Medicare in South Carolina
This article was updated on: 09/16/2018
Medicare beneficiaries in South Carolina may have choices when it comes to Medicare coverage. You may receive your benefits through Original Medicare, Part A and Part B, and add to that coverage with certain optional plans described below. Or you can get all of your Medicare coverage through a private Medicare Advantage plan.
Types of Medicare coverage in South Carolina
- Original Medicare, Part A and Part B, provides coverage for inpatient hospital care through Medicare Part A, and doctor visits and other medical services through Medicare Part B.
- Medicare Advantage plans, or Medicare Part C, are offered through private insurance companies as opposed to the federal government. Medicare Advantage plans must provide at least the same coverage provided under Medicare Part A and Part B (excluding hospice care), and many plans will include additional benefits, such as routine vision and dental, or even prescription drug coverage through a Medicare Advantage Prescription Drug plan (MAPD). Not every Medicare Advantage plan may be available in every county of South Carolina. Please note that even if you join a Medicare Advantage plan, you must continue paying your Medicare Part B premium.
- Medicare Part D offers prescription drug coverage through private insurance companies. You can get a stand-alone Medicare Part D Prescription Drug Plan to work alongside your Original Medicare coverage. As mentioned, you can also get Medicare Part D coverage through a Medicare Advantage plan that includes prescription coverage. Although this coverage is optional, if you don’t sign up for this (or a Medicare Advantage Prescription Drug plan) when you’re first eligible for Medicare, you might pay a late-enrollment penalty if you decide to add this insurance later.
- Medicare Supplement insurance, or Medigap, is optional insurance that may cover some Original Medicare costs, such as deductibles, copayments, or other out-of-pocket costs. Medigap plans are offered by private insurance companies.
Local resources for Medicare in South Carolina
- Medicare Savings Programs in South Carolina: Medicare beneficiaries in South Carolina with limited income can get help with Medicare costs through Medicare Savings Programs. You may qualify for help paying for your Medicare premiums, deductibles, and coinsurance.
- South Carolina State Health Insurance Counseling and Assistance Program (SHIP): South Carolina and the United States government put together a program called the State Health Insurance Program (SHIP), also known in South Carolina as the Insurance Counseling Assistance and Referrals for Elders program (I-CARE). I-CARE has staff throughout the state that provides free counseling on various Medicare topics. For contact information, visit Shiptacenter.org.
How to apply for Medicare in South Carolina
The Medicare application process works the same in South Carolina as it does in all other states. To qualify for Medicare, you must be either a United States citizen or a legal permanent resident of at least five continuous years. You’re usually automatically enrolled at age 65 if you get retirement benefits though the Social Security Administration (SSA) or Railroad Retirement Board (RRB). Disabled residents are automatically enrolled before age 65 if they receive Social Security disability benefits, or certain benefits through the Railroad Retirement Board, for 24 consecutive months. You may also qualify for Medicare if you have amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (Lou Gehrig’s disease) or end-stage renal disease.
If you have to apply for Medicare manually, you can visit your local Social Security office in person. You may also register online at SSA.gov or over the phone.
- Call Social Security at 1-800-772-1213 (TTY users should call 1-800-325-0778), Monday through Friday, 7AM to 7PM.
- Visit a Social Security office to apply in person. Look up the location nearest to you at SSA.gov.
- 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.
When looking to enroll in a Medicare Advantage plan, Medicare Prescription Drug Plan, or Medigap plan, you may apply by contacting the plan directly, or by calling 1-800-MEDICARE (TTY users call 1-877-486-2048), 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Did you realize there were all those choices about your Medicare coverage in South Carolina? If you’d like more information, I’d be happy to assist you. Please click the “View profile” link under my picture if you’d like to learn more about my background. Would you care to arrange a phone call with me, or have me email you information about Medicare options in your area? Just follow the links below. Maybe you’d like to browse through some of the plan options first; that’s easy if you click the Compare Plans button on this page.