A Medicare Advantage plan (or Part C) is offered by a private insurance company which contracts with Medicare to offer Part A (inpatient/hospital insurance) and Part B (outpatient and preventive service insurance) and may or may not offer Part D (prescription drug coverage). It can be an HMO, PPO, Private Fee for Service Plan, Special Needs Plan, or Medicare Medical Savings Plan. However, a Medigap or Medicare Supplemental Insurance Policy is additional insurance coverage to the original Medicare coverage for Parts A and B and often covers co-payments, deductibles, and the remaining costs for medical services after Medicare has paid its portion. It is not covered by Medicare so an individual must pay for this policy out of his/her pocket. Medicare Supplemental Insurance policies also do not usually cover long-term care,service, vision or dental care, hearing aides, or private nursing duties.
Yes, an individual covered under a Medicare Advantage Plan can switch to a Medigap or Medicare Supplemental Policy. However, before an individual should begin the process of applying for a Medigap or Medicare Supplemental Policy, he/she should contact his/her Medicare Advantage Plan and be sure that he/she can leave the plan first and foremost. After confirmation that leaving the policy is permitted, the individual can then apply for the Medicare Supplemental Policy as early as 60 days before his/her current coverage ends but no later than 63 days after such coverage ends. An individual cannot have simultaneous coverage by his/her Medicare Advantage Plan and by the new Medicare Supplemental Insurance Policy. Further information can be read on the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services website: www.medicare.gov