The senior-to-hospital ratio of Tuscaloosa, Alabama, is a wonderful 1,937 to 1. Compare that to big cities like New York, which has a senior-to-hospital ratio of a whopping 103,839 to 1, and you can easily see one of the greatest benefits to retiring in Tuscaloosa. Unfortunately, not everybody in town has access to insurance that reliably covers that healthcare. If you’re reliant on Original Medicare to meet your healthcare needs, then you are most likely already quite familiar with Medicare coverage gaps. If you’re not careful, these gaps in your coverage can end up forcing you to pay thousands of dollars in out-of-pocket costs every single year, a number that can rise significantly over time. Fortunately, there are two ways of avoiding these costly coverage gaps: you can enroll in a Medicare Advantage plan or a Medicare Supplement insurance plan.

Facts and Figures

  • There are 11,627 seniors living in Tuscaloosa right now.
  • There are 6 hospitals in the Tuscaloosa area where seniors can get emergency and/or in-patient care.
  • 36% of Alabama seniors have a Medicare Advantage plan.
  • 25% of Alabama seniors have a Medicare Supplement (Medigap) plan.
  • Which leaves 39% of seniors potentially uninsured or underinsured against costly Medicare coverage gaps!

Alabama in general is one of the better-covered states when it comes to health insurance. That being said, more than 4,500 seniors still lack the level of insurance that they need in order to enjoy reliable access to the affordable healthcare that they both need and deserve. If you’re among the two-fifths seniors in the Tuscaloosa area to whom this applies, then there are a couple more things that you need to know. As you age, your health deteriorates. While it is not the same for everybody, most seniors suffer an increase in symptoms caused or exacerbated by age-related illnesses. Most seniors also notice that their existing symptoms begin to worsen in both frequency and severity, further increasing the need for treatment. The chart below lists a small number of the most prevalent age-related illnesses in the senior population of the Tuscaloosa area.

Disease Prevalence in Tuscaloosa, AL
Arthritis 27%
High Blood Pressure 35%
Coronary Heart Disease 6%
Diabetes 11%
Kidney Disease 3%

Healthcare Costs in Tuscaloosa, AL

As you can expect, an increased need for treatment equals an increase in healthcare costs. The more you need to see your doctors and the more invasive your treatments need to become, the more you’re going to have to rely on your insurance. For beneficiaries of Original Medicare, that means the more you’re going to have to contend with Medicare coverage gaps. Even if you somehow prevent your symptoms from increasing in number, frequency, and severity, you will most likely still be paying more each passing year. That’s because medical costs are rising for a variety of factors. Although economists can’t agree on what is causing medical costs to increase, they can agree on one thing: increased medical costs mean increased healthcare costs for you and increased out-of-pocket expenses for everybody trapped in the Medicare coverage gaps.

Disease Prevalence in Tuscaloosa, AL Annual Cost of Treatment
Arthritis 27% $294
High Blood Pressure 35% $356
Coronary Heart Disease 6% $8,785
Diabetes 11% $2,173
Kidney Disease 3% $7,500

Medicare Advantage Savings in Tuscaloosa, AL

Medicare Advantage plans are privately managed plans that entirely replace your Original Medicare plan, but that doesn’t mean that you’re going to lose benefits when you switch over. In fact, the opposite is often the case. The government requires that all providers of Medicare Advantage plans provide, at the very least, the same level of coverage as can be found in Original Medicare. However, most providers go well above and beyond that limitation. In exchange for paying a little bit extra each month, you can enjoy a significantly expanded array of coverage options and benefits. Since the government tends to foot all or most of that bill for you, you can actually end up paying $0 per payment period while increasing your coverage options.

Many seniors in the Tuscaloosa area choose to enroll in the prescription drug coverage benefits of Medicare Advantage plans. Medicare Advantage prescription drug coverage benefits vary from provider to provider, as you might expect. That being said, they are often so comprehensive as to cover just about every last one of your prescription needs. That means that, if you rely on a large number of prescription medications and Medicare Part D prescription drug coverage doesn’t cut it, you could potentially save money by switching to a Medicare Advantage prescription drug coverage plan. Since these plans also tend to cover medical necessities like glucose monitors and testing strips, you can save even more money. For seniors suffering from arthritis, high blood pressure, and/or diabetes, the savings over the five- and ten- year periods can really add up over time.

