Can I have a Medicare Advantage and a Medicare Supplement plan at the same time?
What is a Medicare Supplement plan?
Medicare Supplement insurance plans can work alongside Medicare (Part A and Part B) and may help cover costs that Medicare doesn’t pay, such as coinsurance, copayments, and deductibles. You need to pay the premium for your Medicare Supplement policy, as Medicare will not cover the cost of a Medicare Supplement policy. Medicare Supplement policies are standardized and in most states there can be up to 10 plans, labeled A-N. Each policy covers the same benefits as other policies of the same name, no matter which insurance company is offering it.
Medicare Supplement policies don’t cover costs associated with any kind of health-care plan other than Medicare Part A and Part B, including Medicare Advantage plans, employer/group health coverage, Medicaid, or TRICARE (coverage for military retirees).
What is Medicare Advantage?
Medicare Advantage (also called “Part C“) is provided by private insurance companies contracted with Medicare and offers all of the Medicare Part A (hospital care) and Part B (medical care) benefits besides hospice care, which Part A covers. Most Medicare Advantage plans also offer prescription drug coverage (Part D). Many Medicare Advantage plans cover other benefits, such as routine vision, hearing, and/or dental, and health/wellness programs. With Medicare Advantage, you’ll get your hospital insurance and medical insurance coverage through Medicare Advantage and not directly from Original Medicare.
Can I combine Medicare Supplement with Medicare Advantage?
If you already have Medicare Advantage plan, you can generally enroll in a Medicare Supplement plan under one condition – your Medicare Advantage plan must end before your Medicare Supplement policy goes into effect. In fact, it’s illegal for an insurance company to sell you a Medicare Supplement policy if they know you’re enrolled in a Medicare Advantage plan unless you can demonstrate (usually in writing) that you are leaving your Medicare Advantage plan.
If you have Original Medicare and you’re interested in signing up for Medicare Advantage, you can usually do so during the Annual Election Period between October 15 and December 7. If you enroll during this time, your coverage will begin January 1. Learn about the other enrollment periods when you can enroll in Medicare Advantage.
If you enroll in a Medicare Advantage plan and keep your Medicare Supplement plan, keep in mind that your Medicare Supplement plan will not pay any of the Medicare Advantage deductibles, copayments or coinsurance. To keep your Medicare Supplement plan, you will need to continue paying the monthly premium but you won’t be able to use it for health coverage, so it may make sense to drop your Medicare Supplement plan when you begin Medicare Advantage plan.
You do, however, have a legal right to keep your Medicare Supplement plan after enrolling in a Medicare Advantage plan, even though the Medicare Supplement plan will no longer provide you benefits. If you do cancel your Medicare Supplement plan, you may not be able to get it back. Outside your Medicare Supplement Open Enrollment period, you may be subject to medical underwriting where current or past health problems could be grounds to deny you coverage.
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