Medicare benefits are an important key to a peaceful retirement in the Equality State.

Medical expenses only increase as you age. That’s why Medicare was invented: to make healthcare more affordable. Medicare coverage is by far the most affordable healthcare seniors can get, whether they choose Original Medicare or Medicare Advantage. But Medicare comes with a lot of options.

So for folks from Cheyenne to Cody, here is your guide to getting Medicare in Wyoming.

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Wyoming Medicare at a Glance

Number of Original Medicare Enrollees 104,955
Number of Medicare Advantage Enrollees 2,701
Total number of Medicare Beneficiaries 107,656

*Source: Kaiser Family Foundation

What Is Medicare?

Medicare is a federal health insurance program designed to serve people over the age of 65 and people with certain health conditions. Medicare is comprised of a few parts:

  • Medicare Parts A and B, or Original Medicare. Medicare Part A, also called Hospital Insurance, covers your inpatient care in hospitals, skilled nursing facilities, and the like. Medicare Part B, also called Medical Insurance, covers outpatient care like doctor’s visits.
  • Medicare Part C, or Medicare Advantage, covers everything that Original Medicare covers but is administered by a private health insurance company and can have additional types of coverage. 
  • Medicare Part D, or Medicare Prescription Drug coverage, helps pay for medicines.
  • Medigap, or Medicare Supplement Insurance, works with Original Medicare to help cover Part A and Part B deductibles, co-pays, and coinsurance.

Who Qualifies for Medicare in Wyoming?

According to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), Wyomingians can qualify for Medicare if they are American citizens or permanent residents of at least five years. Most will qualify when they turn 65—though they can sign up as early as three months before their 65th birthday.  

However, Wyomingians of any age can qualify for Medicare if they are:

  • diagnosed with end-stage renal disease (ESRD)
  • dDiagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS)

Furthermore, Wyomingians who draw from disability will qualify for Medicare after 24 months. 

How Much Does Medicare Cost in Wyoming?

Costs vary depending on the Medicare plan. While Original Medicare has a standard price, Medigap, Medicare Advantage, and Medicare Prescription Drug plans are not so standardized. 

The Cost of Original Medicare in Wyoming

Original Medicare has standardized costs across the U.S. Your costs of Medicare are divided into three categories:

  • Premium
  • Deductible
  • Coinsurance

The premium for Original Medicare is broken into two pieces. The Medicare Part A premium is based on your work credits:

  • 40+ work credits: no premium
  • 30–39 work credits: $252
  • Below 30 work credits: $458

And the Medicare Part B premium is based on your income. Most people will pay the standard $144.60. Low-income seniors will pay less, as low as $0 if they qualify. Higher-income seniors pay on a sliding scale, with the highest premium at $491.60 for incomes of $500,000 for singles and $750,000 for couples. 

The deductible for Medicare Part A is $1,408, and the deductible for Part B is $198. However, you’ll still have to cover 20 percent of your costs after the deductible is met. Because these costs can add up, many Medicare beneficiaries add a Medigap plan.

The Cost of Medigap Plans in Wyoming

There are 10 Medigap insurance plans (a.k.a. Medicare Supplement plans) currently in place in Wyoming. Each plan has differing costs and benefits. While all plans will help you cover some of your coinsurance and deductible costs, some plans are more generous than others. Generally, the more generous plans have more expensive monthly premiums

But that’s not always the case. Medigap plans are administered by private insurance companies. As different companies have different structures, they also offer different prices for the same product. 

The Cost of Medicare Advantage in Wyoming

Wyoming Medicare Advantage plans at a glance:

Total Number of Plans 39
Average Monthly Premium $31.88
Average Drug Deductible $170.38

If you want Medicare Advantage in Wyoming, it may be difficult to find if you live in a rural area. Only three percent of Wyoming residents use MA plans for healthcare in 2020. But those who do tend to get high-quality, affordable healthcare. 

Some Medicare Advantage plans are as low as $0/month. On the other end of the scale, some plans are a few hundred dollars a month. Generally, plans with higher premiums offer additional coverage like:

  • Vision
  • Dental
  • Hearing
  • Prescriptions

However, that’s not always the case. When comparing MA plans, be sure to note what’s covered or not covered with each plan. Two plans with the same price can have very different coverage benefits. 

The Cost of Prescription Drug Plans in Wyoming

Wyoming prescription drug plans at a glance:

Total Number of Plans 29
Average Monthly Premium $39.58
Average Annual Deductible $409.80

Prescription drug coverage can be tricky. There are many ways that plans can differ, and those differences can have a big impact on your pocketbook. When choosing a prescription drug plan—or a Medicare Advantage plan with prescription drug coverage—start with your prescriptions.

Using your list of prescriptions, verify it against the prescriptions covered in the plan’s formulary. A formulary is the list of medications covered by a plan. It’s typically broken into four tiers, with the first tier covering the least expensive generics and the final tier covering the most expensive specialty drugs. 

You want your medications to be covered in the first or second tier. 

How Do I Choose Between Original Medicare and Medicare Advantage?

