Additional Coverage Options

Once you enroll in Original Medicare, you can choose to add plan(s) from private insurance companies to help fill some of the coverage gaps and reduce your out-of-pocket costs. These plans include Medicare Supplement plans, Prescription Drug (Medicare Part D) plans, and Medicare Advantage (Medicare Part C) plans.

IMPORTANT NOTE: With all of these plans, you must continue to pay any Part A or Part B monthly premiums.

Medicare Supplement Plans

Medicare Supplement plans (also called “Medigap” plans) help pay some of the health care costs that Original Medicare doesn’t cover, like copayments, coinsurance, and deductibles. Some also cover services Original Medicare doesn’t, like care outside the US. Supplement plans cannot cover prescription drug costs, so you can also buy a Part D Prescription Drug plan (see below). Monthly premiums for Supplement plans are typically higher than those charged by Medicare Advantage plans.

Medicare Prescription Drug Plans (Medicare Part D)

Original Medicare does not offer prescription drug coverage. If you want prescription drug coverage, you either have to buy a stand-alone Part D plan from an insurance company contracted with Medicare, or you can enroll in a Medicare Advantage plan that also offers Part D benefits. You pay a monthly premium, deductibles, and copayments or coinsurance with stand-alone plans and with some Medicare Advantage plans.

Medicare Advantage Plans (Medicare Part C)

With Medicare Advantage plans (also called “Medicare Part C”) you can receive coverage for your Part A inpatient hospital stays, Part B doctor visits, and Part D prescription drugs all in one plan. Medicare Advantage plans cover everything that Original Medicare covers and more. Many include Part D drug coverage and other benefits like routine vision and hearing exams and fitness/wellness benefits. Many also cover emergency services abroad. There is a wide range of Medicare Advantage plans—including HMO, HMO-POS, and PPO plans—so costs, benefits, and your choice of health care provider can vary.


Medicare Advantage plans tend to cost less! These plans often charge lower copayments and coinsurance than Original Medicare and include caps on your yearly out-of pocket costs. Monthly premiums for these plans are also typically lower than those charged for Medicare Supplement plans. Many Medicare Advantage plans also include Part D Prescription Drug coverage and don't require you to enroll in an additional, separate Part D plan

Click here to learn about Medicare Advantage plans with high Medicare quality ratings.

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