What’s a Medicare Cost plan?

Medicare Cost plans can include Part D and benefits beyond Original Medicare. Find out how they’re different from Medicare Supplement plans.

I love to garden at home and at my church. While I really like the feeling of getting my hands dirty in the summer heat, my favorite part is picking out which seeds to plant in the spring – figuring out which ones will work best with the amount of sunlight my garden gets, the type of soil I have, and the short Midwestern growing season.

Medicare plans are a bit like that, too. There are different types of plans available because everyone has different health care needs. The type of plan that works well for your friend or family member might not be the best one for you. That’s why it’s helpful to learn about all your Medicare options.

People often choose one of these two options:

1. Original Medicare + Supplement Insurance

Stay with Original Medicare and buy an additional Supplement Insurance plan and possibly a Medicare Part D prescription plan.

2. Private Medicare plan (like a Cost plan with or without Part D)

Buy a Medicare plan that includes all your Original Medicare benefits, plus more. And, some cover your prescription meds.

Here’s a table to break down the differences between these two plans.

 Supplement planCost plan
How does it work with Original Medicare?Both plans work with your Original Medicare coverage and may offer more benefits for a monthly premium.
Is Part D prescription drug coverage included?No.Some Cost plans cover Part D. For those that don't, you can buy a stand-alone Part D plan.
What does it cost?Popular plans have a monthly premium between $150 and $200.Cost plans can have a much lower monthly premium, like $35 - $70.
How does it work?You pay more each month, no matter how much care you end up getting – but you pay less out of pocket for the care you need.You pay a lower monthly premium, and a copay or coinsurance only when you get the care you need
How convenient is it?You manage enrollment, monthly premium payments and member ID cards for each of your Medicare plans – sometimes as many as three separate plans.Depending on the type of Cost plan you have, it may cover all your health care needs – you could have just one ID card and one plan to manage.
Are there extra perks and benefits?Some plans may include worldwide emergency care and a gym membership.Many plans include a gym membership, eye and ear exams, worldwide emergency care and disease and health management programs.