| Wed, Nov 16, 2011 @ 09:00 AM

Medicare Supplement Insurance and Medicare Advantage Plans Don’t Mix

Posted by Medicare Made Clear

Medicare Supplement Insurance can help pay for Original Medicare deductibles, copays, coinsurance and other costs. Medicare Supplement Insurance, also known as Medigap, is designed to be used with Original Medicare. It is private health insurance that you can buy from an insurance company to help pay for some of the out-of-pocket costs that you have with Original Medicare. You must be enrolled in Medicare Part A and Part B and getting your benefits through Original Medicare in order to purchase a Medicare Supplement Insurance plan.

Medicare Advantage is a different way to receive your Medicare benefits. Plans are offered through private insurance companies and are required to provide the same benefits that Original Medicare provides. Many plans offer much more and at less cost.

You can choose to get your Medicare benefits through a Medicare Advantage plan or through Original Medicare. You can switch between them during certain defined enrollment periods, but you can’t have both at the same time.

Medicare Supplement Insurance plans work only with Original Medicare. They don’t work with Medicare Advantage plans.

  • If you have a Medicare Advantage plan, then you do not need Medicare Supplement Insurance because most of the benefits are already included in the plan. It’s illegal for anyone to sell you a Medicare Supplement Insurance plan if they know you already have a Medicare Advantage plan. The only exception is if you are switching from a Medicare Advantage plan to Original Medicare, and your Medicare Advantage plan will end before the Medicare Supplement Insurance plan effective date.
  • If you want to switch to a Medicare Advantage plan from Original Medicare, and you have a Medicare Supplement Insurance plan, then you may want to drop it. You can keep it, if you choose, but it will no longer provide benefits that supplement Medicare, and you will have to continue paying the premium. Your Medicare Supplement plan can’t be used to pay your Medicare Advantage premiums, deductibles and copays.

It’s important to understand that, once you drop a Medicare Supplement Insurance plan, you may not be able to get the same, or maybe any, plan later. Your rights to buy another plan depend on your circumstances and on the laws in the state where you live. You can read Medicare’s Choosing a Medigap Policy to learn more. (There is a separate version of this publication for people who live inWisconsin. Be sure you access the correct version.)

The Medicare Annual Enrollment Period is October 15 through December 7 every year. During this time, you can switch to a Medicare Advantage plan from Original Medicare, or vice versa. Before you do, it’s a good idea to understand how any change you make may affect any other health coverage that you have or want, including Medicare Supplement Insurance.

For more information contact the Medicare helpline 24 hours a day, seven days a week at 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227), TTY 1-877-486-2048. You can also contact UnitedHealthcare® Medicare Made Clear to learn more at 1-877-619-5582, TTY 711, 8 a.m. – 8 p.m. local time, seven days a week.

Resources:

Choosing a Medigap Policy – Medicare.gov

Medicare & You  – Medicare.gov

Y0066_111017_155054 File & Use 10292011