Mississippi residents looking to offset some of their prescription drug costs would do well to examine Medicare’s Part D prescription drug plan. In 2016, Mississippi offers 21 distinct Part D plans provided by 11 different health care companies. Before you can enroll in one of these plans, you must be enrolled in Original Medicare Part A and Part B. Once that’s accomplished, you can submit an online or a traditional paper application to the Part D plan of your choice. Visit the provider company’s website or contact them directly for further information.
Keep in mind that you should apply for Part D benefits as soon as possible. Failure to meet Medicare’s enrollment deadlines may subject you to late fees, higher monthly premium costs, and possible health audits.
Medicare Part D vs. Medicare Advantage
In addition to Part D, you may find that some Medicare Advantage plans also offer prescription drug coverage. Medicare Advantage (sometimes referred to as Medicare Part C) shares some similarities with Part D, including the fact that it is administered via third-party insurance companies under the directly of the federal government. Part D focuses exclusively on prescription drugs, though, which typically means that it has more extensive coverage options in that department than an Advantage plan. Advantage plans are is more concerned with replacing Original Medicare Part A and Part B coverage in addition to ancillary benefits like drug coverage and other extras.
It’s important to understand that some Advantage plans are not compatible with Part D, and may be discontinued by the provider should you enroll in a Part D plan while you’re covered by Advantage. If this happens, you could lose the majority of your insurance, since Advantage typically replaces Original Medicare Part and Part B. Make sure that you check with your health insurance provider before you make any plan changes.
When to sign up
After you’ve selected a Part D plan, you should sign up during Medicare’s Initial Enrollment Period. This is a seven month window that starts three months prior to your Original Medicare eligibility date and concludes four months after that date. Your Original Medicare eligibility date is predicated upon your birth month and your 65th birthday. If you miss this initial window, you can try to sign up again during the Annual Election Period. This cycle starts each October 15th and concludes on December 7th of the same calendar year.
If you miss the first two periods, your final chance to sign up for Part D coverage will happen during one of Medicare’s Special Election Periods. You should make every effort to sign up before a Special Election Period, though, since it is a courtesy period extended to those who have lost their insurance or are suffering other hardships. Delaying your enrollment until the Special Election Period could cost you in terms of higher premiums, fees, and possibly even health audits that could affect your ability to receive coverage.
What are my choices?
The Medicare Part D services listed in the preceding table are provided in all Mississippi counties. Your county of residence may provide additional plans and services. Contact your local Medicare office for additional details.
Plans are subject to change as contracts are finalized.
Includes contracts/plans as of April 22, 2016. The data does not reflect information for employer-sponsored plans, Part B-only plans, or plans not offering a Part D drug benefit.