Wyoming is known as the “Equality State”, so it should come as no surprise that when it comes to Medicare and Medicare supplements, Wyoming offers a range of competitive plans and options for all Medicare beneficiaries. Among the policies offered are ten federally-mandated Medigap policies, and a range of customizable Medicare Advantage plans. However, if you’re a Wyoming resident nearing the age of 65 or one who already has a Medicare supplement but wants to change policies, it’s important to understand that while all of Wyoming’s Medigap plans are on par with those offered nationwide, the pricing of these plans fluctuates from insurance agent to insurance agent. It is therefore a good idea to do your research thoroughly before making a decision. Likewise, Medicare Advantage policies are rather flexible in nature, and can range in price depending on the agent providing the service.
When researching your options for a Medicare supplement, make sure to know not only what prices are available, but what services you will want to procure. The information below should help you make an informed and successful decision.
Understanding Medicare Supplements in Wyoming
The world of Medicare is often overwhelming, and the state of Wyoming understands that many seniors aren’t getting the coverage they need because they either don’t understand or aren’t aware of their options. To address this problem (and others), the Wyoming State Health Insurance Information Program (WSHIIP) was established. The volunteers that work for this program are available to help Wyoming’s seniors navigate the system and to act as intermediaries between policyholders and their insurance agents when necessary. Though it’s helpful to know that you can always turn to the WSHIIP for assistance, it’s also important to have a basic understanding of your rights and restrictions from the start, including:
– Every insurance agency that offers Medigap coverage must offer Plan A (the most basic Medigap plan), as well as a standardized plan which is either Plan C or F. Insurance companies are not required to offer any of the 8 other plans, though most do offer some or all of these options.
– Enrollment for Medicare supplements is available only during the open enrollment period surrounding each senior’s 65th birthday, and between October 15 and December 7th of each year. Some exceptions may be made if a working senior is part of a group plan when he becomes eligible for Medicare or if the senior moves between counties in the course of the year and needs to find a local Medicare supplement.
– Medicare supplement plans can only be changed or cancelled during the open enrollment periods.
– Medigap registrants are always entitled to a ‘First Look’, which will allow them to cancel their policy at any time, for any reason, within the first 30 days, and to receive a full refund.
– Preexisting conditions will not be a cause for policy denial if the senior applies for a Medicare supplement plan during his personal open enrollment period. At other times, preexisting conditions may prevent certain coverage from beginning immediately, but will not often result in denial of an application for Medigap or Medicare Advantage.
– Medigap Plans F and J may be available in a high-deductible option, such that the policyholder will be subject to higher deductibles (and lower monthly fees) for services falling under the policy. Insurance agents are not required to offer these options, and may opt to offer standard versions of Plans F and J. Nevertheless, if you’re interested in this option it is a good idea to inquire about it.
– Medicare Advantage offers three health insurance models; PPO, HMO and FFS (fee for service) coverage. Registrants can choose whatever plan best fits their budget and lifestyle.
Medicare Advantage vs. Medigap in Wyoming
According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, the number of Wyoming seniors that opts for Medigap is nearly ten times the number of enrollees in Medicare Advantage, with approximately 30,000 seniors choosing Medigap, and a scant 3,000 opting for Medicare Advantage. Together, this accounts for approximately 39% of the state’s senior population.
Interestingly, over 2/3 of Wyoming seniors who have Medicare Advantage plans choose Fee For Service plans, though this form of plan is not quite as popular in most other states. It is not entirely surprising then that as of January 1, 2013, Humana and Medicare Blue Regional PPO plans are no longer being offered in Wyoming.
Choosing a health insurance plan is a complex issue, especially when the decision cannot be reversed for a full year. That being said, Wyoming offers a multitude of excellent Medicare supplement options both under the Medigap and Medicare Advantage umbrellas, and Wyoming seniors should feel confident that they will save money in the long run and will ultimately take advantage of whatever coverage they’ve decided upon.
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