Medicare can be quite complicated with its many details. There is lots of misinformation out there about Medicare, Medicare Advantage, and Medicare supplement plans due to this complex nature, particularly as we approach the upcoming annual election period (AEP). This is the time when anyone on Medicare can sign up for a Medicare Advantage plan, a Prescription Drug Plan, or a Medicare Advantage Plan that includes prescription drug coverage.

To reduce confusion, I have outlined five common Medicare and Medigap insurance myths below:

  1. I will get free Medicare when I turn 65 years old.
    This one is not true in most cases. In reality, those who are above the age of 65 and qualified for Medicare will have to pay a premium associated with Medicare Part B, which is $134/month and they’ll deduct the payment from your social security check. If you are not receiving Social Security, then you can pay this quarterly by getting a bill. Keep in mind that the premium amount may be lower or higher, based on your income.
  2. AEP applies to Medicare supplement or Medigap plans.
    Many people mistakenly believe that AEP also applies to Medicare Supplement or Medigap plans. However, that is not true; AEP, which runs from October 15th to December 7th, is the enrollment period that is only applicable to Medicare Advantage and Part D plans. You can change your Medigap Plans at any time, but you will need to qualify medically, in order to do so.
  3. Medicare Advantage plans are types of Medicare supplement.
    Medicare Advantage plans are completely independent and different from Medicare supplements. Medicare Advantage plans take the place of Medicare Parts A & B, while Medicare supplement plans supplement Medicare parts A & B. (They both limit your out-of-pocket expenses, so I strongly recommend either, over original Medicare by itself.
  4. Medicare does not cover any preventive care.
    While this claim was true in the past, Medicare now provides coverage for a good bit of preventive care. Medicare covers a Welcome to Medicare preventative visit once you turn 65 years of age, and also covers for numerous preventive and screening services such as bone density scans or mammograms.
  5. Some doctors may not accept certain Medigap plans.
    Medigap plans do not have networks. This means that if a doctor takes Medicare payments, they are required by Federal law to take the standard Medigap plan as well.

Understanding the ways Medicare, Medicare Advantage, and Medicare supplement plans work can help you with your decisions in this upcoming AEP. If you need more information about Medicare, you can read my book entitled “The Medicare Playbook.”

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.