Making the choice is tough. Each type of product has its own advantages and disadvantages, and choosing what works best for you is a personal decision. To help make things easier, we made this side-by-side chart:

Plan Type Advantages Disadvantages
Original Medicare
  • Extensive network of providers
  • Large service area across the U.S.
  • Low monthly premiums
  • Many Medigap plan options to help cover costs
  • No caps on out-of-pocket coverage
  • Must purchase add-ons like Medigap, prescription drug coverage, and stand-alone dental, vision, and hearing 
Medicare Advantage
  • Can purchase a comprehensive plan to cover medical, medication, vision, dental, and hearing
  • Many plan options, including types of plans like HMO or PPO
  • A smaller network of providers
  • Small service area restricted to your state or a region within your state
  • Premiums can be more expensive

Bear in mind that many Wyomingians may not have access to a Medicare Advantage plan, as there are few available in the state. 

Switching and Switching Back

Just because you decide initially to enroll in Original Medicare doesn’t mean you have to stay in that plan forever. Every year you’ll get the option to make changes to your plan during the fall open enrollment, or AEP. Open enrollment runs from October 15 to December 7 every year. During that time, you can switch from one type of plan to another, whether that’s switching between Original Medicare and Medicare Advantage or just changing your Medigap plan. 

If you’re in a Medicare Advantage plan, you’ll also have options to change your plan during the Medicare Advantage open enrollment from January 1 to March 31 every year. 

How Do I Apply for Original Medicare in Wyoming?

You can apply for Medicare in Wyoming in one of three ways: 

  • Online
  • Over the phone
  • In person

You can apply online by logging into your Social Security account or by making an account at Medicare.gov. To apply over the phone, you can call 1 (800) MEDICARE or Social Security at 1 (800) 442-1213—TTY users call 1 (800) 325-0778. If you worked for the railroad, you can also apply over the phone by calling the Railroad Retirement Board at 1 (877) 772-5772.

Finally, you can apply in person at your local Social Security office. However, we recommend using a remote option during the COVID-19 pandemic. We recommend that you limit as much exposure to the coronavirus as possible until you can be vaccinated. 

How Do I Apply for Medicare Advantage in Wyoming?

You can apply for Medicare Advantage through the private insurance company administering your plan. Typically, you can sign up online at the insurance company’s website. Alternatively, you can sign up over the phone. 

What’s the Best Medicare Advantage Plan in Wyoming?

The best Medicare Advantage plan really depends on your health needs and preferences. Your health conditions will affect how you use your healthcare. You should choose a plan that makes the healthcare services you use the most affordable. 

If you enjoy using online tools or mobile apps, you should choose a company with an easy-to-use website or app. If you like being able to call a 24-hour service line, you should look for a company with good reviews for its customer service. 

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FAQ Wyoming Medicare

Can I use Medicaid with Medicare?

Yes, you can. If you are dual-eligible for Medicare and Medicaid, your Medicaid will help cover the costs of Medicare premiums, deductibles, co-pays, or coinsurance. You may also qualify for the Extra Help program to help cover the cost of medications.  If you have questions about your coverage, you can contact the State Health Insurance Information Program to learn about your options. Simply call 1 (800) 856-4398.

What are the Medicaid income limits in Wyoming?

For regular Medicaid, the monthly income limits are $783 for singles, $1,175 for couples, and $1,175 for a married person filing without their spouse. For Nursing Home Medicaid and Home and Community-Based Services, the income limits are $2,349 for singles, $4,689 for couples (neither spouse can make more than $2,349), and $2,349 for someone who is married but applying without their spouse.

What is the Medicare Extra Help program?

The Extra Help program is for seniors with limited incomes. Those who qualify receive help covering the costs of their prescription drug or Part D plans. This could be in the form of assisting with premiums, deductibles, or co-payments. 

When should I sign up for Medicare?

You should sign up during your initial enrollment period. That begins three months before your 65th birthday and extends for the three months after the month of your 65th birthday. In other words, you should sign up when you qualify.  However, some people wish to postpone their enrollment to stay on an employer’s or spouse’s health plan. To postpone enrollment, you should contact Medicare to discuss whether you are eligible and how to properly postpone your enrollment. Failing to enroll at the right time can cost you fees for the rest of your life. 

Does Medicare cover long-term care?

While Medicare will cover up to three months of hospital care, it doesn’t cover long-term care. After three months, you will have significant charges for your inpatient care. To get coverage for long-term care, you will need to purchase a long-term care insurance policy separate from your Medicare. 

Conclusion: Compare Wyoming Medicare Plans Before You Buy

To ensure you get the best Medicare plan for you, you need to know your coverage options and how you plan to use your healthcare. Knowing your healthcare needs and preferences makes it easy to choose between similar plans. Knowing what’s out there ensures you’re looking at all your options. 

Having a lot of options can be overwhelming, but it also makes it more likely for you to find the health coverage you need. 

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Updated October 14, 2020

J.J. Starr is a financial copywriter and enjoys helping readers find the information they need. In addition to her background in banking and financial advising, she is also a poet with an MFA from New York University. She lives in Amherst, Massachusetts. You can learn more at jjstarrwrites.com.