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Medicare in Alabama

October 6, 2016

Medicare beneficiaries in Alabama may be able to decide on Medicare coverage beyond Original Medicare, Part A and Part B. Beneficiaries enrolled in Medicare might have access to private Medicare plan options, such as Medicare Advantage, Medicare Part D Prescription Drug Plans, and Medicare Supplement insurance. These plans are described in greater detail below, although it is worth noting that plan availability, costs, and coverage details can vary.

Original Medicare for Alabama beneficiaries

Medicare Part A and Part B together are sometimes referred to as Original Medicare. This combination refers to the health insurance program created and administered by the federal government. Part A is hospital insurance, and Part B is medical insurance. Part B may cover doctor/physician services, preventive care, and durable medical equipment. Certain out-of-pocket costs, such as coinsurance and deductibles, may apply to Part A and Part B coverage. Original Medicare doesn’t typically cover your prescription medications but may cover them if administered during an impatient Medicare approved hospital stay.

Original Medicare is available to eligible beneficiaries in any state in the U.S., including Alabama. You may be enrolled automatically into the program at the age of 65, provided you’re receiving retirement benefits through either the Social Security Administration (SSA) or the Railroad Retirement Board (RRB). Those who receive SSA disability benefits, or certain RRB disability benefits, for 24 consecutive months can enroll for Medicare before age 65. You may also qualify for Medicare before age 65 if you have end-stage renal disease (ESRD) or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).

If you don’t get enrolled automatically, you can sign up during your Initial Enrollment Period (IEP). For most people, this seven-month period begins three months before you turn 65, includes the month you turn 65, and ends three months after that. If you don’t sign up during the IEP, you can enroll during the annual General Enrollment Period (January 1 through March 31), but you might pay late-enrollment penalties the entire time you are enrolled.

If you delay enrollment in Medicare Part A or Part B–for example, if you’re over 65 and still working and covered by your employer’s plan–you might be eligible for a Special Enrollment Period. This is a time when you can enroll in Part A or Part B without a penalty even though your IEP has passed.

Beneficiaries in Alabama can also apply for Medicare manually by visiting their local SSA office or by registering online. They can also do so over the phone:

  • Call Social Security at 1-800-772-1213. TTY users should call 1-800-325-0778. Social Security representatives are available Monday through Friday, from 7AM to 7PM.
  • If you worked for a railroad, call the RRB at 1-877-772-5772. TTY users can call 1-312-751-4701. RRB representatives are available Monday through Friday, from 9AM to 3:30PM.

Once enrollment is complete, the red, white, and blue Medicare card arrives in the mail approximately three months before coverage begins. A “Welcome to Medicare” packet arrives at the same time, detailing your coverage.

Medicare private insurance in Alabama

There are other types of Medicare insurance available to Alabama beneficiaries besides Original Medicare.

  • Medicare Advantage plans are offered by private companies that contract with Medicare to provide Part A and Part B benefits Even if you enroll in one of these plans, you remain enrolled in Part A and Part B (although your coverage comes through the Medicare Advantage plan), and you must continue paying your Part B premium. Medicare Advantage plans must provide your Part A and Part B coverage (save for hospice care, which remains covered through Medicare Part A). Medicare Advantage plans may also include prescription drug coverage. These are known as Medicare Advantage Prescription Drug plans (MAPDs). With an MAPD, all of your Medicare coverage is under one plan. You can sign up for Medicare Advantage plan when you’re first eligible for Medicare, or during the Annual Election Period. This runs from October 15 to December 7 each year, and you can also switch Medicare Advantage plans, or drop the plan and return to Original Medicare.
  • If you decide to stay with Original Medicare, another option you may have is to sign up for a Medicare Supplement (Medigap) plan to help pay for Original Medicare’s out-of-pocket costs. Different Medigap plans pay for different amounts of those costs, such as copayments, coinsurance, and deductibles.
  • Medicare Part D is prescription drug coverage. To get this benefit, you must have Medicare Part A and/or Medicare Part B. Each stand-alone Medicare Part D Prescription Drug Plan has a formulary, which is a list of prescription medications covered by that plan. Formulary details are likely to vary by plan, as will pricing. The formulary may change at any time. You will receive notice from your plan when necessary.

Before signing up for a Medicare plan, you may want to compare all available plans in your area to find one that may suit your needs.

Alabama resources for Medicare beneficiaries

  • Learning everything about Medicare can be a daunting task, but it’s one you don’t have to do alone. Medicare.gov has supplied a list of available resources to assist you with questions. Here are the most relevant items in the list below:
  • State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP): Toll-free number 1-800-243-5463 | Local 1-334-242-5743 | Monday through Friday, 8AM to 5PM ET |Website
  • National Institute on Aging Information Center: Toll-free number 1-800-222-2225 | TTY users call 1-800-222-4225 | Monday through Friday, 8:30AM to 5PM ET |Website

Learn more about how Medicare plans work in Alabama, including:

 

Medicare Supplement insurance plans are not connected with or endorsed by the U.S. government or the federal Medicare program.