Medicare Vs. Private Insurance: All You Need To Know in 2023

Individuals looking for health insurance can choose between Medicare and private companies. The best option depends on a person’s health needs and financial situation.

The federal government provides original Medicare, and private companies manage private health insurance and Medicare Advantage plans on behalf of the government.

The cost of private insurance varies depending on the tariff type and coverage level. In addition, some employers offer private insurance as a perk.

A person should assess what health insurance provider they need to help them choose their plan. There are many health insurance options in the market, both government funded and private.

Anyone 65 or older qualifies for Medicare, a federal program that provides affordable health care. However, some people prefer to compare this coverage to private insurance options.

There are some significant differences between Medicare and private insurance options, coverage, costs, and more.

In this article, we’re going to take a deep dive into the differences and some similarities between Medicare and private insurance.

What is the Difference Between Private Health Insurance and Medicare?

The difference between private health insurance and Medicare is that Medicare is primarily intended for individual Americans 65 and over and outperforms private health insurance in the number of coverage options, while private health insurance provides coverage for loved ones.

Not only does Medicare offer many combinations of coverage to choose from, but there are plans within those combinations that offer different levels of coverage.

When buying private health insurance, choosing coverage isn’t too complicated. When it comes to an employer plan, choose from a limited number of options offered by your company.

READ ALSO: Best Health Insurance Companies Of 2023

What types of Medicare coverage do private insurance companies offer?

Medicare works with private insurance companies to provide Medicare benefits. The types of Medicare coverage you can get from Medicare-approved private insurance companies include:

  • Medicare Part D coverage for prescription drugs
  • Medicare Supplement (Medigap) insurance to cover Medicare expenses such as deductibles, co-payments, and co-insurance
  • Medicare Advantage plans include your Part A (hospital) and Part B (health insurance) insurance in one convenient plan. Medicare Advantage plans can also include additional benefits such as prescription drugs, routine vision, routine hearing, and routine dental services.

Whichever insurance option you choose, you are still in the Medicare program. You must remain enrolled in Medicare Part A and Part B to qualify for Medicare Advantage or Medicare Supplement.

If you sign up for a Medicare Part D standalone prescription drug plan, you’ll need either Medicare Part A or Part B (both are fine).

Does Medicare coverage cost more through private insurance?

Medicare coverage from Medicare-approved private insurance companies may cost you an additional monthly premium, but it may also save you money over time.

You may be surprised to learn that Original Medicare (Part A and Part B) has no intrinsic maximum. This means that with extensive medical care, you can expect huge bills.

Two Medicare supplement plans, Medicare Supplement Plan K and Plan L, have caps. Other Medicare supplement plans can still help you meet Medicare expenses.

All Medicare Advantage plans must have a cash payment that protects you from devastating financial responsibility if you have serious health. The limits may vary depending on the plan.

Medicare vs. Private insurance: Premiums

In general, private insurance companies can increase your premium based on three factors that do not affect your original Medicare premiums.

  • Age: According to, private insurance companies can charge premiums up to three times higher for older people than for younger people.

On the other hand, most people eligible for Medicare do not pay a premium for hospital insurance (Part A). Most people with Medicare pay a premium for health insurance (Part B), but this premium does not increase or decrease based on age.

  • Location: According to, where you live has a major impact on your premiums from private insurance companies. Medicare Part A and Medicare Part B premiums are the same regardless of your US location.

If you have any type of Medicare coverage from a private insurance company, such as Premiums and other costs can also vary between insurance companies.

  • Tobacco Use: Using cigarettes does not increase your original Medicare premiums (Part A and Part B). However, according to, Medicare supplement plans can offer discounts to nonsmokers.

Medicare plans, however, can cost more because they do not have the cash out-of-pocket expenses that are required for all Medicare Advantage plans.

Medicare vs. Private Insurance

The differences between Medicare and private insurance are an important factor in deciding which type of plan is best for you.

