Medicare supplement insurance policies – commonly referred to as “Medigap” policies – fill in the coverage gaps which Medicare Parts A & B do not cover. This type of coverage is very important, but often gets overlooked by seniors. Without it, you could end up with thousands of dollars in hospital bills which you will have to pay out of pocket. For most Medigap plans, the only requirement to purchase one is that you first be enrolled in Medicare Parts A & B.
Federal Regulations for Medicare Supplements
In order to make sure than a senior in Alabama gets the exact same benefits as a senior in California, the CMS (Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services) are in charge of regulating the ten available Medicare supplement plans. Plans A, B, C, D, F, G, K, L, M, and N are currently available for purchase (E, H, I, and J have been discontinued). Because each plan is regulated, the only difference between Plan G in Alabama and plan G in any other state is price, and provider. The benefits are identical across state lines.
Medigap Enrollment In Alabama
There are hundreds of thousands of seniors in Alabama who are supplementing their Medicare benefits with a Medigap plan right now. Surprisingly, Plan B is the reigning favorite among Alabama seniors. Plan F, which is the most popular plan nationwide, ranks a distant second.
Plan Coverage & Cost
The price you pay for a Medigap policy depends on several different factors. Your overall health is a big factor, and your rate can change based on things like your smoking habits, your age, and gender. Your rate will also be determined by where you live, right down to your county and zip code.
There are many different factors which will determine exactly what you pay for your Medigap policy. Your health as a whole will likely be the biggest factor. Unhealthy habits – like smoking – will also change your rate. Finally, your age and gender can also substantially alter your premium. Your exact location will also play a big part, even down to your specific county and zip code. The best way to make sure you get the best price despite all of these factors is to shop around and compare companies against one another. The chart below shows what other people near you are paying for their plans:
Most Popular Medicare Supplement Plans in Alabama
Alabama seniors are marching to the beat of their own drum when it comes to Medigap insurance, preferring Plan B above all other available policies. Medicare supplement Plan B covers many of the gaps inherent in Medicare Part A, which is mainly concerned with hospital-related expenses. But plan B does not cover many of the Medicare Part B coverage gaps, such as Monthly deductibles and excess charges.
Plan F ranks a distant second among Alabama seniors, with less than 1/3 as many beneficiaries as Plan B. In other states, Plan F is usually the most popular. This is due to the fact that it covers all of the gaps in both Parts A and B of Traditional Medicare.
How do Medicare Plan Ratings Work?
A Medicare plan’s star rating is a cumulative evaluation of many different aspects of that particular plan. Customers evaluate the different types of services which their plan offers, and these ratings are coalesced and averaged into an overall rating. A 5-star rating is the best score any plan can receive. Subcategories for evaluation include tests, screenings, chronic condition management, customer service, member complaints, and overall satisfaction.
Helpful Medigap Tips & Tricks
Seniors in Alabama have some unique healthcare needs based on state and local laws. For this reason, we’re in the process of gathering data on plans near you to make sure you can get the plan you need at a great price.
Doctor/Provider Network Restrictions
Medigap policies are one of the most flexible options when it comes to supplementing Medicare. Other types of coverage (Like Medicare Advantage) usually come with restricted provider networks, which means you can’t simply choose what doctors you want to see – your plan does that for you. However, this can be difficult and expensive if you live far away from a major city, travel often, or own a summer home in another state. But with Medigap, you won’t have to worry about such restrictions. You can see any doctor or visit any care center which also accepts Medicare.
Medicare Supplement plans are not restricted to a specific provider network, unlike some other types of insurance. As long as your chosen doctor, hospital, or outpatient facility accept Medicare assignment, and they will accept your Medigap insurance. Accepting assignment is what happens when your doctor agrees to be paid the Medicare-approved amount of your Medicare covered services. This acceptance also allows him or her to file medical claims on your behalf. Your doctor cannot legally bill you any more than your established cost share for services rendered (cost-share meaning your coinsurance or co-payments, along with any applicable deductibles).
Drug, Vision and Dental Coverage
As of 2010, insurance companies stopped selling Medicare supplement policies which offered prescription drug coverage. That benefit can now be covered by signing up for Medicare Part D. Also, if you need vision or dental coverage, you will unfortunately not be able to get those through your Medigap policy. With a little research, you may be able to find a low-cost option from a private company near you.
Enrollment Options & Best Time To Enroll
There are different ways to sign up for a Medicare supplement policy. However, keep in mind that all of them require you to enroll in Medicare first. If you enroll at the right time, simply becoming a Medicare beneficiary will allow you to purchase Medigap coverage, no strings attached. Other companies may limit you if you enroll later or if you have chronic health conditions.
- Initial Enrollment Period: Enroll in a Medigap plan within your first 6 months of receiving Medicare benefits, and you won’t be asked any invasive health questions or denied coverage.
- Guaranteed Issue: You will not be rejected for coverage, even with a health condition. This is a popular option among seniors transferring from an employer or group plan.
- Annual Enrollment Period (AEP): The AEP actually applies to many different insurance policies. Medigap enrollment is not restricted by AEP rules.
- Underwritten: A complicated process in which you must answer questions about your health and possibly undergo a physical exam before your chosen insurance company will offer to sell you a policy.
Free Look Period
The free look period protects seniors like you from being stuck with a Medigap plan which does not meet your needs. Within your first 30 days of purchasing a new plan, you are free to decide whether or not to keep your coverage, or cancel it without being financially responsible. Any upfront costs you pay during your first 30 days will be refunded should you decide to cancel your benefits.
What Medigap Plan Is Best For Me?
It can be hard to determine exactly which Medigap plan is best for any one individual. All of the plans may be standardized, but not all Medigap insurance providers are created equal. The search for the provider that’s best for you can be very difficult. Thankfully, Medigap.com is an excellent resource for finding one. We have the most comprehensive list of Medicare supplement insurance companies for you to choose from – which should make the process much easier.
But you should sit down and think about what your future health care needs will be. The more accurate of a prediction you can make, the easier it will be to find the best plan and the best provider to meet those needs. Remember, it’s not just about the price. You’re going to need a financially stable, well-respected Medigap insurance company that will provide you with affordable coverage as well as good customer service.