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Because Medicare Part A and Part B provide inadequate medical coverage -- you
should probably purchase additional insurance.
Your choices for Medicare supplemental insurance involve two different kinds of
- Medicare Advantage (formerly known as Medicare Part C)
Both types of coverage offer additional insurance. You can choose the plan that
is best suited to your needs. These policies will help cover costs not paid by
Medicare Part A and Part B such as deductibles, co-payments and coinsurance. If
you choose a more comprehensive Medicare Advantage or Medigap plan -- you will
get some coverage for prescription drugs, vision and/or dental.
The best Medicare supplement insurance provides coverage specific to your needs
at an affordable price. In addition, the good news is that there is a big
variety of Medicare supplements for individuals from many different providers of
Medicare supplement insurance.
Medicare Advantage (formerly known as Medicare Part C or Medicare+Choice)
Medicare Advantage is privately sold insurance that is government subsidized and
meant to supplement the benefits of Medicare Part A and B. In fact, you must be
enrolled in both Medicare Part A and Part B to purchase Medicare Advantage
Costs of these plans will vary greatly because it is the individual company
which determines the fees -- not the government. However, all plans will require
that you be enrolled in both Medicare Part A and Medicare Part B and that you
pay your Medicare Part B premiums.
Coverage Options and Dependencies For Medicare Advantage
Medicare Advantage plans vary greatly. Your choices will depend on where you
live, but some of the variables include:
- Most plans are managed-care plans (HMOs) though fee-for-service plans are
available in some areas
- Some plans -- but not all -- will provide supplemental prescription drug
- Some plans -- but not all -- will provide supplemental vision care
- Some plans -- but not all -- will provide supplemental dental care
More options can be found in a Medicare Advantage plan than in a Medigap plan.
However, unlike Medigap insurance policies, Medicare Advantage policies are not
standardized -- making comparison of plans difficult and time consuming.
Your other option for supplementing the benefits of Medicare Part A and B is a
MediGap insurance policy.
Coverage Options and Dependencies for Medigap Insurance
Medigap insurance policies are standardized and you have 10 levels of coverage
to choose among. Medigap Plan A provides the least amount of coverage while
MediGap Plan J provides the most coverage -- with a range of options in between.
(However, it is important to note that beginning in January 2006, Plans H, I,
and J will no longer be available to new enrollees.)
Medigap insurance plans and their costs will vary depending on where you live.
Again, only those already enrolled in Medicare Part A and Medicare Part B can
purchase a Medigap or Medicare Advantage policy. Anyone over 65 should sign on
during the six-month open enrollment period immediately following your
enrollment in Medicare Part B.