Many people, even those eligible for the four-part program, are confused about Medicare. They have crucial questions about coverage, such as the cost of hospital stays and the prices of prescription drugs. They also do not understand the differences between Medicare, Medigap other insurance options.

What is Medicare?

The Medicare program is divided into four parts. Every Medicare plan automatically includes Parts A and B, which cover hospital costs and general health insurance respectively. Medicare Advantage is Part C and it offers an alternative form of coverage that includes certain extra benefits. Those who do not choose Part C may use Part D to cover the costs of their prescription drugs.

What is Medigap?

Medigap is a separate type of coverage for people using Medicare. It is private insurance that helps clients to pay for things not covered by any type of Medicare. Such gaps in coverage might include co-payments or coinsurance costs at a rehabilitation hospital.

Medigap offers 10 plans. Like Medicare, each plan is represented with an alphabetical letter. They range in coverage from the most comprehensive to the least.

Most states permit you to purchase Medigap plans through insurance companies while requiring the plans to be equivalent to those offered in other states. Massachusetts, Minnesota and Wisconsin have made some alterations to the way that these plans are used. Premiums differ according to the benefits included and these prices remain separate from Medicare premiums.

Even if you suffer health problems, you can renew your Medigap insurance. Insurance carriers cannot terminate policies as long as clients continue paying premiums. However, Medigap rates do differ depending on age, location and do not cover a variety of circumstances, such as long-term care or hearing aids.

What is Medicare Advantage?

Medicare Advantage is a good alternative to the combination of Medicare and Medigap. The Advantage alternative offers the benefits found in Medicare A and B but usually with lower co-payments. However, there are sections of the Advantage Plan which cost more. Furthermore, Advantage plans typically require clients to see in-network providers and require referrals from primary doctors.

Medigap plans offer a larger network of providers but it may cost a little more upfront than Medicare Advantage. However, it can save you in the long-run if you expect a lot of treatments.

Once you turn 65, you have six months to choose a Medigap plan. After that juncture, there are some possibilities of still signing up but your options will be limited.

by Lindsay Malzone, Lindsay Malzone is the Medicare expert for She's been contributing to many well-known publications as an industry expert since 2017. Her passion is educating Medicare beneficiaries on all their supplemental Medicare options so they can make an informed decision on their healthcare coverage.