Skip to content

Weigh Your Medicare Coverage Options

Pros and cons to consider when deciding your insurance mix

Medicare pros and cons

Getty Images

Each Medicare option offers benefits and drawbacks, so it is important to weigh them carefully.

En español

Original Medicare 

(Parts A and B)


  • You have more choices for doctors and hospitals. 
  • You don’t have to worry about your plan shutting down or leaving town.
  • You don’t need referrals for specialists.
  • Premiums are set by the federal government, not a private company.
  • Coverage is not limited to your local region.


  • Monthly premiums can be higher than Part C if you need a Medigap plan.
  • If you have serious medical conditions, your out-of-pocket costs could be higher (there is no out-of-pocket spending limit). 
  • Separate plans to cover drug costs and other health expenses can add complexity to your health care arrangements.

Medicare Advantage 

(Part C)


  • One-stop shopping — there is no need to get separate drug or supplemental policies in most Part C plans.
  • Some plans cover dental, vision and hearing.
  • A primary care physician may coordinate your overall health care needs. 
  • Plans typically have lower cost sharing than original Medicare.  


  • You may pay more for going to doctors or health care centers out of network.  
  • You may need referrals to see specialists.
  • If your plan leaves the area or shuts down, you have to choose new coverage. 
  • Some plans charge an additional premium above the standard Part B premium.

Plans are difficult to compare, as no two are the same.

Supplemental Insurance 



  • It covers some or most out-of-pocket expenses that parts A and B don’t, including hospital deductibles and 20 percent doctor-visit coinsurance.
  • You are guaranteed coverage during the initial enrollment period, even if you have a preexisting condition. Coverage is then guaranteed renewable, as long as you pay your premiums.
  • As with original Medicare, coverage is nationwide. 
  • Plans are standardized by the federal government, making them easy to compare.


  • Average premiums are more than $2,000 a year.
  • Once enrolled, it may not be easy to switch plans.
  • If you don’t sign up during the initial enrollment period, plans can deny coverage or charge higher rates. 
  • There is no prescription drug coverage, so you still have to enroll in a Part D plan.