- Original Medicare covers only Parts A and B. There is no limit on your out-of-pocket expenses. It doesn’t cover medical services outside of the U.S., even in emergency situations. It generally covers medical services with any doctor or facility that accepts Medicare assignments. No referrals are required to visit providers nationwide. It does not include prescription drug coverage. You will need to apply for a separate Part D for this coverage.
- Medicare Advantage Plans (MAs) MA plans may include additional benefits like dental, hearing, vision, transportation, foreign travel and other benefits that Original Medicare does not cover. Some MAs limit the use of Medicare covered services with in-network doctors or facilities. MAs may require referrals to see providers. With MAs you get one card to visit providers and utilize prescription drug benefits (if available on your MA plan.) Providers can choose to leave an MA plan at any time, which means you may need to change your provider to remain in the network for your MA benefits.
Whether you choose Original Medicare or Medicare Advantage Plans depends on your budget, medical services needed, and whether you travel often outside of your service area. Keep in mind, Original Medicare does not include prescription drug coverage and penalties may apply for not getting that coverage in place once eligible for Original Medicare.