If you’re eligible for Medicare in Mississippi, it’s important to know what your options are. This will help you make informed choices when selecting your coverage.
Medicare is a national health program, run by the federal government, for people age 65 and over and those with certain disabilities. You get some parts of Medicare, known as original Medicare, directly from the government.
You can also purchase Medicare plans through private insurance companies. These plans can add to or replace your original Medicare coverage.
The Medicare coverage available from the government is often referred to as original Medicare. It has two parts: Part A and Part B.
Part A helps pay the costs of inpatient care services you get as an inpatient in a hospital setting. Part A may also pay for:
- hospice care
- a limited amount of the costs for care at a skilled nursing facility
- some home health services
Most people can get Part A without having to pay a premium for it. This is because it’s funded through a payroll tax, so you likely already paid for it during your working years.
Part B helps pay for costs that include:
- outpatient care
- medical supplies
- preventive care you get in a doctor’s office
You do have to pay a premium for Part B. The amount varies depending on factors such as your income.
While Medicare pays a significant portion of these costs, it doesn’t pay 100 percent of them. You’ll still pay for copays, coinsurance, and deductibles. These costs can add up, especially if you have to seek care often.
Plus, original Medicare doesn’t cover any costs of prescription drugs, long-term care, or dental, hearing, or vision services. But you do have options for expanding your coverage, discussed below.
Medicare supplement (Medigap)
You can buy Medicare supplement plans, sometimes called Medigap plans, from private insurers. These plans help cover the gaps in original Medicare coverage.
They may help lower out-of-pocket costs, such as copays and coinsurance. And they may add services like dental, vision, hearing, or long-term care coverage.
Medicare Advantage (Part C)
With Medicare Advantage (Part C) plans, you have the option to combine coverage into a single plan from a private insurer rather than get original Medicare plus supplemental coverage.
Medicare Advantage plans are a full replacement you can enroll in instead of getting original Medicare. These “all-in-one” plans cover all of the same benefits as original Medicare.
They also have expanded coverage you might get from Medicare supplements, such as lower out-of-pocket costs, prescription drug benefits, dental and vision coverage, and so on.
Medicare Part D
Another specific type of Medicare plan is Part D. These are prescription drug plans that focus solely on helping pay the costs of prescription medications.
The following private insurance companies offer Medicare Advantage plans in Mississippi:
- Aetna Medicare
- Lasso Healthcare
- Vantage Health Plan
Medicare Advantage plan offerings vary by county, so enter your specific ZIP code when searching for plans where you live.
You can enroll in a Medicare plan in Mississippi if you are:
Your initial enrollment period for Medicare begins 3 months before the month of your 65th birthday and continues for 3 months after, regardless of whether you’re retired or have plans to retire anytime soon.
It usually makes sense to enroll in at least Part A at this time, since you likely can get it without paying a premium. Part A will coordinate benefits with any other coverage you have.
If you choose to continue working, or if you qualify for employer-sponsored coverage through your spouse, you may decide to not enroll in Part B or any supplemental coverage just yet. In these cases, you’ll qualify for a special enrollment period later on.
There’s also an open enrollment period every year. During this time, you can enroll for the first time or change plans. The open enrollment period for Medicare Advantage plans is January 1 through March 31 each year.
Shopping for Medicare coverage is just like shopping for any insurance plan. You want to be aware of how plans might vary and how those differences might affect the ways you seek healthcare. This will help you narrow down which options best suit your needs.
It’s important to remember that while federal law says that Medicare Advantage plans must cover all the same benefits as original Medicare, insurance companies have some flexibility in plan design. When considering your options, you’ll want to ask yourself questions, such as:
- How much will this plan cost? How much are the premiums? How much will I need to pay out of pocket when I seek care or fill a prescription?
- Is the provider network sufficient? Does it include doctors and hospitals near me? What about doctors I’ve already been seeing for care?
- Will I need to choose a primary care doctor and get referrals to see specialists?
- What are other people saying about the plan? You can usually find reviews online or check a plan’s star rating. You can also ask friends and acquaintances already enrolled in Medicare plans in Mississippi what they think of their coverage.
You can learn more about your Medicare coverage options in Mississippi through the following organizations:
- Mississippi Insurance Department (800-562-2957)
- Mississippi Department of Human Services, Division of Aging and Adult Services (888-240-7539)
- Medicare (800-MEDICARE)
- Social Security Administration
When you’re ready to take the next steps toward Medicare enrollment, here are some things you can do:
- Do some more research into the Medicare plans available to you. If you want to learn more about Medicare Advantage plans in Mississippi, the list of resources above can be a great starting place.
- Consider talking with an insurance agent who can give individualized advice on how different plan options may suit your specific situation.
- If you’re currently eligible to enroll in Medicare, you can fill out the online application available through the Social Security Administration website.
This article was updated on November 10, 2020, to reflect 2021 Medicare information.
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