Recently, the Kaiser Family Foundation predicted that somewhat over one out of five Medicare beneficiaries would select a Medicare supplement plan in the coming year. At the same time, almost 30 percent will choose a Medicare Advantage plan. Supplements used to be more popular, and it’s fairly obvious that Medicare Advantage has gained in popularity at the expense of supplements. Given a choice between Medicare supplements and Medicare Advantage, why do some people still choose a supplement?
It’s fairly easy to account for the popularity of Medicare Advantage plans. For one thing, many come with no additional premium. Even those that do have a premium are usually modestly priced. They might also include prescription benefits. Alternatively, supplements always have a premium and don’t include Part D prescription coverage. People who choose a supplement usually also have to purchase a Part D plan.
Why Consider Medicare Supplement Insurance?
There are many different standardized levels of supplements. They are assigned letter names from A through N. The most comprehensive options, Plan C and Plan F, are the most expensive. The interesting thing is that they are also the most popular. Most people who decide to buy supplements are also willing to buy the most expensive supplements.
When comparing people who decide to have a supplement instead Medicare Advantage, it seems clear that supplement buyers are less concerned about the cost of premiums. It’s very important to realize that the most robust plan levels can also reduce or eliminate concerns about out-of-pocket costs. For beneficiaries who decide to buy supplements, benefits seem more important than premiums. Most Medicare Advantage plans still have deductibles and copays that leave their members vulnerable to out-of-pocket costs.
Also, most Medicare Advantage plans rely upon plan networks to control health costs. People who buy a supplement usually don’t have to worry about HMO or PPO restrictions. Supplement owners can pick any doctor who takes Medicare, don’t need referrals to get to a specialist, and are likely to have many more medical providers to choose from.
Supplements work all over the United States. Some even provide emergency coverage in foreign countries. Medicare Advantage plan members are not likely to enjoy these benefits. People who travel a lot are more likely to enjoy the flexibility of a supplement.
Is a Medicare Supplement the Best Choice?
Both of these types of Medicare health insurance policies have advantages and disadvantages. The right choice is likely to depend upon an individual’s health, budget, and preferences. It’s probably a good idea for beneficiaries to compare options in their own local area to see which choice will be more likely to satisfy their own unique needs.