AARP Medicare Supplement vs Medicare Advantage: Understanding the Differences
What is the difference between AARP Medicare Supplement and Medicare Advantage?
When it comes to Medicare, there are different options available for senior citizens. Two popular options are AARP Medicare Supplement plans and Medicare Advantage plans. While both plans aim to help individuals cover their healthcare expenses, they are not the same. In fact, there are considerable differences between the two.
A Brief Overview of Medicare
Before going into the details of each plan, let's quickly review what Medicare is. Medicare is a federal health insurance program for US citizens who are 65 or older, or for those under 65 with certain disabilities. The program is divided into several parts:
- Part A: Covers hospital stays, hospice care, and some home health care
- Part B: Covers medically necessary services, preventive care, and outpatient care
- Part C: Also known as Medicare Advantage, is offered by private insurance companies approved by Medicare and includes Part A, Part B, and often prescription drug coverage
- Part D: Covers prescription drugs
AARP Medicare Supplement Plans
AARP (American Association of Retired Persons) offers Medicare Supplement plans to fill the gaps in traditional Medicare coverage. These plans, also known as Medigap, can cover costs such as deductibles, co-payments, and coinsurance. The plans are standardized, meaning that regardless of which insurance company offers them, the benefits are exactly the same. There are 10 different Medigap plans, each labeled by a letter from A to N. However, not all states offer all plans.
Medicare Advantage Plans
Medicare Advantage plans, also known as Part C, offer an alternative way of receiving Medicare benefits. Instead of having separate Parts A, B, and D coverage, Medicare Advantage combines them into one plan offered by private insurance companies approved by Medicare. Medicare Advantage plans may also offer additional benefits such as vision, dental, and hearing coverage. These plans often have a network of healthcare providers that enrollees must use, and they may also require prior authorization for certain services.
What Are the Differences?
Now that we've covered the basics of each plan, let's explore the differences:
- Cost: Medicare Advantage plans often have lower monthly premiums, but may require co-payments and coinsurance for services. AARP Medicare Supplement plans have higher premiums but generally cover more costs.
- Flexibility: Medicare Advantage plans may have a network of healthcare providers that enrollees must use, while AARP Medicare Supplement plans allow individuals to see any provider that accepts traditional Medicare.
- Additional Benefits: Medicare Advantage plans often offer additional benefits like vision, dental, and hearing coverage. AARP Medicare Supplement plans only cover traditional Medicare costs.
- Prescription Drugs: AARP Medicare Supplement plans do not include prescription drug coverage, while many Medicare Advantage plans do.
In conclusion, both AARP Medicare Supplement plans and Medicare Advantage plans have their own advantages and disadvantages, and it's important to evaluate your individual healthcare needs before choosing a plan. Whether you opt for a Medigap plan to supplement your traditional Medicare benefits or a Medicare Advantage plan that provides additional benefits, remember to compare plans and choose what's best for your situation.