Medicare in Montana

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

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If you’re a Medicare beneficiary in Montana, you may not realize you have multiple options when it comes to how you get your Medicare benefits. Some people choose to get their coverage through the federally run program, Original Medicare, Part A and Part B, and supplement that coverage with a separate Medicare Prescription Drug Plan or Medigap plan. Other people get all of their health and prescription drug benefits through a Medicare Advantage plan.

Here’s an overview of your choices in Medicare if you live in Montana.

About Medicare in Montana

Original Medicare is the government-run health insurance program for adults 65 and older, as well as some individuals under 65 with certain disabilities or conditions. Original Medicare comes in two parts. Medicare Part A covers inpatient hospital and skilled nursing facility care, as well as nursing home care (as long as custodial care isn’t the only care you need), some home health services and hospice care. Medicare Part B covers outpatient services, such as doctor visits, preventive services, lab tests, X-rays, and durable medical equipment.

If you have Original Medicare, your coverage and costs work in the same way regardless of where you live. Original Medicare works the same in every state, including Montana.

Types of Medicare coverage in Montana

Some types of coverage aren’t included in Original Medicare, such as prescription drugs, routine vision and dental, and overseas coverage. You may be able to get some of those benefits covered through Medicare plans that are offered through private insurance companies that contract with Medicare.

Some Medicare insurance options in Montana include:

Medicare Advantage plans (Medicare Part C): Medicare Advantage plans are Medicare insurance offered through private insurance companies that have contracted with Medicare. These plans are required to cover at least the same level of coverage as Original Medicare, Part A and Part B. However, many plans also cover additional benefits that aren’t included in Original Medicare, such as routine vision and dental, hearing, prescription drugs, or health and wellness programs. The specific benefits and costs vary by plan. Not every plan will be available in each location, so when finding Medicare Advantage plans in Montana, make sure to search by zip code.

Medicare prescription drug coverage (Medicare Part D): Medicare prescription drug benefits are limited under Original Medicare, but can be bought separately through a stand-alone Medicare Prescription Drug Plan. If you’re enrolled in a Medicare Advantage plan, you can get drug benefits through a Medicare Advantage Prescription Drug plan.

Medicare Supplement (Medigap): Montana residents enrolled in Medicare Part A and Part B may choose to join a Medicare Supplement plan to cover “gaps” in their health-care costs, like copayments, deductibles, and overseas emergency health coverage. Private insurance companies may offer up to 10 standardized Medigap policy options, each one marked with a letter. Plans of the same letter offer the same benefits no matter which insurance company offers the plan.

Local Medicare resources for Medicare

Medicare Savings Programs in Montana: Montana residents with limited income or assets may be able to get help with Medicare premiums, copayments, coinsurance, and deductibles. To find out if you’re eligible and to apply for these programs, contact your local Medicaid office.

Montana State Health Insurance Counseling and Assistance Program (SHIP): The Montana State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP) is a free counseling service for Medicare beneficiaries. The program is funded by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) and helps people with questions on Medicare and health coverage.

How to apply for Medicare in Montana

If you’re enrolling in Original Medicare, the application process works the same in all states. To qualify for Medicare, you must be either a United States citizen or a legal permanent resident of at least five continuous years. Montana residents are automatically enrolled in Original Medicare, Part A and Part B at age 65 if they already receive benefits through the Social Security Administration (SSA) or the Railroad Retirement Board (RRB). You can also be enrolled automatically before age 65 if you receive disability benefits from Social Security or certain disability benefits from the RRB for 24 consecutive months. People with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis are automatically enrolled in Medicare in the first month of receiving disability benefits.

If these circumstances do not apply to you, then you may need to apply for Medicare manually. You’ll usually be first eligible to enroll during the seven-month Initial Enrollment Period that starts three months before you turn 65, includes your birthday month, and ends three months later.

You can apply through the Social Security Administration. Montana residents who worked for a railroad can apply through the Railroad Retirement Board. To apply for Medicare:

  • Visit the Social Security website to apply online.
  • Call Social Security at 1-800-772-1213 (TTY users should call 1-800-325-0778), Monday through Friday, 7AM to 7PM.
  • Apply in person at a local Social Security office.
  • Call the Railroad Retirement Board if you worked at a railroad. You can reach the RRB at 1-877-772-5772 (TTY users should call 312-751-4701), Monday through Friday, 9AM to 3:30PM.

It may be a good idea to consider all of your Medicare options before enrolling in a plan. Doing so will allow you to explore many possibilities, increasing your chance of finding the plan that works best for you. Whether you are new to Medicare or would like to review different plan options, I’m available to answer any questions you may have. View my profile below to learn more about my experience helping Medicare beneficiaries. Then, if you like, we can speak one-on-one over the phone, or I can email you some possible Medicare plans, tailored for your needs. If you’d like to find plans now, click the Compare Plans button to be taken to our free plan comparison tool.

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