Medicare in Iowa

Steven Mott by Steven Mott | Licensed since 2012
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This article was updated on: 09/16/2018

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Are you shopping for Medicare in Iowa? As a Medicare beneficiary, you may have many Medicare plan options available in your state, depending on where you live. Learn about the different types of Medicare coverage, including Original Medicare, Medicare Advantage plans, Medicare Part D, and Medigap.

Original Medicare in Iowa

Original Medicare is the federal health insurance program for eligible United States citizens age 65 and older or permanent residents of at least five years. You may qualify for Medicare at any age if you have certain disabilities and conditions, like end-stage renal disease or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS, or Lou Gehrig’s disease).

Original Medicare comes in two parts. Medicare Part A covers inpatient care, such as hospital and skilled nursing facility stays, hospice care, and home health care. Medicare Part B covers outpatient care, such as (but not limited to) medical services, doctor’s visits, preventive services, lab tests, and durable medical equipment.

Original Medicare doesn’t include prescription drug coverage, which you can obtain separately under Medicare Part D. You also won’t be covered for benefits like routine vision and dental services, hearing aids, dentures, long-term care, and most coverage outside of the country. Iowa beneficiaries may be able to get coverage for some of these items or services through private Medicare-approved insurance companies.

Medicare plans in Iowa

While beneficiaries may choose to receive their Medicare benefits through the government, they may wish to explore other Medicare plan options available as well. Certain types of Medicare insurance, such as prescription drug coverage, are only available through private insurance companies that contract with Medicare.

Here is an overview of your options when it comes to Medicare insurance:

Medicare Advantage plans (Medicare Part C) is Medicare health insurance available through private insurance companies approved by Medicare. These plans must cover all Original Medicare benefits, but some plans may include benefits not covered by Medicare Part A and Part B. For example, Medicare Advantage Prescription Drug plans include both drug benefits and Original Medicare health benefits in one plan. Other plans may cover additional preventive services, routine vision and dental, or health and wellness programs. Costs and coverage may vary by plan and area.

Medicare prescription drug coverage (Medicare Part D) is also available through private Medicare-approved insurance companies. Medicare beneficiaries in Iowa can get this coverage through a Medicare Prescription Drug Plan, which is a separate plan that works alongside Original Medicare. Or, if you prefer to get your benefits through a Medicare Advantage plan, you can sign up for a Medicare Advantage plan that includes drug benefits, also known as a Medicare Advantage Prescription Drug plan.

Medicare Supplement (Medigap) plans are available to Iowa residents who would like to supplement their Original Medicare benefits by filling in “gaps” in the coverage. In most states, there are up to 10 Medigap policy options, all standardized and signified by a letter of the alphabet. All plans of the same letter offer the same benefits, regardless of where the policy is purchased. These plans may pay for costs like copayments, coinsurance, deductibles, and overseas emergency health coverage.

Local resources for Medicare in Iowa

Medicare Savings Programs in Iowa: Iowa beneficiaries with limited incomes can apply to get help covering their out-of-pocket Medicare costs, such as premiums, copayments, coinsurance, and deductibles. These programs are run through the Iowa Medicaid department.

Iowa State Health Insurance Counseling and Assistance Program (SHIP): The Senior Health Insurance Information Program (SHIIP) is Iowa’s state program that provides beneficiaries with free counseling on Medicare.

How to apply for Medicare in Iowa

To qualify for Medicare, you must be either a United States citizen or a legal permanent resident of at least five continuous years.

If you’re newly eligible, you apply for Original Medicare in Iowa the same way you would in any state: through the Social Security Administration (SSA). You can enroll by:

  • Visiting the Social Security website.
  • Calling Social Security at 1-800-772-1213 (TTY users should call 1-800-325-0778), Monday through Friday, 7AM to 7PM.
  • Applying in person at a Social Security office.

If you worked for a railroad, call the Railroad Retirement Board at 1-877-772-5772 (TTY users call 312-751-4701), Monday through Friday, 9AM to 3:30PM.

Like residents of other states, Iowa residents are enrolled in Medicare automatically once they reach age 65, provided they are already receiving benefits from Social Security or the Railroad Retirement Board. You’re also automatically enrolled if you’ve received disability benefits from Social Security or certain disability benefits through the Railroad Retirement Board for 24 consecutive months; or if you have amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS, or Lou Gehrig’s disease). Otherwise, you may need to manually apply. For more information, see enrolling in Medicare.

If you’re interested in enrolling in an optional Medicare plan, keep in mind that availability may vary by zip code. One of your options is to use a plan comparison tool that lets you view multiple plans side by side. If you’d like help exploring some of your Medicare options in Iowa, I can answer any questions you may have. Find out more about my background by viewing my profile. Or, to speak over the phone or have me email you some potential plan choices, just click on the links below. If you’d like to get started finding plans on your own, you can use our Compare Plans button to view available plans in your zip code.

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