Medicare Advantage Plans
(MA or MA-PDP)
Medicare Advantage plans were first known as "Medicare+Choice" plans but later took on the name "Medicare Advantage". These plans offer both health insurance coverage and optional drug coverage benefits (sometimes called MA-PD plans). Coverage is typically offered through a network of doctors and health care providers. Medicare Advantage plans often have higher co-pay amounts than a Medigap plan and may also require your primary care physician be in their network. However, Medicare Advantage monthly premiums are low. Some companies actually offer $0 premium plans and in some areas some plans will pay a portion of your part B premium (sometimes referred to as 'return of premium').
Prescription Drug Plans (PDP)
A Prescription Drug Plan, sometimes referred to as a PDP, provides insurance coverage for medications. Each insurer offering a PDP has a list of the drugs they cover. It's important to find a plan that covers the drugs you are taking so as to minimize your overall drug expenses. These plans can be purchased on a stand-alone basis or in conjunction with a Medicare Supplement or Medicare Advantage plan. Co-pays and premiums are modest and the savings can be significant.
Medicare Supplement Insurance (Medigap)
In most states, Medicare Supplement plans, also known as Medigap plans, come in 10 plan options with differing sets of benefits. These options are labeled A through N. These plans extend their health insurance beyond the benefits of Original Medicare. Medigap plans are among the most comprehensive additions to the Original Medicare benefit available. Medigap plans cover the difference between the expenses paid for by Medicare and the amount charged by a health care provider. In most states there are 10 types of Medigap plans and many plans have $0 co-pays. Some plan types have a small set of benefits beyond Medicare and others have extensive benefits beyond Medicare. Medigap plans do tend to have higher monthly premiums than Medicare Advantage plans and do not come with drug coverage. However, you can easily add a prescription drug plan (PDP) alongside your Medigap coverage.