Common Questions

Medicare Advantage Plans: An Alternative to Original Medicare

Medicare Advantage plans are an alternative to Original Medicare (Part A and Part B). Learn about these Medicare-approved health plans offered by private insurance companies.

If you want to find a plan with benefits that aren’t offered by Original Medicare (Medicare Part A and Part B), there are alternative options you can consider.

One popular option you might consider are Medicare Advantage plans. In fact, 30.8 million Medicare beneficiaries were enrolled in Medicare Advantage plans in 2023, which is more than half (51 percent) of all Medicare beneficiaries.1

What is a Medicare Advantage plan?

Medicare Advantage plans (also called Medicare Part C) are sold by private insurance companies in many areas throughout the country.

What do Medicare Advantage plans cover?

Medicare Advantage plans are required by law to provide the same hospital insurance and medical insurance coverage as Original Medicare, combined under one plan.

Medicare Advantage plans can offer additional benefits, such as one or more of the following:

Not all of these benefits are offered by every Medicare Advantage plan, and plans with these benefits may not be available where you live.

Medicare Advantage vs Medigap plans

Medicare Advantage plans and Medicare Supplement (Medigap) are two different types of Medicare coverage that are quite different. You cannot have a Medicare Advantage plan and a Medicare Supplement plan at the same time.

Medigap is a type of private Medicare insurance. These plans provide coverage for some of Original Medicare’s out-of-pocket costs such as deductibles, copayments and coinsurance. 

While Medicare Advantage plans are used in place of Original Medicare, Medigap plans are used on top of Original Medicare as a form of supplemental coverage.

And while Medicare Advantage plans provide coverage for services and items, Medigap plans typically provide coverage only for these out-of-pocket Medicare costs.

Do Medicare Advantage plans cover Part D?

Medicare Part D is another type of private Medicare coverage. Standalone Part D plans provide coverage exclusively for prescription medications. They are used alongside Original Medicare, which does not cover prescription drugs in most cases.

Medicare Advantage plans can include Part D coverage. These are called Medicare Advantage Prescription Drug plans, or MAPD plans. 

What types of Medicare Advantage plans are available?

There are a few different types of Medicare Advantage plans. Not every plan is guaranteed to be available in every area.

Types of Medicare Advantage plans include:

  • Health Maintenance Organization (HMO)
  • Preferred Provider Organization (PPO)
  • Special Needs Plans (SNP)
  • Private Fee-For-Service (PFFS)
  • Medical Savings Accounts (MSA) 

How much do Medicare Advantage plans cost?

Because Medicare Advantage plans are sold by private insurance companies, the cost of plans can vary from one company or state to another.

The average premium for a Medicare Advantage plan in 2024 is $13.24 per month.2

Some Medicare Advantage plans may even feature $0 premiums, though $0 premium plans may not be available in all locations.

Who is eligible for Medicare Part C?

In order to be eligible for a Medicare Advantage plan, you must first be enrolled in Part A and Part B of Medicare.

How do you sign up for Medicare Advantage?

A licensed insurance agent can help you go over the Medicare Advantage plan options that are available in your area and detail the costs, coverage and terms of each plan.

You can compare any Medicare Advantage plans that are available in your area, which could include plans from a number of providers.

Compare plans today.

Speak with a licensed insurance agent



About the author

Christian Worstell is a senior Medicare and health insurance writer with He is also a licensed health insurance agent. Christian is well-known in the insurance industry for the thousands of educational articles he’s written, helping Americans better understand their health insurance and Medicare coverage.

Christian’s work as a Medicare expert has appeared in several top-tier and trade news outlets including Forbes, MarketWatch, WebMD and Yahoo! Finance.

Christian has written hundreds of articles for that teach Medicare beneficiaries the best practices for navigating Medicare. His articles are read by thousands of older Americans each month. By better understanding their health care coverage, readers may hopefully learn how to limit their out-of-pocket Medicare spending and access quality medical care.

Christian’s passion for his role stems from his desire to make a difference in the senior community. He strongly believes that the more beneficiaries know about their Medicare coverage, the better their overall health and wellness is as a result.

A current resident of Raleigh, Christian is a graduate of Shippensburg University with a bachelor’s degree in journalism.

If you’re a member of the media looking to connect with Christian, please don’t hesitate to email our public relations team at

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1 Ochieng N, et al. (Aug 9, 2023). Medicare Advantage in 2023: Enrollment Update and Key Trends. Kaiser Family Foundation.

2 TZ Insurance Solutions analysis of data provided by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), including the 2024 MA Landscape Source Files as well as carrier-provided plan data provided by Sun Fire Inc.