Medicare Advantage plans (Part C) are an alternative to Original Medicare. If you enroll in a Medicare Advantage plan, you’re still in the Medicare program. However, you’ll get your Medicare benefits through your Medicare Advantage plan, instead of through Original Medicare. Medicare Advantage plans must provide the same level of coverage as Original Medicare, with the exception of hospice care (which is covered by Part A). Medicare Advantage plans also may provide coverage that Original Medicare doesn’t, such as routine vision and/or dental, health wellness programs, and a prescription drug plan. You will receive one card that you use for all hospital, doctor visits and prescription drugs.
Medicare Supplement (Medigap) plans work with Original Medicare, Part A and Part B, and help pay for certain costs that Original Medicare doesn’t cover. These plans don’t provide stand-alone coverage; you need to remain enrolled in Part A and Part B for your hospital and medical coverage. If you need prescription drug coverage, you have to buy a Medicare Prescription Drug Plan, not a Medicare Supplement plan. When you buy a Medicare Supplement plan, you are still enrolled in Original Medicare, Part A and Part B. Medicare pays for your health-care bills primarily, while the Supplemental plan pays certain cost-sharing expenses required by Medicare, such as copayments or deductibles. Keep in mind that Medicare Supplement plans can only be used to pay for Original Medicare costs; they can’t be used with Medicare Advantage plans.