If you’re looking for a way to manage your Medicare costs in the Heart of Dixie, an Alabama Medicare Supplement plan might be right for you.
What Are Medicare Supplement Plans in Alabama?
Original Medicare doesn’t cap out-of-pocket expenses, and it doesn’t fully cover medical costs. That’s where Medigap comes in. It helps pay up to 100% of the costs that Original Medicare doesn’t cover, which are mostly coinsurance, copayments, and deductibles. Your Medigap insurance company typically sends payments directly to your healthcare provider to cover these costs. You must pay premiums to your Medigap provider on time (usually monthly) to keep your policy active.
Alabama Medicare Supplement plans come in 10 standard types: A, B, C, D, F, G, K, L, M, and N. You can’t buy Plan C or F if you were newly eligible for Medicare as of January 1, 2020. In most cases, you can enroll in Alabama Medicare Supplement plans if you’re 65 or older. Alabama doesn’t guarantee that companies have to sell policies to people under 65, who qualify for Medicare due to a disability or chronic condition.
What You Need to Know
Once you’re 65 and eligible for Medicare Part B, you can buy a Medigap policy.
Different insurers offer Medigap policies in Alabama. The letter plans are the same across insurers, but costs may vary.
Your Medigap Open Enrollment Period allows you to get the best price on a policy, which is guaranteed renewable as long as you pay premiums on time.
How Do You Choose a Medicare Supplement Plan in Alabama?
First, be sure you need an Alabama Medicare Supplement plan. Here are some things to think about:
- Do you have frequent doctor’s visits? Medicare Part B has a 20% coinsurance for doctor visits. Most Alabama Medicare Supplement plans cover 100% of your Part B coinsurance.
- Do you need or expect to need inpatient care at a hospital or skilled nursing facility? Most Medigap policies in Alabama pay up to 100% of your Part A coinsurance and deductible for inpatient care.
- Do you need to visit providers out of state? You can use your Medigap policy at any provider nationwide that accepts Medicare.
- Do you travel overseas often? Most Alabama Medigap policies cover qualified overseas emergency care.
- Have you compared costs from different insurance companies? All Medigap insurers that sell standard plans provide the same benefits, but prices for the same plan can vary. You should compare Medicare Supplement plans to find the best rates.
When Can You Enroll in Medigap?
More than 650,000 Alabamians have Original Medicare, which may include those who qualify for Medigap. You can apply for a policy at any time. But the best time to sign up is during your Medigap Open Enrollment Period (OEP), which is the first six months after you turn 65 and enroll in Part B. If you enroll during your OEP, insurance companies must accept you and they can’t charge you more because of your health.
Outside of your OEP, you usually must answer health questions (known as medical underwriting) to qualify for a policy. If you have health problems, companies can make you wait six months before covering any preexisting conditions, charge you more, or deny you coverage. However, these rules don’t apply if you have a guaranteed issue right to buy Medigap, meaning you have other creditable coverage that ends or changes in some way.
A Way to Save
Alabama Medicare Supplement plans can help you save money on Medicare Part A and B costs.
What Are the Most Popular Medigap Policies in Alabama?
Medicare Supplement Plans F, G, and N cover the majority of your expenses and are usually the most popular options.
- Plan F is the most comprehensive because it covers all your Part A and B out-of-pocket expenses. It’s usually the most expensive plan, unless you get the high-deductible version, which has lower premiums.
- Plan G covers everything that Plan F does, except for the Part B deductible ($198 in 2020). Plan G also has a high-deductible option that has lower premiums.
- Plan N covers nearly all your Medicare costs except for the Part B deductible and Part B excess charges.
How Much Do Alabama Medicare Supplement Plans Cost?
Alabama Medicare Supplement premiums vary by company and plan type. Monthly premiums for a 65-year-old, nonsmoking female are as follows:
- Plan F: $125 to $362
- High-deductible Plan F: $27 to $71
- Plan G: $101 to $327
- High-deductible Plan G: $27 to 471
- Plan N: $84 to $251
Who Sells Medicare Supplement Plans in Alabama?
There are more than two dozen Alabama Medicare Supplement insurance companies. Here are some of the most popular:
- Bankers Fidelity Assurance Company
- Colonial Penn
- Combined Insurance
- Continental Life Insurance Company of Brentwood, Tennessee (Aetna)
- Globe Life
- Omaha Insurance Company
- Pan-American Life Insurance Company
- United American Insurance Company
What If You Want to Change Your Alabama Medigap Policy?
All Alabama Medicare Supplement policies have a 30-day “free-look period” in which you can cancel your policy to enroll in another. Most insurers require that you keep your first policy active until the new one becomes effective, which may result in paying for two policies for one month.
However, the rules for enrolling in Medigap also apply to switching your policy. So insurers can use medical underwriting if you switch policies outside of a guaranteed issue circumstance. This means you could be denied coverage or pay higher premiums based on your health.
What Are Alternatives to Alabama Medigap Policies?
Medicare Advantage, or Part C, is another type of private health insurance that helps fill the gaps in Medicare. Roughly 37% (about 391,000) of Medicare beneficiaries in Alabama have a Medicare Advantage plan. Medicare Advantage plans provide Medicare Part A and B as well as benefits like prescription drug, dental, hearing, and vision coverage.
Medicare Advantage works much like an HMO or PPO plan. In exchange for comprehensive coverage, you’re restricted to in-network providers.
Keep in mind that you can’t have both Medigap and Medicare Advantage at the same time.
What Are Medicare Resources in Alabama?
- The Alabama Department of Insurance (ADI) oversees regulations for insurance products, agents, and companies. You can contact ADI if you want more information on Alabama Medicare Supplement laws or if you have any issues with an insurance agent or company.
- Alabama State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP) provides free counseling services and programs for Medicare beneficiaries.
- Medicaid and Medicare Savings Programs in Alabama are run by the state’s Medicaid office. If you qualify as low-income, you could get help paying your Medicare premiums, deductibles, and coinsurance.
- The Extra Help program from Social Security helps low-income Alabamians pay for Medicare Part D prescription drug costs.
Comparing Medicare Supplement Plans in Alabama
You can use this chart to compare Alabama Medicare Supplement plans.
Alabama Medicare Supplement plans can help you save money on Medicare Part A and B costs. If this coverage is a good fit for your needs and budget, reach out to the companies that provide Medigap to compare the details of what they offer.
1. U.S. Government Website for Medicare. “Choosing a Medigap Policy: A Guide to Health Insurance for People With Medicare.” medicare.gov (accessed September 23, 2020).
2. Alabama Department of Insurance. “Medicare Disability Supplement Insurance.” aldoi.gov (accessed September 30, 2020).
3. Kaiser Family Foundation. “Total Number of Medicare Beneficiaries.” kff.org (accessed September 23, 2020).
4. U.S. Government Website for Medicare. “Part B Costs.” medicare.gov (accessed September 23, 2020).
5. U.S. Government Website for Medicare. “Supplement Insurance (Medigap) Plans in Alabama.” medicare.gov (accessed September 29, 2020).