If you live in Alabama and are age 65 or older, or about to turn age 65, you may be wondering about Medicare plans and what coverage options are available to you.
Medicare is a national insurance program managed by the federal government for older Americans, and people who have certain disabilities or chronic health conditions.
But Medicare is more than just a single health plan. There are multiple components, some of which are available through the federal government and some offered by private insurance companies. As such, there are a lot of things to consider when choosing which Medicare plan in Alabama might be best for you.
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) reported the following information on Medicare trends in Alabama for the 2021 plan year:
- A total of 1,059,950 residents of Alabama were enrolled in Medicare.
- The average Medicare Advantage monthly premium decreased in Alabama compared to last year — from $12.53 in 2020 to $11.06 in 2021.
- There are 82 Medicare Advantage plans available in Alabama for 2021, compared to 71 plans in 2020.
- All Alabama residents with Medicare have access to buy a Medicare Advantage plan, including plans with $0 premiums.
- There are 12 different Medigap plans offered in Alabama for 2021.
Medicare is made up of many different parts. We’ll go over a few of these parts and how they work in Alabama next.
Parts A and B are the main components available from the federal government. Together, they make up what’s known as original Medicare.
- Medicare Part A covers hospital costs. This includes inpatient health care services you may receive in a hospital, as well as some limited care in a skilled nursing facility or at home.
- Medicare Part B is for general medical services. It includes coverage for medically necessary services and procedures you get from a regular doctor or specialist on an outpatient basis, including preventive care.
While parts A and B may seem pretty comprehensive, you may find that original Medicare doesn’t provide enough coverage. You have the option to purchase additional coverage from private insurance companies to help cover these gaps.
Medicare Advantage in Alabama
Medicare Advantage (Part C) plans combine the components of original Medicare with additional coverage, like prescription drug, vision, and dental.
These plans are sold through and administered by private insurance providers and are considered a full replacement for original Medicare. You choose the insurance company and plan type that best suits your needs.
A number of private insurance companies offer MedicareAdvantage plans in Alabama, including:
- Aetna Medicare
- Ascension Complete
- Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Alabama
- Bright Health
- Lasso Healthcare
- Viva Medicare
Not all of these Alabama Medicare Advantage plans are available in every county, so enter your specific ZIP code when searching for plans where you live.
Medicare supplement plans in Alabama
Medicare supplement plans help pay costs original Medicare doesn’t cover such as copays, coinsurance, and deductibles. These plans sometimes are called Medigap plans.
Many insurance companies offer Medigap plans in Alabama. In 2021, some of the companies offering Medigap plans in this state include:
- AARP – UnitedHealthcare
- Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Alabama
- Colonial Penn
- Great Southern
- State Farm
There are 12 total different plan options available throughout Alabama. You can search for those sold in your area by entering your ZIP code into Medicare’s Medigap plan finder tool.
You may qualify for Medicare plans in Alabama if you:
- are age 65 or older
- are any age and have certain disabilities for which you’ve collected Social Security Disability Insurance for at least 24 months
- are any age and have end stage renal disease (ESRD) or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS)
When can I enroll in Medicare plans in Alabama?
You can apply for Medicare online starting 3 months before you turn age 65. This is when your initial enrollment period begins. This period lasts from 3 months before your 65th birthday until 3 months after.
Other enrollment periods include:
- Medigap initial enrollment. You can enroll in a Medigap plan for up to 6 months after you turn age 65.
- General enrollment. From January 1 through March 31, you may enroll in a Medicare plan or Medicare Advantage plan if you did not enroll during your initial enrollment period.
- Medicare Part D/add-ons enrollment. From April 1 through June 30, if you don’t have Medicare Part A, but you enrolled in Part B during the general enrollment period, you can choose a Part D prescription drug plan.
- Open enrollment. From October 15 through December 7, you may enroll in, drop out of, or change your Part C or Part D plan, or you may switch back to original Medicare.
- Special enrollment. For an approved reason, you may qualify for a special enrollment period of 8 months during which you may enroll in Medicare or switch your Part C, Part D, or Medigap plan.
Tips for enrolling in Medicare in Alabama
When choosing a Medicare plan in Alabama, you’ll want to be sure to consider the specifics of how each plan would affect you. Questions like these are important to keep in mind:
- What are the costs? Consider not just premium costs, but how much you can expect to pay out of pocket when you seek care or fill prescriptions.
- What is the plan design like? If you’re considering a Medicare Advantage plan, keep in mind that in Alabama, these plans can be structured in different ways. Do you prefer to have a primary care physician overseeing your care, or would you prefer to go straight to network specialists on your own?
- Does the network make sense for your needs? Some networks are narrower than others. If you have regular doctors you already have relationships with, it’s important to check whether or not they are in a plan’s network.
The following resources can be useful in choosing aMedicare plan in Alabama:
- Over 1 million people in Alabama are enrolled in Medicare.
- There are several private insurance companies offering various types of Medicare Advantage and Medigap plans in Alabama.
- Overall, monthly premium costs have decreased for 2021 Medicare Advantage plans in Alabama.