Alabama Medicare Advantage: The 8 Best & Worst Plans
Updated October 29, 2021 at 12:00 PM PDT
Need a solid health insurance plan? Alabama ’s Medicare Advantage program might be right for you!
If you’re familiar with Original Medicare, you might know that it can provide essential Medicare coverage for hospital visits ( Medicare Part A ) and general doctor visits ( Medicare Part B ). But what if you need other kinds of coverage and benefits, like dental, vision, or prescription drugs? Medicare Advantage plans ( Medicare Part C ) could be the answer. These health plans, which you can obtain from private insurance companies, seek to provide the same coverage as Original Medicare while also offering a bevy of additional benefits. But with that freedom of choice comes a variety of options to navigate, so which plan is the best for you?
Itching to start searching for potential Medicare Advantage plans? Try the Insurify plan comparison tool! It’s free and easy to use and can provide you with up-to-date information to help you find a plan that works for you!
At the moment, some of the top Medicare Advantage Providers include AARP, Cigna, UnitedHealthcare, and VIVA. As a disclaimer, this is not an endorsement of these particular insurance providers but simply a collection of information on some of Alabama ’s top-rated plans.
|Best Medicare Advantage Plans In Alabama
|AARP Medicare Advantage Plan 3 H2802-041 ( HMO )
|Cigna Preferred AL Medicare H4513-046 ( HMO )
|Cigna Preferred Medicare H4513-054 ( HMO )
|Cigna Preferred Medicare H4513-057 ( HMO )
|Cigna Preferred Plus Medicare H4513-047 ( HMO )
|Cigna Preferred Plus Medicare H4513-048 ( HMO )
|VIVA Medicare Classic H0154-017 ( HMO )
|VIVA Medicare Me H0154-014 ( HMO )
A great way to help sift through plan information is by using Insurify’s comparison tool! You can take control of your search with an easy-to-use platform designed to give you all the information you need to make the best insurance decisions. One final word of advice as you set off to search for your Medicare Advantage plan: be sure to check each plan’s service area. Many of these plans limit coverage to specific counties or municipalities. While some of these plans may be ideal, it might not be ideal for you to move to another county just for one plan or another. Narrow your search to plans that cover your county.
While there are a good number of individual plans to choose from in Alabama, there are a handful of plan types that can help you narrow down your search based on your preferences:
Health Maintenance Organization ( HMO ): HMO plans provide coverage for doctors, hospitals, and other healthcare providers in your plan’s network. Any visits to someone outside your provider network will generally not receive coverage (unless those visits are for emergency or urgent care). For specialist services, you will need a doctor’s referral.
Preferred Provider Organization ( PPO ): A PPO plan is more flexible than an HMO, allowing you to visit doctors or other healthcare providers out of your network (albeit at a higher cost). For in-network providers, you can expect to pay less in coinsurance and co-payments.
Private Fee-for-Service ( PFFS ): PFFS plans generally have few limits on which medical service providers you can visit. However, these plans also reserve the right to decide how much they will cover for doctor visits, hospital visits, and other medical services.
Special Needs Plan ( SNP ): SNP insurance policies restrict eligibility to individuals who live in an institution (such as a nursing home) or suffer from a chronic health condition (such as HIV/AIDS, end-stage renal disease, or diabetes). Dual Special Needs Plans (D- SNPs ) exist for individuals who qualify for both Medicare and Medicaid.
Medicare Advantage Prescription Drug Plan (MA-PD): MA-PD plans roll health and prescription drug coverage into one plan. This type of plan serves as an alternative to the Medicare Part D plans you would have to enroll in if you had Original Medicare and needed prescription drug coverage.
Medical Savings Account ( MSA ): MSA plans essentially create a savings account that receives funds from the insurance provider. Though these typically have a high deductible, you can use the savings fund to pay for some healthcare expenses.
As every person is different, so are their medical needs and financial limitations. With that in mind, there is no one “best” plan, but rather, the best plan for you as an individual. The best way to figure out what is best for you is by taking a clear account of what you need from medical services. This should include things like treatment for any underlying conditions, the number of doctor visits you can reasonably expect, and medications that you know you need. Also, take a look at what you can afford, and combine your needs with your budget to find what’s right for you.
If you have more specific needs, such as specialist care or extremely specific medication, check a plan’s specialist co-pays or the plan’s formulary to make sure you don’t go without coverage.
