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Medicare in Alaska

 

October 6, 2016

Are you an Alaska resident who needs information about Medicare coverage? Plan Prescriber has information on the different parts of Medicare, including Medicare Advantage plans, Medicare Part D (prescription drug coverage), and Medicare Supplement plans. Discover what’s available for you in your area.

Original Medicare for Alaska beneficiaries

The federally administered health insurance program called Original Medicare, Part A and Part B, is available in Alaska as in other states.

Medicare Part A primarily provides hospital and hospice coverage, while Part B provides coverage for doctor visits, medical equipment, and many preventive services. For most people who have worked at least 10 years (40 quarters) and paid Medicare taxes, Part A is premium-free. Part B usually has a monthly premium. Other costs may include copayments, coinsurance, and deductibles.

Many people enroll (or are automatically enrolled) in Original Medicare when they’re first eligible at age 65. You’ll have an Initial Enrollment Period, which generally begins three months before you turn 65, includes the month you turn 65, and ends three months later. If you wait and sign up for Medicare after this time, you may have to pay late-enrollment penalties.

If you’re still working at age 65 and have employer health insurance (or you have coverage through your spouse’s employment), you could delay enrolling in Part B and avoid paying a premium for benefits you don’t need. Then, when you (or your spouse) retire, you may be able to sign up for Medicare Part B during a Special Enrollment Period. You won’t have to pay a late enrollment penalty if you enroll in Part B during this eight-month period if you qualify for it.

You may qualify for Medicare before age 65 if you’ve been receiving Social Security Administration or certain Railroad Retirement Board disability benefits for at least 24 straight months.  If you have Lou Gehrig’s disease or end-stage renal disease, you might also qualify for Medicare before age 65.

You may have to pay a higher premium for Medicare Part A and/or Part B if you didn’t sign up when you were first eligible and you didn’t have a Special Enrollment Period. You can enroll in Medicare Part A and/or Part B during the General Enrollment Period that runs from January 1 to March 31 every year.

Alaska residents, like those in other states, who are not automatically enrolled can enroll in Original Medicare (Part A and Part B) in the following ways:

  • By visiting the Social Security website.
  • By calling Social Security at 1-800-772-1213. If you are a TTY user, you can dial 1-800-325-0778. Social Security can be reached Monday through Friday, from 7AM to 7PM.
  • By visiting a local Social Security website. Find Social Security offices in Alaska here.

If you worked for a railroad, call the Railroad Retirement Board to sign up for your Medicare benefits at 1-877-772-5772, Monday through Friday, from 9AM to 3:30PM. TTY users can call 1-312-751-4701.

Medicare plan options in Alaska

In most U.S. states, residents usually have three types of Medicare plan options: Medicare Advantage (Medicare Part C), Medicare Part D (prescription drug coverage), and Medicare Supplement (Medigap) plans. Most kinds of Medicare Advantage plans aren’t available in Alaska.

Medicare Supplement insurance, also called Medigap, plans may help pay for some of your out-of-pocket costs under Original Medicare, including cost-sharing expenses and emergency overseas travel coverage. Plan benefits are standardized across 10 plan types (labeled letters A through N), and each plan includes different benefits and level of coverage. In 47 states, including Alaska, Medigap plans offer the same standardized benefits for plans of the same letter type.

These plans can only be used to help with Original Medicare costs, and you’ll need to stay enrolled in Part A and Part B for your hospital and medical coverage. In addition, keep in mind that prescription drug coverage isn’t included in these plans, so if you want help with your medication costs, you should enroll in a stand-alone Medicare Prescription Drug Plan.

Specific plan types and premium amounts may vary depending on where you live in the state. Note that some companies may offer additional innovative benefits.

Medicare prescription drug coverage (Part D) is available for Alaska beneficiaries – you can enroll in a stand-alone Medicare Part D Prescription Drug Plan. Available from private insurance companies that contract with Medicare, this coverage works alongside your Original Medicare benefits to help pay for prescription medications. Each plan has its own formulary, or drug list, that states which prescriptions are covered and what your cost-sharing would be. The plan may change its formulary each year or at any time. You will receive notice from your plan when necessary.

To get an overview of how Medicare works in Alaska and to learn what plans might be available, see:

Medicare.gov and the State of Alaska have further information that may be helpful for Alaska residents:

 

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