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Medicare Coverage Choices

You have two ways to get Medicare.

You can get coverage through Original Medicare or Medicare Advantage. No matter which way you decide to go, you first need to enroll in Medicare.

Once you’re enrolled, you have other decisions to make.

Step 1

Enroll in Original Medicare when you become eligible

Original Medicare

Covers hospital stays

Covers doctor and
outpatient visits

Step 2

If you want additional coverage, you have choices


Keep Original Medicare and add Medicare Supplement Insurance

Helps with some of the out–of–pocket
expenses not paid by
Medicare Parts A & B

Enroll in Medicare Advantage plan Medicare Advantage (Part C)

Combines Parts A & B and
may cover prescription drugs

Additional benefits

If your Part C plan doesn't
include prescription drugs,
consider adding Part D


Medicare Part D

Covers medications
your doctor prescribes

Medicare supplement plans only work with Original Medicare. If a private insurer knows that you are enrolled in a Medicare Advantage plan, the insurer can't sell you Medicare supplement insurance unless you are switching to Original Medicare.

How Medicare parts and plans work together

As the chart shows, you can combine different Medicare parts and plans to meet your specific needs. Your choices depend on which path you take—Original Medicare or Medicare Advantage.

Some people who choose Original Medicare add prescription drug coverage (Part D) and Medicare supplement insurance, but it’s not required. Most Medicare Advantage plans include prescription drug coverage plus additional benefits like vision, dental and hearing coverage—all in one plan.

If you have a Medicare Advantage Private Fee-for-Service plan (PFFS) A type of Medicare Advantage plan that allows you to visit any Medicare-eligible doctor, hospital or other health care service provider who is willing to accept the plan’s payment terms and conditions. that does not include prescription drug coverage, you can buy a standalone Part D prescription drug plan. This is the only type of Medicare Advantage plan that allows you to do this.