Medicare Advantage vs. Original Medicare

Medicare Advantage Means More Options for Your Medicare Coverage

The original Medicare program started some 45 years agoMedicare Advantage plans explained was quite simple. Enrollees aged 65 and older received Part A (Hospital Insurance) and Part B (Medical Insurance), and that was that.

Today, people eligible for Medicare have more choices than ever before. Medicare Advantage allows beneficiaries to receive their benefits from private health plans. Part D adds prescription drug coverage to the mix. And there are 10 different Medicare Supplement (Medigap) plans beneficiaries can choose from to help with out-of-pocket expenses.

Medicare Advantage-One Choice for All Your Medicare Options

Today, original Medicare is just the tip of the iceberg. To get complete coverage, you’ll need to find a Medicare Prescription Drug Plan (PDP), available only from approved private health insurers in your area. If you want additional protection from out-of-pocket expenses like copayments and deductibles, you’ll need to find yet another private health insurer who sells one or more of the 10 Medigap policies that may be available where you live.

Medicare Advantage plans are one way of pulling all your coverage options together with just one insurance company.

All the Benefits of Original Medicare, and More

Medicare Advantage plans can be one of the simplest, most convenient ways for beneficiaries to get coverage. The reasons are simple:

  • Medicare Advantage plans provide all the same coverage as original Medicare’s Parts A & B
  • Medicare Advantage plans typically include Part D, prescription drug coverage, as part of their plans
  • Medicare Advantage plans keep premiums low by using their existing provider networks

A couple of important things to note with Medicare Advantage plans:

  • You must continue to pay your Part B premium in addition to any other premiums, copayments or coinsurance required by your health plan
  • If you have a Medicare Advantage plan, you cannot enroll in a Medigap plan

Choosing Between Medicare Advantage & Original Medicare

Nobody has to enroll in a Medicare Advantage plan. If you, or your spouse, already have good drug coverage through an employer (as part of a pension plan, for example), original Medicare may be just fine.

But for many people, Medicare Advantage can be more convenient, more economical and easier to understand. Consider the following:

  • Most Medicare Advantage plans work just like the HMO, PPO or other managed care plan you may have had when you were working
  • If you have questions about a claim or coverage with Medicare Advantage, there’s just one company to contact
  • Many plans have prescription drug coverage included, so there’s no need to find another insurance carrier
  • All Medicare Advantage plans are approved by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), the agency that administers Medicare
  • You can join, switch or drop a Medicare Advantage plan during the Annual Election Period from October 15 through December 7
  • If you enroll in a Medicare Advantage plan during the Annual Election Period, you may still drop the plan and return to original Medicare anytime between January 1 and February 14 of the following year
  • You may switch from a Medicare Advantage plan to a 5-star rated Medicare Advantage one time during the year

Learn More about Your Options with Medicare Advantage

If you still have questions about Medicare Advantage (Part C), you can learn more about your coverage choices at, understand when you can enroll or disenroll in a plan or get a good overview of Part C in general.

If you prefer, you can contact a Medicare insurance expert at He or she will be happy to help you better understand your options, or find a plan that meets your needs.