Medicare Supplement Vs. Medicare Advantage Prescription Drug Plans

Medicare Supplement and Medicare Advantage Prescription Drug Plans are not the same.

Original Medicare

• Original Medicare includes Medicare Part A (Hospital Insurance) and Part B (Medical Insurance).

• If you want drug coverage, you can join a separate Part D plan.

• To help pay your out-of-pocket costs in Original Medicare (like your 20% coinsurance), you can also shop for and buy supplemental coverage.

• You can use any doctor or hospital that takes Medicare, anywhere in the U.S

Medicare Advantage

(also known as Part C)

• Medicare Advantage is an “all in one” alternative to Original Medicare. These “bundled” plans include Part A, Part B, and usually Part D.

• Plans may have lower out-of- pocket costs than Original Medicare.

• In most cases, you’ll need to use doctors who are in the plan’s network.

• Most plans offer extra benefits that Original Medicare doesn’t cover — like vision, hearing, dental, and more.

How Medicare Advantage plans work

Medicare Advantage (MA) plans (also known as Medicare Part C) combine doctor, hospital and, in many cases, even drug coverage into one plan. Most MA plans also include coverage for routine dental, vision and hearing care, as well as other services. These plans are offered by private insurers who contract with the federal government. They are required by law to provide—at minimum—all the benefits of Original Medicare, with the exception of hospice care.

While you can’t add a Medicare Supplement plan to a Medicare Advantage plan, the added benefits MA plans provide help make up the difference when it comes to out-of-pocket costs. One great feature is the security of an annual limit on out-of-pocket costs, after which you pay nothing for covered services.

Medicare Advantage is growing in popularity

The trend is undeniable. Between 2008 and 2018, Medicare Advantage enrollment grew from 9.7 million, or 22% of all Medicare beneficiaries, to nearly 20.4 million, or 34% of Medicare beneficiaries.1

By 2028, more than 41% of Medicare members are expected to choose Medicare Advantage plans.2

*Costs for Medicare Supplement plans vary by the state you live in and the plan you choose. Medicare Supplement plans can only be paired with Original Medicare.


  1. “A Dozen Facts About Medicare Advantage,” Gretchen Jacobson, Anthony Damico, and Tricia Neuman, Kaiser Family Foundation, last accessed June 2019,, opens new window
  2. “4 in 10 Medicare beneficiaries expected to be on Medicare Advantage plans by 2028,” Eli Richman, last accessed June 2019,


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