If you’re enrolled in Original Medicare, Part A and Part B, you may want to consider purchasing a Medicare Supplement (Medigap) plan. Medigap plans in Alabama (as in the rest of the United States) are available through private insurance companies, and they’re designed to help pay for out-of-pocket costs that you may incur under Original Medicare, like copayments, coinsurance, and deductibles. As an Alabama resident, you may have several Medigap plan options, depending on the zip code in which you live.
How Medigap plans work in Alabama
Medigap plans in Alabama, like those in the rest of the United States, help cover health-care costs associated with Original Medicare, Part A and Part B, such as copayments, coinsurance, plan deductibles, and other out-pocket expenses. In 47 states, there are 10 standardized plans labeled with one of 10 letters (A, B, C, D, F, G, K, L, M, and N), and all plans named with the same letter offer the same benefits. Three states – Massachusetts, Minnesota, and Wisconsin – offer different Medigap plans, rather than the 10 standardized plans available in Alabama and the rest of the country.
To enroll in a Medigap plan in Alabama, you must already be enrolled in Original Medicare, Part A and Part B. The best time to buy a Medigap plan is typically during your Medigap Open Enrollment Period. This six-month period starts the first day a beneficiary is age 65 or older and is also enrolled in Medicare Part B. During this time, you can sign up for any Medicare Supplement plan available in your part of Alabama, and you won’t be subject to medical underwriting or restrictions for any pre-existing conditions (waiting periods may apply in certain cases). This means that a company can neither deny you nor charge more for a Medicare Supplement plan.
You can apply for a Medigap policy anytime, even outside your Medigap Open Enrollment Period. But if you apply outside this time period, you may be denied coverage or charged more for the insurance policy.
Medigap plans do not offer prescription drug coverage, although some Medigap plans issued years ago had this coverage; if you still have such a plan, it will continue to cover prescription drugs. Otherwise, you may want to enroll in a stand-alone Medicare Part D Prescription Drug Plan to get help with prescription drug expenses. As in all states, Medicare Part D Prescription Drug Plans in Alabama are available through private insurance companies.
Also note that even if you sign up for a Medigap plan, you must remain enrolled in Original Medicare, Part A and Part B, and go on paying your Medicare Part B premium, to keep your Medicare coverage. Medigap plans are meant to supplement – not replace – Original Medicare.
Types of Medigap plans in Alabama
Here’s a look at the standard Medigap plans that may be available in Alabama. Not every plan is necessarily available throughout the state. In this chart, X indicates that the service (or item) is 100% covered; a percentage indicates what percent of the service/item is covered; and a blank cell indicates it is not covered.
|Medicare Supplement Plans|
|Medicare Supplement Benefits||A||B||C||D||F1||G2||K||L||M||N|
|Medicare Part A coinsurance and hospital costs up to an additional 365 days after Medicare benefits are exhausted||X||X||X||X||X||X||X||X||X||X|
|Medicare Part B copayment or coinsurance||X||X||X||X||X||X||50%||75%||X||X4|
|First three pints of blood||X||X||X||X||X||X||50%||75%||X||X|
|Medicare Part A hospice care coinsurance or copayment||X||X||X||X||X||X||50%||75%||X||X|
|Skilled nursing facility care coinsurance||X||X||X||X||50%||75%||X||X|
|Medicare Part A deductible||X||X||X||X||X||50%||75%||50%||X|
|Medicare Part B deductible||X||X|
|Medicare Part B excess charges||X||X|
|Foreign travel emergency coverage (up to plan limits)||80%||80%||80%||80%||80%||80%|
|Out-of-pocket limits apply3|
1As of January 1, 2020 people new to Medicare can’t buy plans that cover the Medicare Part B deductible. This means that Medicare Supplement Plans C and F will no longer be available to new Medicare enrollees. However, if you already have a Plan C, Plan F, or high-deductible Plan F, you can keep it. If you were eligible for Medicare before January 1, 2020, you also may be able to buy Medicare Supplement Plan C, F, or high-deductible Plan F.
2For those newly eligible after Jan. 1, 2020, Plan G will offer a high deductible option.
3Once you reach the out-of-pocket limits (including the Part B deductible), both Medicare Supplement Plans K and L pay 100% of covered services in the above chart for the remainder of the calendar year.
4Medicare Supplement Plan N pays 100% of the Medicare Part B coinsurance, except for a copayment of up to $20 on doctor visits and up to $50 on emergency room visits that don’t result in an inpatient admission.
Choosing a suitable Medigap plan in Alabama
As stated earlier, Medicare Supplement plans with the same letter designation don’t vary in coverage or benefits. However, each independent insurance company offering Medicare Supplement plans can determine its own monthly premium structure. Thus, a resident of Birmingham in Jefferson County may pay more or less than a resident of Montgomery in Montgomery County for an identical Medicare Supplement plan. It may be smart to compare all Medicare Supplement plans in Alabama that are available to you, and then make a selection based on your individual health needs and budget. Just enter your zip code in the form on this page to start comparing Medigap plans.