Before choosing a plan we want to be sure you know the difference between your many options, in particular how Medicare Supplement Insurance Plans and Medicare Advantage Plans differ. Many people sign up for Advantage Plans thinking they are Supplements, they are not.
A Medicare Supplement Insurance Plan is used with original Medicare. Any caregiver that accepts Medicare will take a Supplement because they only need to bill Medicare. Medicare pays their part (generally 80% of Medicare covered benefits) and sends the remainder of the bill to the Supplement which pays their part (generally 20%). It is important to note that Supplements do NOT include Prescription Drug Coverage (Part D) and for those that do not get a PDP (Prescription Drug Plan) when first eligible, there will be a penalty when they do get a PDP. (There are exceptions to this.) A Medicare Supplement does not change year to year (although the cost does generally go up, the coverage does not change).
A Medicare Advantage plan works differently than a Supplement. With a Medicare Advantage Plan, a private company TAKES OVER for Medicare Part A (Hospital Insurance) and Medicare Part B (Medical Insurance). You remain in the Medicare system but Medicare is no longer responsible for your bills. These plans follow the same type of module as many group plans such as HMO or PPO. With this type of plan it is important to remember several things.
Also, not all Plan D’s are the same. Although they are required to be at least as good as the Medicare model they can vary greatly in costs, copays and specific drugs that are covered. It is important to check which one suits you and continue to check each year because they (like Advantage Plans) do change every year.
Because these plans vary even from county to county, we strongly recommend that you talk to an independent insurance agent to help you choose the one that best suits your needs.