Compare Medicare Options

Medicare Supplements vs. Medicare Advantage

What’s the difference?

The original version of Medicare is a U.S. government benefit for three groups of people:  seniors aged 65 and older, people with certain disabilities and individuals with end stage renal disease. Original Medicare includes:

Part A—partial coverage for hospital, nursing home, hospice, home care

Part B—partial coverage for doctor visits, surgery, lab tests, medical equipment, preventive exams

Medicare doesn’t cover all costs, so many beneficiaries supplement their original Medicare coverage with a Medicare Supplement or replace it with Medicare Advantage. Below are the basic differences in those two types of plans:

Medicare Supplement Medicare Advantage

How it relates to Original Medicare Parts A & B

Available after you enroll in Medicare Parts A & B, supplements can help pay out-of-pocket costs. Supplements are standardized across the nation Coverage from a private company that bundles everything into one plan--Parts A & B, plus additional health-related coverage and benefits

Plan Design

Plans are same across all companies (standardized nationally by the government) Other than Medicare A & B, what's included in a plan is up to the discretion of the insurer

Premium cost

Varies by age, health history Varies from plan to plan and from year to year but does not change because of age or number of claims

Out-of-pocket costs at time of care

Varies by company--typically low to none Varies by plan, but typically higher than with supplements

Choice of doctors/hospitals

Any that participate in Medicare Varies from plan to plan

Pre-existing conditions

No exclusions No exclusions

Rx coverage

None—must buy a part D plan Most include drug coverage--exact coverage varies from plan to plan

Routine dental, vision
and hearing coverage

None Often included

Cards in your wallet
(# of plans to manage)

Three cards
1. Medicare card
2. Part D card
3. Supplement plan card
One card


Guaranteed renewal Renewal at the discretion of the company

Get more details.