The difference between Medicare Supplements and Medicare Advantage

Medicare Advantage provides you with a simple alternative to your Medicare coverage.

Smiling grandmother reading novel to granddaughter sitting on wooden bench at garden

When it comes time to enroll in Medicare, you have the option of choosing Original Medicare with supplemental insurance or Medicare Advantage, which bundles all your coverage together. 

Here’s what you should know as you decide what’s best for you.

Original Medicare + Medicare Supplement

While Medicare provides basic coverage for hospital and medical costs, it often doesn’t include all the benefits you may need. For example, Medicare doesn’t cover copayments or prescription drugs. Medicare Supplemental insurance plans help fill policy gaps and minimize your financial liability by helping to pay the costs not covered by Medicare.

While the federal government standardizes what each supplement covers, Medicare Supplement insurance is sold and serviced by private firms — which means cost and quality can vary. BCBSND offers Medicare Supplement plans A, G, L and N.

Explore the variety of BCBSND Medicare Supplemental insurance plans and prescription drug plans.

Medicare Advantage

If you want a bundled approach to Medicare, you can receive all your coverage together into one plan called Medicare Advantage. Some Medicare Advantage plans even come with prescription drug coverage, dental, vision and other supplementary benefits. 

Medicare Advantage, also called Medicare Part C, is a single plan that combines your Medicare Parts A and B, and sometimes also your Part D prescription drug coverage and supplemental insurance benefits. It is created when a private company takes over the administration of your Original Medicare Parts A and B.

Unlike Medicare Supplements, the benefits within Medicare Advantage plans are not regulated and can vary widely. Some may leave you responsible for most of your out-of-pocket costs.

Other Medicare Advantage plans will cover some of the gaps in your Medicare Parts A and B. That coverage ranges from prescription drugs to vision to wellness programs and more.

When considering Medicare Advantage plans, it’s important to read and compare carefully. Know exactly which benefits are included in your plan, and which expenses you’ll pay out of pocket.

BCBSND does not currently offer any Medicare Advantage plans but we are always considering how we can better serve our members.

As always, you can work with a licensed independent agent to get expert answers and to walk you through your options. Just contact our Medicare Solutions specialists online or call 800-280-2583.