Medicare plans

When you sign up with Medicare, your insurance coverage consists of two main parts:

  • Part A or hospital insurance covers inpatient care as well as limited home nursing, the limited qualified care facility, and hospice care.
  • Part B, health insurance, covers outpatient visits and services as well as preventive healthcare.

Private Insurance plans

There are many ways to get private insurance. Many people take out private insurance through their employer and their employer pays part of the premiums for this insurance as a benefit.

Another option is to buy insurance from the Federal Health Care Market. There are four tiers of private insurance plans within the insurance exchange markets. These levels differ based on the percentage of services for which you are responsible.

  • Bronze plans cover 60 percent of your healthcare costs. Bronze plans have the highest deductible of any plan, but the lowest monthly premium.
  • Silver plans cover 70 percent of your healthcare costs. Silver plans generally have a lower deductible than Bronze plans, but with a moderate monthly premium.
  • Gold plans cover 80 percent of your healthcare costs. Gold plans have a much lower deductible than bronze or silver plans, but with a high monthly premium.
  • Platinum plans cover 90 percent of your healthcare costs. Platinum plans have the lowest deductible, so your insurance will often pay out very quickly, but they have the highest monthly premium.

Within each of these levels, companies also offer various plan structures such as HMO, PPO, PFFS or MSA. In addition, some private insurance companies also sell Medicare in the form of Medicare Advantage, Part D, and Medigap plans.

READ ALSO: EPO vs PPO Health Insurance: Which one is better?

Medicare vs. Private Insurance Costs

Direct cost comparison between Medicare and private insurance plans is difficult due to several factors, such as:

  • Employers who offer private insurance plans can also pay part or the entire monthly premium.
  • Some people sign up for privately managed Medicare Advantage plans, which also vary in cost, but maybe more cost-effective than the original Medicare for some people.
  • A Medigap policy covers costs such as deductibles and co-payments, but the monthly premium for Medigap policies varies.
  • Medicare premiums only cover one person. However, private insurers can extend coverage to other family members, such as dependents.

Other factors that affect the cost of private insurance are:

  • the age of the person
  • Where do you live
  • the benefits of the plan
  • the expenses

In general, private insurance costs more than Medicare. Most people are eligible for a $0 Medicare Part A premium.

Medicare vs. out-of-pocket private insurance

Medicare expenses can include deductibles, co-insurance, monthly premiums, and co-payments for eligible medical treatments, items, and services, including prescription drugs.

However, private health insurers usually have different rules on out-of-pocket expenses, including co-payments.

For example, health insurers those private insurance companies manage usually limit out-of-pocket expenses, which means that after a person has paid a certain amount of co-insurance fees, the insurance company will cover 100% of the cost of that benefit until the next membership period.

Original Medicare has no out-of-pocket maximum. This means that there is no cap on the cost of health care due to co-payments for services.

The maximum cash limit for Advantage plans in 2023 is $8,700 for one person and $17,400 for a family.

How Much Is Medicare Pay Compared To Private Insurance?

The tariff that Medicare pays compared to private insurance depends on the services provided and the tariffs can vary. However, according to a 2020 KFF study, private insurance payments were 1.6-2.5 times higher than Medicare’s for inpatient hospital benefits.

Can I have both Medicare and Private Insurance?

A person can have both Medicare and private insurance at the same time. In these cases, Medicare sets primary and secondary payers. The main payer pays the claim first, while the second payer pays the expenses that are not funded by the main payer.

Medicare has different rules for determining the primary payer. For example, Medicare is the main payer if an individual is privately insured through an employer with fewer than 20 employees. To determine the main payer, a person should call their private insurer directly.


Both Medicare and private insurance companies offer health insurance options, but there are differences between the two types of insurance.

Medicare is government-funded health insurance that can help you save on your monthly medical expenses, but there is no limit to how much you can pay out of pocket each year.

Private health insurances are offered by private companies, which are usually more expensive every month but offer the beneficiaries a maximum of personal contributions and more flexibility.

Take into account all of your personal, medical, and financial needs as you choose the plan that is best for you.


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