Original Medicare is a fee-for-service plan that covers hospital and medical expenses. After paying a deductible, Medicare pays its share of the Medicare-approved amount and you pay your share (coinsurance and deductibles). This plan does not cover prescription drugs, so you may need to purchase a separate prescription drug plan.
Medicare Advantage plans are offered by private companies approved by Medicare. These plans provide all the benefits of Original Medicare (Part A and Part B) and most plans also cover prescription drugs (Part D). In addition, each Medicare Advantage plan offers additional benefits, which, while varying by plan and provider, may include coverage for dental, vision, hearing, fitness programs, trips to doctor's appointments, and more.
Medicare supplement insurance plans, also known as Medigap plans, help pay for some of the out-of-pocket costs not paid by Original Medicare (Part A and Part B). These plans are offered by private insurance companies and are designed to supplement Original Medicare.
Special needs plans are Medicare Advantage plans designed for specific needs that include prescription drug coverage. There are four types of special needs plans, including dual special needs plans for people with Medicare and Medicaid.
When deciding between Original Medicare and a Medicare Advantage plan, it is important to consider which healthcare providers you can see, what type of coverage you need, and what additional benefits you may want. You don't need to be an AARP member to enroll in a Medicare Advantage plan or Medicare prescription drug plan. Regardless of which option you decide is right for you, you can switch from Original Medicare to Medicare Advantage or vice versa.