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Can I join a Medicare Advantage plan if I already have a Medicare Supplement?

Category: Medicare Supplements or Medigap
Updated: Nov, 07 2023

Surprisingly, yes, but . . .  (1) Yes, you can legally join a Medicare Advantage plan when you have a Medicare Supplement, at least technically.

(2)  But no, you cannot use both a Medicare Supplement and a Medicare Advantage plan together (the two types of Medicare coverage do not work together to bring you more benefits).

As noted by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS):
"Medigap policies can’t work with Medicare Advantage Plans.  If you decide to keep your Medigap policy, you’ll have to pay your Medigap policy premium, but the Medigap policy can’t pay any deductibles, copayments, coinsurance, or premiums under a Medicare Advantage Plan.

So, if you join a Medicare Advantage Plan, you may want to drop your Medigap policy.

Contact your Medigap insurance company to find out how to disenroll.  However, if you leave the Medicare Advantage Plan you might not be able to get the same Medigap policy back, or in some cases, any Medigap policy unless you have a “trial right.”  [Remember y]our rights to buy a Medigap policy may vary by state. You always have a legal right to keep the Medigap policy after you join a Medicare Advantage Plan.  However, because you have a Medicare Advantage Plan, the Medigap policy would no longer provide benefits that supplement Medicare."

Question:  Was my Medicare Supplement automatically cancelled when I joined a Medicare Advantage plan?

No.  If you were enrolled in a Medicare Supplement or Medigap plan and then joined a Medicare Advantage plan, please be sure that your Medicare Supplement knows of your plan change - and disenroll from the Medicare Supplement - if you so choose (read more below).

If your Medicare Supplement was not aware that you changed to a Medicare Advantage plan, it is possible that you will still be charged monthly premiums for your old Medicare Supplement – although you cannot use the Medigap plan once you join a Medicare Advantage plan.

Question:  So why would anyone want to stay enrolled in a Medicare Supplement (and keep paying for coverage they can't use) after joining a Medicare Advantage plan?

Some Medicare beneficiaries decide to keep paying their Medicare Supplement premium even though they have joined a Medicare Advantage plan so that they have the option of returning to the Medicare Supplement without medical underwriting should they decide to leave the Medicare Advantage plan after the expiration of the CMS Trial Right (returning to Medicare Supplement within 12 months of joining the Medicare Advantage plan).

In an essence, some people like to have a longer Medicare Advantage plan "test drive" while reserving the right to return to their Medicare Supplement - especially when these people have access to a $0 premium Medicare Advantage plan that includes drug coverage (MAPD) in their Service Area (ZIP or county).

See also:  Do I have a trial right to leave my new Medicare Advantage plan within the first 12 months and return to my previous Medicare Supplement?

Key PointYou cannot use your Medicare Supplement once you join a Medicare Advantage plan.

But if you keep your Medicare Supplement along with your Medicare Advantage plan, you could go back to your Medigap plan along with Original Medicare Part A and Part B, without underwriting, at any point when you are able to drop your Medicare Advantage plan -- such as if you drop your Medicare Advantage plan during the AEP or during the MA-OEP.

(further reference: Choosing a Medigap Policy: A Guide to Health Insurance for People with Medicare, CMS)

See the related Frequently Asked Question:  "Can I join a Medicare Supplement if I already have a Medicare Advantage plan?"

You can also click here to learn more about Medicare Advantage plans.

Do you have another question that we have not answered? Click here to let us know.

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  • When enrolling in a Medicare Advantage plan, you must continue to pay your Medicare Part B premium.
  • Medicare beneficiaries with higher incomes may be required to pay both a Medicare Part B and Medicare Part D Income Related Monthly Adjustment Amount (IRMAA). Read more on IRMAA.
  • Medicare Advantage plans that include prescription drug coverage (MAPDs) are considered Medicare Part D plans and members with higher incomes may be subject to the Medicare Part D Income Related Monthly Adjustment Amount (IRMAA), just as members in stand-alone Part D plans. In certain situations, you can appeal IRMAA.
  • You must be enrolled in both Medicare Part A and Part B to enroll in a Medicare Advantage plan. Members may enroll in a Medicare Advantage plan only during specific times of the year. Contact the Medicare plan for more information.
  • If you are enrolled in a Medicare plan with Part D prescription drug coverage, you may be eligible for financial Extra Help to assist with the payment of your prescription drug premiums and drug purchases. To see if you qualify for Extra Help, call: 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227). TTY users should call 1-877-486-2048, 24 hours a day/ 7 days a week or consult www.medicare.gov; the Social Security Office at 1-800-772-1213 between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m., Monday through Friday. TTY users should call, 1-800-325-0778; or your state Medicaid Office.
  • Medicare evaluates plans based on a 5-Star rating system. Star Ratings are calculated each year and may change from one year to the next.
  • A Medicare Advantage Private Fee-for-Service plan (PFFS) is not a Medicare supplement plan. Providers who do not contract with the plan are not required to see you except in an emergency.
  • Disclaimer for Institutional Special Needs Plan (SNP): This plan is available to anyone with Medicare who meets the Skilled Nursing Facility (SNF) level of care and resides in a nursing home.
  • Disclaimer for Dual Eligible (Medicare/Medicaid) Special Needs Plan (SNP): This plan is available to anyone who has both Medical Assistance from the State and Medicare. Premiums, co-pays, co-insurance, and deductibles may vary based on the level of Extra Help you receive. Please contact the plan for further details.
  • Disclaimer for Chronic Condition Special Needs Plan (SNP): This plan is available to anyone with Medicare who has been diagnosed with the plan specific Chronic Condition.
  • Medicare MSA Plans combine a high deductible Medicare Advantage Plan and a trust or custodial savings account (as defined and/or approved by the IRS). The plan deposits money from Medicare into the account. You can use this money to pay for your health care costs, but only Medicare-covered expenses count toward your deductible. The amount deposited is usually less than your deductible amount, so you generally have to pay out-of-pocket before your coverage begins.
  • Medicare MSA Plans do not cover prescription drugs. If you join a Medicare MSA Plan, you can also join any separate (stand-alone) Medicare Part D prescription drug plan
  • There are additional restrictions to join an MSA plan, and enrollment is generally for a full calendar year unless you meet certain exceptions. Those who disenroll during the calendar year will owe a portion of the account deposit back to the plan. Contact the plan provider for additional information.
  • Medicare beneficiaries may enroll through the CMS Medicare Online Enrollment Center located at www.medicare.gov.
  • Medicare beneficiaries can file a complaint with the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services by calling 1-800-MEDICARE 24 hours a day/7 days or using the medicare.gov site. Beneficiaries can appoint a representative by submitting CMS Form-1696.