1 – Medicare supplements were standardized by the government in 1989.

It doesn’t matter if you buy a plan from Company X or Company Y, the benefits are exactly the same. Furthermore, Medicare actually processes every claim, then sends the Medicare supplement company the balance of the bill electronically via the Medicare crossover program. Only the rates are different.

2 – Part D Prescription Drug Plans are standardized.

Each plan follows the same guidelines. Each plan must cover 100% of Medicare’s base formulary. Some plans offer discounts for mail order, some charge extra to cover the postage and handling. Some plans offer more drugs on their formulary than Medicare requires.

3 – Medicare Advantage plans actually replace Medicare.

Medicare transfers your benefits and responsibility to the Medicare Advantage insurance company. You still will be required to pay for your Medicare Part B premium.

4 – Medicare Advantage plans may or may not include Part D prescription drug plans.

Most plans do. If you select a Medicare Advantage plan without Part D prescription drug coverage, you can not purchase an independent Part D. Plans without Part D prescription drug coverage were designed for folks with Veterans Administration Medicare benefits or employee / retiree prescription benefits.

5 – Medicare supplements can be changed any month of the year.

Underwriting may be involved. Medicare advantage plans only ask one question and can be changed during the annual election period from October 15 to December 7 every year.