Medicare in Alabama
This article was updated on: 09/16/2018
Whether you’re new to Medicare or are considering other coverage options, you may have many Medicare insurance options available, depending on where you live. Learn about the different ways you can get Medicare coverage in Alabama.
About Medicare in Alabama
Original Medicare is the federal health insurance program for people 65 and older. Some people may be eligible for Medicare before 65 if they receive disability benefits or have certain conditions, like end-stage renal disease or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease).
If you live in Alabama and have Original Medicare (Part A and Part B), your coverage will work the same as it does in any state. Medicare Part A generally covers your hospitalization, such as inpatient care you receive in a hospital, skilled nursing facility, nursing home (as long as custodial care isn’t the only care you need) or hospice setting. Medicare Part B covers medically necessary and preventive services like outpatient care, annual wellness exams, doctor’s visits, and durable medical equipment. Keep in mind that because Original Medicare doesn’t include prescription drug benefits, you must enroll in a prescription drug plan under Medicare Part D if you want this coverage.
Types of Medicare coverage in Alabama
Besides Original Medicare, Medicare beneficiaries may consider some of their other Medicare insurance plan options as well. Certain types of coverage, such as prescription drug benefits or supplemental coverage, are only available through Medicare-approved insurance companies. Alternatively, you may decide to get your Original Medicare benefits through a Medicare plan option, like Medicare Advantage, through a private Medicare-approved insurance company. Availability of Medicare plan options varies by location.
Here are some of the Medicare plan options you may have as an Alabama resident:
Medicare Advantage (Medicare Part C): Medicare Advantage plans are required to provide the same coverage as Original Medicare, Part A and Part B. Some may have additional benefits, such as routine vision and dental, health and wellness programs, and prescription drug coverage. You must continue paying your Medicare Part B premium if you enroll in a Medicare Advantage plan.
Medicare prescription drug coverage (Medicare Part D): If you have Original Medicare, you can get prescription drug coverage through a stand-alone Medicare prescription drug plan (PDP). This coverage works alongside Original Medicare, Part A and Part B. If you have Medicare Advantage, you’d enroll in a plan that includes prescription drug benefits, also known as a Medicare Advantage Prescription Drug (MA-PD) plan.
Medicare Supplement (Medigap): Alabama residents enrolled in Medicare Part A and Part B may choose to join a Medicare Supplement plan to cover “gaps” in their health-care costs like copayments and deductibles. Medicare-approved insurers may offer up to 10 standardized Medigap policy options, each one marked with a letter. In most states, including Alabama, plans of the same letter offer the same benefits no matter which insurance company offers the plan. Medigap coverage only works with Original Medicare; you can’t use these benefits to pay for Medicare Advantage costs.
Local Medicare resources in Alabama
Medicare Savings Programs: Financial assistance with Medicare costs may be available for Alabama residents who meet certain conditions. Medicare Savings Programs can help with out-of-pocket Medicare costs like premiums, copayments, coinsurance, and deductibles. To apply, contact your state Medicaid office.
Alabama State Health Insurance Counseling and Assistance Program (SHIP): SHIP coordinators are available to help beneficiaries with questions about Medicare and health coverage. To find a SHIP counselor, visit SHIPtalk.org.
How to apply for Medicare in Alabama
If you’re enrolling in Original Medicare, enrollment is the same in any state. To qualify for Medicare, you must be either a United States citizen or a legal permanent resident of at least five continuous years. Alabama residents may be automatically enrolled in the program once they reach age 65, provided they already receive benefits through the Social Security Administration or the Railroad Retirement Board. Some people also qualify for automatic enrollment before age 65 if they receive disability benefits for 24 consecutive months.
If you are not enrolled automatically, then you may do so manually when you’re first eligible for Medicare through Social Security or the Railroad Retirement Board, if you worked for a railroad. You have a seven-month Initial Enrollment Period to enroll in Part A and/or Part B: three months before you turn 65, the month you turn 65, and three months after you turn 65. To apply:
- Visit the Social Security website.
- Call Social Security at 1-800-772-1213 (TTY users should call 1-800-325-0778), Monday through Friday, 7AM to 7PM.
- Contact the Railroad Retirement Board, if you worked for a railroad, at 1-877-772-5772 (TTY users call 312-751-4701), Monday through Friday, 9AM to 3:30PM.
If you do not sign up for Medicare when you are first eligible for it, you may face a financial penalty for late enrollment.
Enrollment through private insurance companies approved by Medicare is different, and you have a few options if you’re looking for a Medicare Advantage, Medigap, or Medicare prescription drug plan. You can apply through Medicare or directly through the insurance company. Or, you can use a plan comparison tool like the one on Medicare.com, in order to view more than one plan side by side.
Medicare plans like Medicare Advantage may have lower costs than Original Medicare, depending on the plan. Or, you may decide to stay in Original Medicare and enroll in a Medigap plan to offset some of your out-of-pocket costs. If you need help figuring out your options, that’s what I’m here for. Take a look at my profile to find out why I enjoy helping people with their Medicare coverage. Then, if you like, I can talk with you one-on-one over the phone or email you some information on Medicare plan options in your area. Of course, if you’re ready to view plans now, you can always use our Compare Plans button to see what’s available in your location.