Huntsville, Alabama is a lovely place to live. There are plenty of places to relax, great restaurants, and the beautiful southern countryside. But when it comes to Medicare and securing reliable access to affordable healthcare, Huntsville is not a great place to be. Medicare coverage gaps can affect you regardless of where you live; but life in Huntsville makes it easier to get caught up in the costly coverage gaps . To resolve this difficulty, more and more seniors in the Huntsville area are switching to Medicare Advantage and Medicare Supplement (Medigap) insurance plans with each passing day. Let’s take a closer look at some facts and figures to get a better understanding of what exactly is going on.
Facts and Figures
- There are 31,490 senior citizens living in Huntsville right now
- There are 10 hospitals in the Huntsville area where seniors can get emergency and/or in-patient care
- 36% of Alabama seniors have a Medicare Advantage plan
- 25% of seniors have a Medicare Supplement (Medigap) plan
- Which leaves 39% of seniors potentially uninsured or underinsured against costly Medicare coverage gaps!
Just over a third of all seniors in Huntsville lack the proper level of insurance necessary to guarantee them reliable access to affordable healthcare. That means that one out of every three seniors in the Huntsville area lacks the ability to seek treatment without having to pay large sums of money due to the Medicare coverage gaps. If you’re one of those seniors, there’s some more bad news. The more you age, the more likely you are to develop new symptoms. Whether that means more symptoms related to your existing conditions or symptoms related to an entirely new diagnosis depends on your personal circumstances. Unfortunately, even as your risk of developing a new age-related illness increases, so too do the frequency and severity of many of your existing symptoms. According to the data below, more than one third of all seniors in Huntsville, Alabama currently suffer from at least one age-related illness.
|Disease||Prevalence in Huntsville|
|High Blood Pressure||38%|
|Coronary Heart Disease||7%|
Healthcare Costs in Huntsville, AL
As you develop new conditions and the frequency and severity of the symptoms of your existing conditions worsen, so too will your healthcare costs. At the simplest level, that’s because your need for newer and better treatments will increase alongside your general need to see the doctor more often. On a more complex level, that’s because medical costs are rising across the board. Regardless of whether or not you find yourself seeing the doctor more next year, your healthcare costs will most likely be higher than they were the year before. The bright side of these improvements to the healthcare industry is that seniors are now capable of living longer lives than ever before. Unfortunately, that also means that there will be more time in your life for your symptoms to worsen and your healthcare costs to increase. The estimates in the chart below show just how much you might be paying in Medicare coverage gaps per illness.
|Disease||Prevalence in Huntsville||Annual Cost of Treatment|
|High Blood Pressure||38%||$356|
|Coronary Heart Disease||7%||$8,455|
Medicare Advantage Savings in Huntsville, AL
More than one-third of all seniors in Huntsville have already enrolled in a Medicare Advantage plan, which is a private insurance plan provided by a private business in order to replace your Original Medicare plan. Since the government requires that all providers of Medicare Advantage plans provide the same basic level of coverage benefits as Original Medicare, you won’t have to worry about losing any of your favorite coverage options. In fact, many providers of Medicare Advantage plans also offer the option to add additional coverage options directly to your insurance plan in exchange for paying higher premiums each month. Granted, the government is typically willing to pay all or most of your premiums, meaning that it’s possible to enjoy all of the additional benefits that Medicare Advantage plans have to offer while bearing none of the costs.
If you happen to be suffering from age-related arthritis, high blood pressure, or diabetes, the savings can be even greater. Through the purchase of prescription drug coverage and minor medical equipment coverage, you can obtain affordable access to healthcare necessities including glucose monitors and testing kits at little or no out-of-pocket cost, depending on your particular provider. These plans can be particularly desirable if you take a number of prescription medications that are too numerous or expensive to be affordably covered by Medicare Part D prescription drug coverage. As the graph below shows, the benefits over the five- and ten-year periods can be incredibly valuable.
