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Which is Less Costly in the Long Run--Medicare Advantage or Original Medicare?

Healthcare & Medicare

This is Part 4 of Medicare FAQs we're highlighting. Be sure to check out
Part 1: What's the Difference Between Medicare Parts A, B C & D?
Part 2: Can I Switch Medigap Plans? 
Part 3: When and How Should I Apply for Medicare? 


Which is less costly in the long run? Well, we'd need a crystal ball to answer that. It depends on what your specific healthcare needs are and, if you go with Medicare Advantage, which of the many plans you choose.

Most Medicare Advantage plans include prescription drug coverage. With Original Medicare, you have to purchase Part D if you want drug coverage. Deductibles, copays, and coinsurance amounts differ between the two. Medicare Advantage has an annual out-of-pocket maximum to protect you against catastrophic costs, while Original Medicare does not (though you can purchase a Medigap Supplement for additional coverage). And the list goes on....

In addition to the costs, there are non-financial issues to consider, such as your preferred choice of healthcare provider, in or out of network, and pre-authorization requirements for certain services under Medicare Advantage.

Check out the Medicare Rights Center's excellent chart that runs a side-by-side comparison of the two: Differences Between Original Medicare and Medicare Advantage Plans 

You may also want to get in touch with your State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP). It's a confidential, free service and they can help you decide which direction is best for you. 

Be sure to make your decision only after you're well-informed of the options and how they apply to your specific needs. A hasty decision based only on current price differences could end up being a false economy in the long run.