October 6, 2016
Medicare beneficiaries in Mississippi have options when it comes to how they can receive their Medicare coverage. You can get your Medicare benefits in two ways: Original Medicare Part A and Part B or Medicare plans offered by private insurance companies approved by Medicare , such as Medicare Advantage plans, stand-alone Medicare Part D Prescription Drug Plans, and Medicare Supplement (Medigap) plans.
Original Medicare is the federally-run program that provides health coverage for individuals 65 years old and older and individuals younger than 65 who have certain disabilities, end stage renal disease or ALS. The program covers hospital insurance (Part A) and medical insurance (Part B). Medicare Part A coverage includes inpatient hospital care, skilled nursing facility care, limited home health care, and hospice care. Medicare Part B coverage includes outpatient services, such as doctor visits, preventive screenings, and durable medical equipment.
Original Medicare coverage doesn’t include everything. It doesn’t cover prescription drugs (outside a hospital stay or as part of certain outpatient services), nor does it cover routine vision or preventive dental care.
If you are eligible for Medicare, your costs and benefits in Original Medicare will be the same in Mississippi as in any other state. You can visit any provider that accepts Medicare.
Generally, most people become eligible for Medicare when they turn age 65, provided they are United States citizens or legal permanent residents of at least five continuous years. However, some beneficiaries may enroll before age 65 if they have a qualifying disability or illness, such as ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or Lou Gehrig’s disease) and end stage renal disease (ESRD or kidney failure). If you or your spouse has worked at least 10 years and paid Medicare taxes, you will probably receive Part A premium-free, but Part B comes with a monthly premium for most people.
To apply for Medicare:
You can enroll in Part A and Part B during the following enrollment periods:
Mississippi residents who wish to get their Medicare coverage through a Medicare-approved private insurance company may have several options. The specific plans offered will vary, depending on the county and zip code where you reside.
You can sign up for any of these plans that are available to you during your initial Enrollment Period, when you first become eligible for Medicare Part A and Part B.
Medicare Advantage (Medicare Part C) offers an alternative way to get your Original Medicare benefits. Offered by private insurers contracted with Medicare, Medicare Advantage plans must offer the same benefits as Original Medicare (except hospice care which remains covered under Part A). Because these are plans offered by private insurance companies, your costs and specific benefits may be different from Original Medicare. Also, some Medicare Advantage plans have added benefits not included in Original Medicare, such as routine vision and dental coverage.
A key distinction of many Medicare Advantage plans is the inclusion of prescription drug coverage, which is not available from Original Medicare. Medicare Advantage plans that include drug coverage are known as Medicare Advantage Prescription Drug (MAPD) plans.
If you enroll in a Medicare Advantage plan, you must continue to pay your Part B premium, in addition to your plan’s premium (if it has one).
You can enroll in a Medicare Advantage plan during your Initial Enrollment Period, or during the Annual Election Period, which occurs each year from October 15 to December 7.
Medicare prescription drug coverage (Part D) Medicare Part D provides the option of obtaining prescription drug coverage. If you have Original Medicare, you can receive prescription drug coverage by enrolling in a stand-alone Medicare Part D Prescription Drug Plan, offered by a Medicare-approved private insurance company. You’re eligible to enroll in a stand-alone Medicare Part D Prescription Drug Plan as long as you have Part A and/or Part B and live in the service area of a plan. If you don’t sign up in a stand-alone Medicare Part D Prescription Plan (or a Medicare Advantage Prescription Drug Plan when you’re first eligible for Part D prescription drug coverage, you may have to pay a Part D late enrollment penalty when you enroll later if you have been without creditable prescription drug coverage (that is, coverage that is at least as good as Medicare Part D prescription drug coverage) for any continuous period of 63 days or more after your Initial Enrollment Period is over.
You can enroll in a stand-alone Medicare Part D Prescription Drug Plan during your Initial Enrollment Period or during the Annual Election Period, which occurs each year from October 15 to December 7. You cannot enroll simultaneously in a stand-alone Medicare Part D Prescription Drug Plan and a Medicare Advantage Prescription Drug Plan.
Medicare Supplement (Medigap) insurance. If you decide to stay with Original Medicare, another option you may have is to sign up for a Medicare Supplement (Medigap) plan to help pay for Original Medicare’s out-of-pocket costs. Different Medigap plans pay for different amounts of those costs, such as copayments, coinsurance, and deductibles.
Keep in mind that Medigap only works with Original Medicare. You can’t use these plans to pay for Medicare Advantage costs.
For more information on Medicare and Mississippi health services, please refer to the following resources:
Learn more about how Medicare plans work in Mississippi, including:
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