-network doctors and hospitals. (Some plans may allow you to see doctors and hospitals outside the network, for a higher cost).||No—you can choose any doctor or hospital you’d like that accepts Medicare|
|Free programs and services||Often includes no-cost programs and services not covered by Original Medicare.||Often includes no-cost programs and services2|
|Offered through||Private insurers like Cigna||Private insurers like Cigna3|
|Works with||Part D Prescription Drug coverage, if not included||Original Medicare and Part D Prescription Drug coverage|
Is it better to have Medicare Advantage or Medicare Supplement (Medigap)?
Whether you choose to apply for a Medicare Advantage plan vs. a Medicare Supplement insurance plan depends on your needs. Here are a few factors to consider when deciding whether Medicare Advantage or Medicare Supplement is better for you:
- Do you prefer to have all your coverage rolled into one plan? If so, a Medicare Advantage Plan may be the way to go. Many include Part D drug coverage, as well as vision, dental, and hearing, depending on the plan.
- Do you want financial protection from unexpected out-of-pocket costs, such as deductibles, copays, and coinsurance? If yes, Medicare Supplement plans work with Original Medicare and can help cover some of the remaining out-of-pocket expenses that Original Medicare doesn’t cover.
- Do you need a plan that provides coverage for disabilities or long term care facilities? If so, Medicare Advantage offers Special Needs Plans that provide this type of coverage.
- Do you want the freedom to see any doctors you choose? If so, Medicare Supplement plans have no required network and you can see any doctor that accepts Medicare, even if you’re away from home or traveling. Some Medicare Advantage plans may also allow you to see doctors and hospitals that are not in the plan’s network, giving you additional freedom to choose your doctors.
Can you have a Medicare Advantage plan and a Medicare Supplement plan?
Medicare Advantage and Medicare Supplement are different types of Medicare coverage. You cannot have both at the same time. Medicare Advantage bundles Part A and B often with Part D and other types of coverage. Medicare Supplement is additional coverage you can buy if you have Original Medicare Part A and B.
Can you change from a Medicare Advantage plan to a Medicare Supplement plan?
During the Annual Enrollment Period, which runs from October 15 to December 7 each year, you are free to reconsider your Medicare coverage. If you decide you want to try a Medicare Supplement plan vs. Medicare Advantage plan, you can make that change during this period.4
Considering Medicare Advantage vs. Medicare Supplement? One is not better than the other. They provide different types of coverage. Finding the right fit for you depends on what kind of Medicare coverage you’re seeking, as well as your health care needs. Review all details of plans when shopping and be open to considering alternatives when your needs change.
Where are you in your Medicare journey?
More in Understanding Medicare
1 Original Medicare (Part A and B) coverage is required in order to purchase a Medicare Supplement plan.
2 These programs are NOT insurance and do not provide reimbursement for financial losses. Some restrictions may apply. Programs and services may be added or discontinued at any time. Customers are required to pay the entire discounted charge for any discounted products or services available through these programs. The Healthy Rewards program is provided by Cigna Health and Life Insurance Company. Programs are provided through third party vendors who are solely responsible for their products and services. Program availability may vary by location, and are not available where prohibited by law.
3 Insured 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 Health 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 Virginia, Medicare Supplement insurance policies are insured by Cigna Health and Life Insurance Company. American Retirement Life Insurance Company, Loyal American Life Insurance Company and Cigna National Health Insurance Company plans are not available to residents of Virginia.
4 Medicare Supplement plans may be subject to medical underwriting, and coverage may be denied.
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