With so many ways to get your Medicare benefits, it’s easy to mistake Medicare Advantage plans for Medicare Supplement insurance. The basic difference between Medigap plans and Medicare Advantage plans is that Medigap plans work with Medicare and Advantage plans replace Medicare.
You must have Medicare Part A and B to join one of the Medicare Advantage plans. For people with pre-existing medical conditions, Advantage plans can really be helpful because all conditions except End Stage Renal Disease are accepted. If you already have a plan before that condition develops, you may keep your coverage.
Medicare Advantage plans usually cover the most common prescriptions, too, so you can actually get Part A, B and D benefits all in one plan. In addition, Advantage plans usually add extra benefits, like help to pay for dental care or eyeglasses or hearing aids.
Medicare Advantage plans are available when you first sign up for Medicare, but after that, you can only join most of the plans from October 15 through December 7. There are a few five-star Advantage plans that have exceptional grades for high quality and these plans can sign up new members all through the year. To see what advantages these plans can give you, read more about the coverage here on our site. You can also listen to or call in and ask questions from leading experts during our free teleseminar.

Wiley Long is founder and president of Medigap Advisors, and is passionate about helping people navigate the confusing waters of Medicare. He is the author of The Medicare Playbook: Designing Your Successful Health Coverage Strategy, a clear and simple explanation so you can make the most of your Medicare coverage.