Medicare Advantage Plans in Alabama
Medicare Advantage Plans in Alabama are operated by private insurance companies and offer a few key benefits that distinguish them from Parts A and B of the Original Medicare system. While Part A covers inpatient care at a hospital and Part B covers services like doctor visits, preventive screenings, and durable medical equipment, Medicare Advantage Plans may provide extra perks. These can include dental coverage, routine vision exams, or discounted gym memberships. (Please note: not all insurance companies will offer these additional benefits.)
Another significant benefit to a Medicare Advantage plan is the out-of-pocket limit, which protects you against the potentially unlimited shared costs associated with having Original Medicare alone.
Before choosing your plan, it is essential to explore the options available from various insurers in your county. You will also want to search for a plan whose network includes the healthcare providers and facilities you currently use, so that your medical care can continue uninterrupted. With a thorough understanding of the coverages and limitations available to you, you can make the best decision for your individual healthcare needs.
- There are 108 Medicare Advantage Plans available to Alabamians in 2023.
- Every enrollee of Medicare in Alabama will have access to a $0 monthly premium plan option.
- On average, premiums for a standard Medicare Advantage Plan will be $11.24/month next year, down from $11.99.
- Forty-three plans offer benefits not typically found with Original Medicare, like wellness and health care planning services, reduced cost-sharing solutions, and rewards & incentives programs.
Medicare Advantage Companies in Alabama
Compare star ratings and market share of some of the most popular Medicare Advantage providers in Alabama:
UnitedHealth Group, Inc.
Network Health, Inc.
Medica Holding Company
Blue Cross and Blue Shield in Wisconsin - Anthem Inc.
Aetna - CVS Health Corporation
Average Star Rating
AM Best Rating
Market Share and AM Best Rating - CSG Actuarial
Average Star Rating - reportcards.ncqa.org
What Do Medicare Advantage Plans Cover?
Medicare Advantage Plans cover all the benefits of Original Medicare Part A (hospital insurance) and Part B (medical insurance), and Part D (prescription drug coverage). They often also have extra benefits that aren't included in Original Medicare.
Advantage Plans cover:
Medically necessary outpatient services, such as:
- Doctor’s visits
- Ambulance services
- Emergency and urgent care
- Durable medical equipment (DME)
- Mental health care
- Laboratory tests
Preventive services, such as:
- Cancer screenings
- Diabetes screenings
- Depression screenings
Depending on the plan you choose, other benefits may include:
- Prescription drug coverage
- Regular eye exams with glasses coverage
- Routine dental check-ups
- OTC medication
- Yearly hearing tests with hearing aid discounts
- Fitness and wellness programs/discounts
- Transportation to required medical care
Types of Medicare Advantage Plans in Alabama
In Alabama, there are four varieties of plans available through the Medicare Advantage program: HMO, PPO, PFFS, and SNP.
Health Maintenance Organization (HMO) - You will need to receive all services from providers who are in the network. This includes:
- Primary care physicians
- Referrals for specialists
- Prior authorizations for treatments and some prescriptions
- Drug coverage is usually included with this type of plan, so you do not need to purchase a standalone drug coverage.
- The upside to this policy is that costs tend to be lower if you stay within the network of approved providers.
Preferred provider organization (PPO) - You will have a network of preferred providers, but you can see doctors or hospitals outside the network for additional costs. You don’t need to designate a primary care doctor or get specialist referrals.
- Drug coverage is usually included in these plans.
- You cannot purchase stand-alone drug coverage with PPOs.
- The drawback to this type of plan is that there are higher premiums and out-of-network costs.
Private fee-for-service (PFFS) - PFFS plans don’t require a primary care physician or referrals for specialists.
- Here's how it works: you can go to any Medicare-approved healthcare provider or facility that accepts the plan’s payment terms and agrees to treat you. It's important to know that some providers may not agree to the plan's terms, which could result in higher out-of-pocket costs for you.
- Another thing to remember is that these types of plans may include drug coverage, or you can purchase a standalone drug plan.
Special needs plan (SNP) - SNPs are for people with pre-existing conditions or other specific health needs. They include care coordination and benefits that target your individualized needs, such as:
- You will be assigned a Primary Care Physician (PCP) and referrals to any specialists you may need.
- All of your drugs will be covered under this insurance plan.
- If you believe you meet the criteria for an SNP, you can enroll at any time throughout the year.
Your network's care providers' levels of flexibility differ between each type and the price. Although all Medicare Advantage Plans cover the same services provided in Original Medicare, you may be required to pay a higher premium for extra benefits.
What Does it Cost?
There are four costs to consider:
- The Medicare Part B premium - you will still have to pay your Part B premium after buying an Advantage plan. The 2023 premium is $164.90 per month, but some Advantage plans will cover this premium if it is included in the benefits.
- Monthly premium - many Advantage plans have no monthly premium, but several of them do, so always make sure to check. Premiums vary by provider.
- Deductible - the varying amount that you have to pay out-of-pocket before your Advantage plan starts covering your care.
- Copays and coinsurance - what your Advantage plan charges you each time you see a medical provider.
When Am I Eligible?
To be eligible for an Alabama Medicare Advantage Plan, you must first be enrolled in Parts A and B of Original Medicare. You also cannot have a Medigap policy. If you're 65 or older, or if you receive disability benefits from Social Security or the Railroad Retirement Board (RRB), then you qualify for enrollment. However, two groups can enroll at any age: those with End-Stage Renal Disease (ESRD), and those with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).
When Can I Sign Up?
There are three periods when you can enroll:
- The Initial Coverage Election Period is when you become eligible. This includes the three months before your 65th birthday, the month of your birthday, and the three months following. If you have a disability, this period will occur during your 25th month of receiving benefits.
- The Annual Election Period is the time of year when you can switch your Medicare coverage. If enrolled in Original Medicare, you can switch to a Medicare Advantage Plan during this period. If you're already enrolled in a Medicare Advantage Plan, you can shop around and switch to another plan that better meets your needs during this time. The Annual Election Period runs from October 15 to December 7 each year.
- The Open Enrollment Period is the time of year when you can change your Medicare Advantage Plan or go back to Original Medicare. This period takes place between January 1 and March 31.
Medicare allows for a special enrollment period under extraordinary circumstances, such as job loss or moving to an area where your current carrier does not service.
How to Choose a Medicare Advantage Plan in Alabama
When choosing a plan, you should consider the following before buying:
Provider Network: To keep costs down, ensure your doctors, hospitals, and pharmacies are all in-network.
Out-of-pocket max: Following the plan's rules for in and out-of-network coverage, this is the most you'll spend on Medicare-covered services, besides your premium, deductible, and drug costs.
Deductibles, coinsurance & copays: Cost-sharing expenses are charged when you use your benefits. Review your plan to see what it costs for doctor’s visits, services, treatments, and prescription drugs.
Drug coverage/formulary: Use the plan's formulary to see if your drugs are covered and how much they cost per prescription. You might want to discuss generic or alternative options with your doctor.
Additional benefits: In addition to basic coverage, think about what other benefits are most important. For example, many plans require using network providers and may have additional charges for more comprehensive protection.
Ready to Learn More?
We help educate Medicare beneficiaries on their options and help them go through the process of reviewing and comparing plans. We work with most of the nation's top-rated insurance carriers, such as Aetna, Cigna, Mutual of Omaha, and Florida Blue. So, give us a call today, or request a quote online to learn more.
Your local State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP) can help you understand your options. Additionally, you can visit www.medicare.gov or call 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227) for more information.
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