FAQs About Medicare Supplement Plans And Prescription Drug Coverage

What do you need to know about Medicare supplement plans and prescription drug coverage? Also known as Medigap, a supplement can help you to pay for out-of-pocket expenses that Original Medicare (parts A and B) won't cover. While you might already know that Medigap eliminates many of your copays, you may still need to learn more about medication-related payments. Before you enroll in a policy, take a look at the top Medigap-prescription questions that have been answered.

Why Doesn't Original Medicare Pay for Prescriptions?

You have parts A and B—but aren't sure why you would need to purchase another part or policy just to pay for your prescriptions. Unlike many private insurance plans, Original Medicare isn't all-inclusive and doesn't cover every healthcare-related service or fee. Part A is also commonly known as hospital insurance. This coverage pays for inpatient hospital care, skilled nursing facility care, hospice care, and some types of home health care services. Part B is your medical insurance. This part helps to pay for doctor's visits, specialist's visits, and preventative care (such as wellness visits, screenings/tests, and immunizations). 

Even though it may seem like the combination of parts A and B pays for most of your medical costs, you may notice that one expense is missing—your prescription drugs. Neither of these parts will cover most prescription costs. This means you will either need to buy a part D (prescription drug) plan or choose an additional coverage option. 

Do Supplement Plans Cover Prescription Drugs?

New supplement plans do not include prescription drug coverage. Medicare recipients who enrolled in a supplement plan prior to 2006 may have had prescription drug insurance (depending on the specific plan). Some people who have older Medigap plans that come with prescription coverage may choose to remove this option from their policy. This allows them to select a separate Medicare prescription plan. 

How Can You Get Prescription Coverage?

If you have a new supplement plan, an older plan that came without drug coverage, or removed your existing drug coverage, you can purchase Medicare part D. This additional coverage will help you to pay for the cost of some (or possibly all) of your prescription drugs.

A Medicare Advantage Plan (also known as part C) will also pay for prescription drugs. The Advantage Plan combines hospital, medical, and prescription coverage. This type of plan, like a supplement, is sold by a private insurer. Unlike parts A and B, you cannot use Medigap to cover out-of-pocket expenses (such as deductibles and copays) for Advantage Plans. If a supplement makes sense for your healthcare expense needs, you will need to choose Part D to pay for medications instead of an Advantage Plan. 

Keep these tips in mind when looking for Medicare supplement plan providers near you.