Medicare can provide comprehensive coverage for many people for various services. However, with all the different parts and plans, it can be challenging to decipher what exactly Medicare covers. This is especially true when it comes to medications.

If you’re like other people, you’re likely wondering how your medications will be covered, including over-the-counter drugs. So, will Medicare cover health supplements?

Parts of Medicare

It’s helpful to be familiar with the different parts of Medicare first to know if Medicare covers health supplements. There are four parts to Medicare: Part A, B, C, and D. Each part of Medicare comes with its own costs. You can learn more about Medicare costs here:

Part A covers inpatient care, while Part B helps cover outpatient care. Part C, also known as the Advantage plan program, is another way to receive your Part A and Part B benefits through a private carrier. However, Part D is coverage for your retail prescription medications, so this is the part you’ll want to focus on most regarding health supplements.

Medicare Part D

Medicare Part D helps cover a wide variety of medications. Keep in mind, however, that Part D plans are provided by private insurance carriers, not the federal government. Each Part D plan is responsible for choosing which medications it will cover and how much. There are some medications that Medicare requires Part D plans to cover, but the rest is up to the plan.

Additionally, Part D plans only help cover retail prescription drugs that your provider prescribes for you. So, your Part D plan does not cover over-the-counter health supplements and vitamins in most cases. If your provider determines it is medically necessary for you to take supplements or vitamins, your plan may help.

However, it will all depend on what drugs your specific plan covers. You can refer to your Part D plan’s drug formulary (list of covered medications) to see which drugs your plan covers. If a supplement or vitamin is not included in your plan’s formulary, your plan will not provide coverage.

Medicare Part B

Now, Part B can cover certain medications as well. Typically, these drugs are medications administered by a medical professional. For example, chemotherapy medications can be covered under Part B.

So, it is also unlikely for Part B to help cover health supplements and vitamins.

Medicare Supplement Plans

In addition to the four parts of Medicare are Medicare Supplement plans, also known as Medigap plans. These Medigap plans help cover your portion of Medicare-related costs, including deductibles, copayments, and coinsurance.

An important factor is that Medigap plans will only pay for something if Medicare does. So, if Medicare does not pay for health supplements or vitamins, neither will your Medigap plan.

Medicare Advantage Plans

Like Part D plans, Advantage plans are offered by private insurance companies. When you sign up for an Advantage plan, you receive your Medicare benefits through that plan instead of the government. In other words, the Advantage plan is responsible for managing your care, not Medicare.

Most Advantage plans also include built-in Part coverage. You can check if an Advantage plan’s Part D insurance provides coverage for supplements and vitamins, but it’s not likely.

Advantage plans are required to offer at least the same benefits as Medicare. However, some Advantage plans can provide additional benefits such as dental, vision, and hearing insurance. These additional benefits may include assistance with over-the-counter supplements. However, each plan is different, so it can vary.

Final Thoughts

Generally speaking, Medicare and other coverage, including Medigap, Part D, and Advantage plans, are not likely to cover health supplements. Medicare and related supplemental plans are typically meant to help cover medications prescribed to you by a medical provider.

Therefore, you will likely be responsible for the full cost of over-the-counter medications and vitamins.