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Choosing between Original Medicare and Medicare Advantage

Deciding what type of health insurance to get can be a daunting task for seniors. Medicare is highly regarded and very popular, but Medicare Advantage differs in ways that could be advantageous to some.

Original Medicare includes Medicare Part A (hospital expenses) and Part B (other health care such as doctor’s office visits). The monthly premium for most participants is $104.90. Participants also pay “coinsurance” of 20 percent of most medical services.

Medicare Advantage, or Medicare Part C plans, are run by private insurance companies, and must offer comparable coverage to parts A and B. Some Medicare Advantage plans charge the same premium as Original Medicare, but many charge an additional premium. Most also charge coinsurance or a copay (a flat fee for a medical service), and these fees vary from plan to plan.

Original Medicare offers the widest choice of doctors and other health care providers. This may be particularly important to you if you like to travel. Original Medicare also has a lower monthly cost than most Medicare Advantage plans.

Most Medicare Advantage plans cover prescription drugs, which costs extra under Original Medicare. Medicare Advantage plans, by law, have a maximum out-of-pocket expense of $6,700 per year. This can give peace of mind, but most people’s out-of-pocket Medicare spending is far less than this amount. Some plans also offer vision, dental, assisted living and nursing home care, unlike Original Medicare.

The decision to go with Original Medicare or Medicare Advantage can only be made based on the particular terms of the Advantage plan that interests you. Because they are offered by private companies, Advantage plans vary widely in terms of their coverages, premiums, copays and coinsurance fees. Consider carefully the pros and cons of each option and consult with an expert if you need help deciding.

The elder law attorneys at Hook Law Center assist Virginia families with will preparation, trust & estate administration, guardianships and conservatorships, long-term care planning, special needs planning, veterans benefits, and more. To learn more, visit or call 757-399-7506.

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