If you’re looking for a more traditional way to gauge Medicare Advantage plan options, each plan has a star rating that you can reference. Medicare awards these star ratings based on a number of factors, such as:
Efficacy of screenings, tests, vaccines, and other preventive services
Assistance in managing chronic illnesses
Plan provider responsiveness
Member complaints and the number of plan disenrollments
While the star rating can be a solid indicator of a plan’s quality, you’ll still want to look into the specifics to make sure you don’t go without crucial coverage.
A great way to find the right plan is to simply compare, and what better way to do that than with the Insurify plan-comparison tool? It provides side-by-side plan comparisons with detailed information to help you enroll in the best possible insurance plan.
As mentioned previously, each Medicare Advantage plan is different, and so the cost can vary from plan to plan. Generally, you can expect the cost of a plan to come from the following sources:
Monthly premium: This is the monthly cost of maintaining your insurance policy. When calculating the cost of a Medicare Advantage plan, it’s important to note that you will also need to pay for a Medicare Part B premium.
Deductible: This is the amount of out-of-pocket costs you must pay in order to activate certain aspects of your plan’s coverage. These costs come from medical services (not from premiums). Once you’ve met your deductible, you can expect to pay significantly less for covered services, as your insurance policy will either cover or compensate you for costs.
Coinsurance: Once you meet your plan’s deductible, your plan will begin to cover a percentage of covered services. Typically, your plan will pay for a large percentage of a specific medical cost, leaving you to pay the smaller percentage.
Co-payments: As with coinsurance, co-payments can also require that you meet your plan’s deductible. Once you’ve done this, you will be able to pay for covered medical services through flat-rate payments.
Out-of-pocket maximum: This is the absolute limit that you can pay out of pocket for medical services during the year. After you reach this maximum, the plan must begin covering 100 percent of subsequent medical costs.
The monthly premiums for Alabama Medicare Advantage plans average to about $74.87. This comes out to an average annual cost of $898.44, with an average of $218.28 for prescription drug deductibles.
If you find that you’re struggling to pay for the various costs tied to an insurance plan, there are a number of programs to explore that can help lighten the load. For example, Medicare Supplement Insurance (also known as Medigap ) is a group of plans provided by private companies that help pay for co-payments, coinsurance, and deductibles. Medicaid services can also be a great way for Alabama residents to find savings opportunities.
You can enroll in Medicare Advantage during your Initial Enrollment Period, which begins three months before your 65th birth month and ends three months after. During this time, you will still need to enroll in Original Medicare to obtain your Medicare number, but you can subsequently switch to a Medicare Advantage plan. You can do this by visiting the Social Security Administration website, www.ssa.gov.
If you are already enrolled in Original Medicare or have a Medicare Advantage plan that you would like to switch out of, you can make that change during the Open Enrollment Period. This period lasts from October 15 to December 7 of each year, and during this time, you can make a number of enrollment changes.
There is also the Special Enrollment Period, which allows individuals in extenuating circumstances to enroll in or make changes to their Medicare plans. For more information on the various criteria needed to meet the special enrollment requirement, visit www.medicare.gov.
While Medicare Advantage plans can offer much more expanded Medicare coverage, there are a handful of drawbacks that might dissuade you from this path.
One of these drawbacks, mentioned previously, is the limited service area a plan offers. In addition, Medicare Advantage costs can vary significantly, meaning that each one can have different values for co-pays, coinsurance, deductibles, and additional benefits. As a result, the overall cost may be tough to navigate.
Given its standardized costs, Original Medicare may seem attractive to some Medicare beneficiaries, but they would be missing out on all the extras of Medicare Advantage.
From the list we provided, there are a few providers that appear to be the best in Alabama. However, this does not necessarily mean that these would be the best for you and your situation.
With that in mind, remember to search outside the top choices for the chance to find an effective and affordable insurance plan.
There is a solid selection of plans to choose from in Alabama. While some might have lower deductibles and premiums, they might not have the coverage you need. While some plans might have great specialist coverage, they might be missing coverage for a medication that you need. The best thing to do is compare the plans out there to inform yourself as best as you can.
Need a helpful guide as you look for your new plan? Check out the Insurify plan-comparison tool! It’ll provide you with all the information you need to select the best plan for you. It’s easy to use, provides useful information, and is totally free!
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Originally from Los Angeles, California, Adrian Coto is a writer living in Brooklyn, New York. A graduate of the NYU Creative Writing MFA program, he's worked as a legal assistant, a law school administrator, and now as a copywriter and editor.