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Medicare Advantage vs. Medigap - What's the difference?

Besides being the textbook definition of senior citizenry, turning 65 years old comes with something that everyone is entitled to: Medicare eligibility. For nearly 50 years, seniors and people in their retirement years have been able to get much of their health expenses covered through the Medicare program. The one thing that many people often have trouble figuring out is which plan to choose - Medicare Advantage or Medicare Supplement. The following tips should give you a better idea of what each type is, and whether one may be better than the other based on your current situation. The best way to distinguish between Medicare Supplement - also known as Medigap - from Medicare Advantage is in the word itself - it "supplements original Medicare." In other words, the only way you can get Medigap is if you're enrolled in traditional Medicare. However, unlike Medicare, which is covered by the government, Medigap/Medicare Supplement is bought through a private insurer. Its essential function is to pay for the things that Medicare doesn't, filling in the "gaps" that Medicare leaves open for the enrollee to cover out of pocket. Since last year, there are 10 different Medigap plans that each have their own letter. No matter which private insurer you purchase Medicare Supplement from, they'll all offer the same type of benefits. Where things will be different is what you wind up paying in premiums, as the marketplace determines what insurers charge policyholders. Medicare Advantage The other option is Medicare Advantage. Once again, its description can be gleaned from its name - it offers the types of services original Medicare provides but with some extra flexibility that may be an "advantage" over the traditional type. However, unlike original Medicare, which is handled by the government, Medicare Advantage plans are purchased and maintained through private insurers.  You'll find a variety of different plan options through Medicare Advantage as well, each of which has to include the same services that the traditional type provides. Once again, though, the upshot is that Medicare Advantage will offer a few more, depending on which one you choose. Your insurance representative can help provide you with additional tips to make the best decision. Just keep in mind that you can't purchase both; it has to be one or the other, as insurers are forbidden from selling Medigap to someone who has Medicare Advantage.
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