If you live in Alabama and are age 65 or older, or about to turn 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.
Medicare is made up of different parts. 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 or skilled nursing facility, as well as some limited home health services. Most people don’t pay a premium for Part A. That’s because you pay for it through a payroll deduction during your working years.
- 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. Most people do pay a premium for Part B. The premium amount depends on a number of factors including income and whether you receive other types of benefits.
While parts A and B may seem pretty comprehensive, you may find that original Medicare doesn’t provide enough coverage. For example, original Medicare doesn’t cover prescription drugs. There are significant “cost share” amounts members must pay when they receive care, including copayments, coinsurance, and deductibles. These can add up if you need to see a doctor frequently.
You have the option to purchase additional coverage from private insurance companies to help cover these gaps.
- Medicare supplement plans help pay costs original Medicare doesn’t cover such as copays, coinsurance, and deductibles. These plans sometimes are called Medigap plans.
- Medicare prescription drug plans, also called Part D, specifically help cover the costs of prescription drugs.
What about Medicare Advantage?
Medicare Advantage plans combine the components of original Medicare, supplemental coverage, and prescription drug plans into one neat package.
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.
The premiums you pay for Medicare Advantage plans are comparable to what you would pay for the various components of original Medicare put together, but you get all the same coverage through a single plan.
Medicare Advantage plans also generally include perks, such as fitness and wellness programs, member discounts, and more.
Medicare Advantage and Medicare Part D prescription drug plans are subject to change every year. Updated plan information for 2021 should become available on October 1, in advance of Medicare’s Annual Election Period beginning October 15. Healthline.com will provide updated 2021 plan information once it is announced by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS).
A number of private insurance companies offer Medicare Advantage plans in Alabama, including:
- Humana Insurance Company
- Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Alabama
- Viva Health Inc.
- HealthSpring Life & Health Insurance Company Inc.
- Arcadian Health Plan Inc.
- Sierra Health and Life Insurance Company Inc.
- UnitedHealthcare of Alabama Inc.
- Aetna Life Insurance Company
- Highmark Senior Health Company
- Simpra Advantage Inc.
- United Mine Workers of America Health & Retirement
- Cigna Health and Life Insurance Company
- Mercy Life of Alabama
- Anthem Insurance Companies Inc.
Note that these carriers are listed in order from highest to lowest Medicare enrollment in Alabama. Offerings also vary. Not all of these Alabama Medicare Advantage plans are available in every county.
Many people think of Medicare as just a health plan for seniors. While it’s true that Medicare provides healthcare coverage for people age 65 and older, it also serves people of any age who have certain disabilities or chronic conditions.
You may qualify for Medicare plans in Alabama if you:
You can apply for Medicare online starting three months before you turn 65. This is when your initial enrollment period begins. The initial Medicare enrollment period lasts from three months before your 65th birthday until three months after. But you don’t have to enroll in Medicare during this period.
There is an open enrollment period for Medicare every year from January 1 through March 31. During this period, anyone who is eligible for Medicare can enroll for the first time or can switch plans.
If you have access to an employer-sponsored group plan, you may choose to continue coverage under that plan rather than enrolling in Part B right away. In that case, you may be eligible for a special enrollment period later.
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 a Medicare plan in Alabama:
- Learn more about the Medicare Advantage plans in Alabama. The list of plan options above is a great place to start. Alternatively, you may prefer to work with an agent.
- If you or your spouse continue to be eligible for employer-sponsored care, see how your group plan options compare. Your benefits administrator at work may be able to help.
- Fill out the online application for Medicare available through the U.S. Social Security Administration.
The information on this website may assist you in making personal decisions about insurance, but it is not intended to provide advice regarding the purchase or use of any insurance or insurance products. Healthline Media does not transact the business of insurance in any manner and is not licensed as an insurance company or producer in any U.S. jurisdiction. Healthline Media does not recommend or endorse any third parties that may transact the business of insurance.