In other posts, we have discussed the difference between Medicare Supplemental Insurance and Medicare Part C. Basically, additional Medigap insurance coverage will provide you with more and more protection from the expenses associated with Medicare. This insurance will, for example, defend you from having to pay as much out of pocket for hospital visits or doctor’s care. However, it does little when faced with the day to day requirements of routine care. For that, you will need a Medicare Part C Plan. Since you can only have Medicare Part C or Medigap, not both, this is a bigger decision than it may seem.

One of the things that surprise many people about Medicare is that it does not cover most routine care. For example, the cost of eye exams, dental exams, and auditory health will very rarely be covered by Medicare. In the few cases that it is covered, it is only done incidentally: A dental examination may be covered if it is part of the preparation for an organ transplant, for example. These limitations are set by law, and it would literally take an act of Congress to change the benefits that are available. Even Medicare Supplemental Insurance is unlikely to help!

Granted, it is not always necessary for Medicare beneficiaries to have regular eye or ear exams. But many people will find that they need occasional medical help to maintain their senses as they age. Medicare Supplemental Insurance — also known as Medigap — provides little assistance in this area. Although some forms of Medigap can provide part of your “out of pocket” expenses for routine care, it is not the solution that most people are looking for. In fact, if you are dealing with a variety of routine care needs on a regular basis, you may opt for Medicare Part C.

If you find yourself in need of routine care for things like hearing aids, glasses, or dentures, you may wish to consider Medicare Part C. However, if you have suffered from chronic conditions that require occasional long-term hospitalization, for example, you might benefit more from Medicare Supplemental Insurance. Since this can be a complex choice with no clear cut answer — which partially requires you to consider the situation you will be in months later — it is a good idea to consult with knowledgeable experts. Also remember that, each year, you’ll have a chance to alter your Medicare coverage.