The Difference Between a Medicare Supplement and Medicare Advantage

The Difference Between Med Supp and MA 740 x 740

If you are brand new to Medicare you will hear a lot of different terms and many times can get confusing so I want to make sure you know the difference between and Medicare Supplement (also known as a Medigap Plan) and Medicare Advantage.

First, you need to understand Medicare Supplements and Medicare Advantage plans are not the same thing.  They work totally different.

There is one major distinction between the two and that is Medicare Supplement plans are secondary insurance plans to Medicare where Medicare Advantage is your primary and only plan.

How Your Bill is Paid When You Visit the Doctor’s Office

When you go to the doctor, specialist, hospital, or any other provider with a Medicare Supplement; your red, white, and blue Medicare card will pay first and some or all of the remaining bill will get paid by your Medicare Supplement.  You can learn more about Medicare Supplements by clicking here.

When you visit the doctor’s office (or any provider) with Medicare Advantage what happens is your provider will bill the insurance company, not Medicare, and you will pay a co-payment (specific dollar amount) or a co-insurance (percentage of the charge).

As you can see, you have two cards to show your doctor when you have a Medigap plan.  1. Your Medicare Card.  2. Your Medicare Supplement card.  With Medicare Advantage you only show one card.

What Providers Can You Use?

It’s very simple.  With a Medicare Supplement you can use any provider, anywhere in the county, so long as they accept Medicare and are willing to take you on as a new patient.  That is not the case with Medicare Advantage.  Typically you must use contracted, in-network doctors, hospitals, and specialists.

How Much Money?

When I explain this to my clients I will explain it like this.  Medicare Supplements cost more per month (most of the time) but cost far less at the doctor’s office.  Medicare Advantage has a lower monthly premium but you pay more at the doctor’s office.  Now as far as a monthly premium is concerned for both Medicare Advantage and Medicare Supplements, they’re all different.  Just call me, I’ll get you the information you need.  

Let’s Talk About Drugs

Medicare Supplements do not come with prescription drug coverage.  You will have to buy a separate, stand-alone prescription drug plan.  However, most often than not, Medicare Advantage includes a prescription drug plan (PDP).


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P.S.  Who do you know that is turning 65, disabled, or has questions about Medicare?  Have them contact me and I will take the time needed to fully explain the options available.

If this helped you understand the difference between a Medicare Supplement and Medicare Advantage please leave me a comment, share, or tweet.  Thank You.