At a glance: Medicare health insurance in Wyoming
- Nearly 107,000 Wyoming residents are enrolled in Medicare.
- About 96 percent of Wyoming Medicare beneficiaries opt for Original Medicare (instead of Medicare Advantage).
- Of Wyoming’s 23 counties, 15 didn’t have Medicare Advantage plans available for purchase at all prior to 2019, but now have an MSA option.
- Wyoming has 27 Medigap insurers, but only two will consider applicants under age 65. The state’s high-risk pool also offers supplemental coverage for Medicare beneficiaries.
- Nearly two-thirds of Wyoming Medicare beneficiaries have stand-alone Part D prescription coverage.
- Wyoming has 28 stand-alone Part D drug plans in 2019, ranging from $15 to $94 per month.
- Average Medicare spending per Wyoming enrollee was about $7,681 in 2016.
Wyoming Medicare enrollment
As of November 2018, there were 106,787 Wyoming residents enrolled in Medicare. That’s a little more than 18 percent of the state’s total population, which is comparable to the overall percentage of the United States population enrolled in Medicare.
Medicare Advantage in Wyoming
Nearly all Wyoming Medicare beneficiaries opt for Original Medicare – only about 4,100 people were enrolled in private Medicare Advantage plans in 2018. Nationwide, about 36 percent of Medicare enrollees select Medicare Advantage plans, but Original Medicare is much more popular in Wyoming.
That’s due in large part to the fact that much of Wyoming simply didn’t have any Medicare Advantage plans available for purchase prior to 2019. There were no Medicare Advantage plans for sale in 15 of the state’s 23 counties. But for 2019, Lasso Healthcare has started offering Medicare Savings Account plans (a type of Medicare Advantage plan) statewide in Wyoming.
Medigap in Wyoming
The Wyoming Department of Insurance publishes an annual buyer’s guide for Medigap coverage (here’s the 2018 guide) with helpful state-specific information. The guide notes that people under age 65 who are eligible for Medicare due to a disability are not guaranteed access to a Medigap plan. (There are no federal rules to ensure access to Medigap plans for people under age 65, although many states have taken action to address this.)
In Wyoming as of 2018, two Medigap insurers (Liberty National Life and United American Insurance Company) would consider applicants who are under age 65, but only for limited plan options. However, the Wyoming Health Insurance Pool provides guaranteed-issue coverage for applicants who are unable to obtain Medigap coverage due to medical underwriting.
Wyoming is one of several states where state-run high-risk pools are still operational, with supplemental coverage available to Medicare beneficiaries who are unable to obtain private Medigap plans. The others are Alaska, Iowa, Nebraska, New Mexico, North Dakota, South Carolina, and Washington. Wyoming enacted legislation in 2019 that extends the operation of the Wyoming Health Insurance Pool through 2030.
For people who are age 65 or older, there were 27 insurers offering Medigap plans in Wyoming as of 2018. The state’s annual buyer’s guide includes sample prices for a 65-year-old for each plan offered by each insurer (Medigap plans are standardized at the federal level, with ten different plan options available, but not all insurers offer all plan options).
As of November 2018, about 61 percent of Wyoming Medicare beneficiaries were enrolled in stand-alone Part D prescription drug plans. For 2019 coverage, Wyoming has 28 plans with premiums ranging from $15 to $94 per month.
Original Medicare does not cover outpatient prescription drugs. But Medicare beneficiaries can get prescription coverage via a Medicare Advantage plan, an employer-sponsored plan (offered by a current or former employer), or a stand-alone Part D plan. In areas where Medicare Advantage enrollment is lower, enrollment in stand-alone Part D plans tends to be higher.
In 2016, Medicare spent an average of $7,681 per Original Medicare beneficiary in Wyoming (this analysis did not include costs for Medicare Advantage enrollees). The national average that year was $9,533 per enrollee, so costs were significantly lower than average in Wyoming (the cost analysis standardizes the data to eliminate geographic differences in payment rates). Wyoming was one of just eight states where per-enrollee spending was less than $8,000 in 2016.
You can read more about Medicare in Wyoming in our state Medicare guide.
Louise Norris is an individual health insurance broker who has been writing about health insurance and health reform since 2006. She has written dozens of opinions and educational pieces about the Affordable Care Act for healthinsurance.org. Her state health exchange updates are regularly cited by media who cover health reform and by other health insurance experts.