Another perk to having a Medicare Advantage plan is the fact that you can add vision and dental care coverage directly to your plan. In contrast, neither Original Medicare nor Medicare Supplement Insurance provide the same options. In order to obtain coverage regarding your vision and dental needs while on either of these two other plans, you’ll have to look elsewhere. Moreover, the benefits to be found in Medicare Advantage vision and dental care coverage are significantly greater than those to be found in either Original Medicare or Medicare Supplement Insurance.

Medicare Supplement (Medigap) Savings in Tuscaloosa, AL

Medicare Supplement Insurance is so-called because it supplements your Original Medicare insurance plan rather than replacing it like Medicare Advantage does. The name Medigap also comes from the function of this insurance plan. All in all, there are ten Medigap plan types that function to protect you against the costly Medicare coverage gaps that have brought you to this article in the first place. For example, each of the ten available plan types provides some kind of benefit related to Medicare Part A coverage gaps, which tend to pose monumental financial burdens for seniors suffering from age-related heart and/or kidney disease. To help you better understand exactly what it is that these plans do, we have divided them into two categories based on their individual functions.

The first category of Medicare Supplement insurance plans includes the plans that provide coverage for Medicare Part A coverage gaps and the related expenses but not anything else. That means that you could enjoy worry-free access to hospitalizations, blood transfusions, and skilled nursing care, as well as just about every other aspect of Medicare Part A coverage. However, if you also or only have been paying out-of-pocket expenses related to Medicare Part B, you will most likely not be satisfied with one of the more limited plans in this category.

The remaining Medicare Supplement plan types (B, C, F, G, M, and N) fall into the second category, which covers both Medicare Part A coverage gaps as well as Medicare Part B coverage gaps. These plan types can enable you to enjoy access to just about every aspect of Original Medicare without having to worry about how you’re going to pay for the otherwise extreme out-of-pocket costs. That being said, not every one of these plans are going to last forever. For example, Medigap Plan F is going to be discontinued at the end of 2020, meaning that you’ll have to enroll in a similar plan in order to receive similar benefits come 2021 if you can’t enroll before the deadline at the end of the year.

In order to obtain prescription drug, vision, and/or dental care coverage while on a Medigap plan type, there are a few things you have to do. Fortunately, both processes are incredibly simple and straightforward. For prescription drug coverage, you can enroll in Medicare Part D prescription drug coverage. This plan tends to provide a wide variety of coverage options that are great for most seniors, though it does pose the risk of an additional coverage gap for seniors who rely on a large number of prescription medications. For vision and dental care coverage, you can enroll in a private plan like one of those provided by any number of insurers in the Tuscaloosa area. Best of all, private vision and dental insurance plans don’t require you to wait through an open-enrollment period, meaning that you can enroll in them at any time of the year.

As medical costs continue to rise alongside your increasing risk of developing new or worsening symptoms as a result of age-related illnesses, it is more important than ever to take the time to ensure that your insurance is up to par. The longer you wait, the longer you risk falling prey to the costly out-of-pocket expenses of Medicare coverage gaps. So don’t wait a second longer! Log onto today and get started shopping for the plan that is right for you.

Medigap Plan Minimum Monthly Premium Maximum Monthly Premium Average Estimated Monthly Premium (Part B Premium Included)
Plan A $72 $140 $242
Plan B $103 $170 $272
Plan C $116 $208 $298
Plan D $109 $164 $272
Plan F $102 $194 $284
Plan F (high deductible) $27 $56 $177
Plan G $99 $165 $268
Plan K $43 $86 $200
Plan L $72 $120 $232
Plan M $105 $126 $251
Plan N $79 $149 $250
by Lindsay Malzone, Lindsay Malzone is the Medicare expert for She's been contributing to many well-known publications as an industry expert since 2017. Her passion is educating Medicare beneficiaries on all their supplemental Medicare options so they can make an informed decision on their healthcare coverage.