To save even more money, you can add vision and dental care coverage directly to your Medicare Advantage plan. This is one of the key benefits of having an insurance plan that is privately provided. Neither Medicare Supplement Insurance nor Original Medicare insurance are capable of providing this benefit. In fact, neither of those two plans offer much benefit whatsoever when it comes to either vision or dental care coverage. For the most part, in order to obtain vision or dental treatments while on one of those two plans, you will have to have your physician label that treatment as a “medically necessary” or “emergency” procedure. With a Medicare Advantage plan, however, you can simply schedule an appointment and receive the treatment as easily as that.
Medicare Supplement (Medigap) Savings in Huntsville, AL
More than 7,800 of the seniors living in Huntsville have enrolled in a Medicare Supplement insurance plan in order to meet their healthcare needs. Whereas Medicare Advantage plans completely replace your existing Medicare coverage, Medicare Supplement Insurance plans function solely to expand on the benefits provided by Original Medicare in order to protect you from the coverage gaps. In fact, that’s where the name “Medigap” comes from. In general, these plans are designed primarily to provide financial support related to the expenses of Medicare Part A coverage gaps, which can be particularly costly for seniors suffering from chronic age-related conditions such as heart disease and kidney disease. That said, each of the ten plans comes with its own costs and benefits. Before you make the decision on which plan is right for you, be sure to consider all of the specifics and speak with an expert first.
The first group of Medicare Supplement plans that you should know about are Medigap plans A, D, K, and L. These four plans provide financial assistance to enable you to avoid the out-of-pocket costs associated with Medicare Part A coverage gaps. Unfortunately, neither of these plans provide much benefit related to Medicare Part B coverage gaps. If you need financial assistance paying for both Medicare Part A and Medicare Part B coverage gaps, then you’ll need to look into the next batch of plan types.
The second category of Medigap plans includes those plans that not only provide protection against Medicare Part A coverage gaps but also provide protection against Medicare Part B coverage gaps. That includes Medigap types B, C, F, G, M, and N. Each of these plans provides benefits related to Medicare Part A (such as those mentioned above) while also making treatments related to Medicare Part B (such as emergency services and ambulance rides) far more affordable. Unfortunately, Medigap Plan F will not be offered after 2020. In order to continue to receive a comparable level of care, you will have to enroll in a different one of these plans, or hurry and enroll in Plan F before the expiration date for new enrollees. Just keep in mind that you will lose your Plan F benefits for good if you ever change your plan after Plan F is no longer available for sale.
In order to obtain prescription drug coverage, dental coverage, and/or vision coverage while on a Medicare Supplement Insurance plan of any type, you’re going to need to do a couple of things. Since it is impossible to add these coverage options directly to your Medigap plan, you will need to do so indirectly. For prescription drug coverage, this can be done by enrolling in Medicare Part D prescription drug coverage. Although this plan could leave you paying out-of-pocket costs as a result of the “donut hole” coverage gap, Medicare Part D prescription drug coverage tends to be more than enough for the average senior. For vision and dental care coverage, you can easily enroll in a private vision and dental care insurance plan from a local provider. This can be done at any time, as neither vision nor dental insurance require you to go through an open-enrollment period, and can cost less than $50 per payment period in many cases.
As medical costs continue to rise alongside your risk of developing new or worsening symptoms, it’s important for you to take steps to ensure that you are properly insured. To rely on Original Medicare is to risk your financial independence in the hopes that you won’t fall through the cracks and land in the Medicare coverage gaps. So don’t wait a second longer! Head over to Medigap.com and get started securing your future health, finances, and independence. Don’t let coverage gaps stand between you and the healthcare that you both need and deserve.
|Medigap Plan||Minimum Monthly Premium||Maximum Monthly Premium||Average Estimated Monthly Premium (Part B Premium Included)|
|Plan F (high deductible)||$27||$56||$177|