Find Medicare Plans in Alabama
In Alabama, it costs an average of $30 per month for a Medicare Advantage plan with prescription drug coverage. But each person has options starting at $0 per month.
Viva Health has the highest-rated Medicare Advantage plans in Alabama. Policyholders are overwhelmingly satisfied by their coverage, but Viva is only offered in about half of the state, and it has a small network of doctors and hospitals.
Aetna is the best cheap Medicare Advantage provider in Alabama. The company only offers $0 plans, its 4-star rating is better than average, and typical medical care is affordable because of its low copayments and $0 generic prescriptions.
How we chose these Medicare plans: Our data-backed research considered Medicare Advantage plans in Alabama that include prescription drug coverage and compared cost, quality ratings and plan benefits.
Compare Alabama Medicare Advantage plans
Medicare Advantage plans are popular in Alabama, and 50% of Medicare enrollees in the state have an Advantage plan rather than Original Medicare. Among the options offered in the state, there are many good choices.
Nine insurance companies sell Medicare Advantage plans in Alabama, and every company offers at least one plan that costs $0 per month.
Most insurance companies in Alabama have good overall ratings of 4 stars or higher from Medicare.gov. Viva Health stands out for its 5-star rating — only 16% of Medicare Advantage plans nationwide have earned this top score. The only company with an average star rating below 4.0 is Clover Health, which we don't recommend because of its poor customer service.
Avg. cost per month
# of counties offered
|Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Alabama||$86||4.0||67|
Rating data has not been released for Ascension Complete and Wellcare because the plans in Alabama are either too new to be measured or there was not enough data available based on current enrollment.
Find Medicare Plans in Alabama
In Alabama, each person will have at least six Medicare Advantage plans to choose from, and it's more typical to have about 14 plans to choose between.
Keep in mind that there are usually trade-offs when choosing your plan. For example, Aetna is the best cheap insurer, but plans can have a high out-of-pocket maximum, which means you're not as well protected against major medical expenses. On the other hand, Viva Health's high ratings make it the best insurance company, but it has a smaller network of affiliated doctors and hospitals.
When comparing Medicare Advantage plans, remember the rule of thumb that a cheap plan is usually good for those who have typical or moderate medical expenses. You'll keep your monthly costs low and will pay as you go for the health services you use. But if you expect to need expensive medical care such as surgery, it can be worth it to invest in a more expensive plan with better benefits. This can limit your total annual spending and help you save money overall.
Also remember, if you have a low income, there are resources available to cover costs. In Alabama, 20% of enrollees participate in the Medicare Savings Program (MSP), which can help pay for plans and, in some cases, cover the cost of medical care. And if you're enrolled in both Medicaid and Medicare, a Dual Eligible Special Needs Plan (D-SNP) can provide added benefits.
What to watch out for:
- Medicare Advantage plans without prescription drug coverage: These cheap plans may seem like a good deal, but we don't recommend them unless you have other prescription drug coverage through your employer or union. If you enroll in one of these HMOs or PPOs, you can't enroll in a separate Medicare Part D plan for prescription drugs.
- Medical Savings Account (MSA) plans: An MSA plan is a specific type of Medicare Advantage plan that combines a high-deductible insurance plan with a cash savings account to pay for medical costs. This approach can be a good fit for those who are healthy and low-risk. However, we don't recommend any MSA plans in Alabama because the only provider, Lasso Healthcare, has just 2 stars. Plus, you'll end up paying more with these plans because you'll have to enroll in a separate Part D plan for prescription drug coverage.
Aetna: Best cheap Medicare Advantage provider in Alabama
Customer service: 4.5 stars
Medical plan: 4.0 stars
Drug plan: 3.3 stars
Cost per month: $0
- Best for those with typical medical needs
- $0 plans have low copayments for medical care
- Not offered in 11 counties
In Alabama, Aetna only offers $0 Medicare Advantage plans, and plans are widely available in 83% of the state. With a 4-star overall rating from Medicare.gov, Aetna's Medicare Advantage plans are both cheap and high-quality.
Aetna's plans are best for those who have typical or moderate medical needs. There's no deductible for medical care, so your benefits will begin right away, and you can expect to pay about $30 for specialist appointments, $0 to $35 for an X-ray, $50 for urgent care and $0 for visits to your primary care doctor.
Aetna's Alabama plans are PPOs, which means you'll be covered for medical care even if the doctor or facility is outside the plan's network of providers. For many services, you'll pay about 35% of the cost of treatment when you go outside the network. That's affordable compared to Blue Cross Blue Shield (BCBS), which can charge you 50% for out-of-network care.
However, Aetna plans have a critical downside. If you need extensive medical care, you could face very high medical bills before the plan will start paying 100% of the cost. This benefit, known as the out-of-pocket maximum, is important to consider for those with high medical expenses such as if you're managing a chronic health condition.
In the chart below that compares $0 PPO plans offered in Alabama, you can see that Aetna has cheap copayments, a benefit that's useful for those with low or moderate medical expenses. However, the Aetna plan's high out-of-pocket maximum means you could pay for $6,400 to $11,300 in medical bills before the insurance company starts paying 100% of your medical costs.
Comparing $0 PPO plans for out-of-network coverage
Typical copays for out-of-network medical care
Spending cap for in-network health care
Spending cap for both in-network and out-of-network health care
|Aetna Medicare Freedom Plan (PPO)||35%||$6,400||$11,300|
|Blue Advantage Complete (PPO)||50%||$5,100||$7,500|
|Ascension Complete St. Vincent's Access Plus (PPO)||Varies||$3,450||$5,150|
Based on plans offered in Birmingham, Ala.
If you want the best out-of-pocket maximum you can get, consider a plan from Ascension Complete, which could cap your medical spending at about $3,000 to $5,000. If you want the best overall PPO that combines a wide network of doctors and a more reasonable spending cap for out-of-network care, consider Blue Cross Blue Shield.
It's also important to note that Aetna plans are well-rated for customer service, scoring 4.5 stars. And plans have good coverage for generic drugs, with $0 copayments for Tier 1 and Tier 2 medications.
Read more: Aetna review
Highest-rated Medicare Advantage plans: Viva Health
Overall: 5.0 stars
Customer service: 5.0 stars
Medical and drug plan: 5.0 stars
Cost per month: $0 to $105
- 5-star rating means it's one of the best insurers in the country
- Limited network of doctors and hospitals
- Not good for travelers or others who spend time out of state
Viva Health is a smaller insurance company, operating only in Alabama. But with a 5-star rating from Medicare.gov, Viva is the best Medicare Advantage provider in Alabama.
It's not just Medicare.gov that thinks Viva has good Medicare Advantage plans. Surveyed policyholders gave 5 stars to their medical coverage, prescription drug coverage and the company's customer service.
Availability is limited, and Viva's plans are only offered in about half of Alabama's counties. There are $0 plans offered in most counties where it operates, providing options that are both affordable and high-quality. But in some counties, the cheapest plan you can get costs $28 per month.
All of Viva's plans are HMOs, which means you're usually only covered for health care if you go to a doctor or facility that's within the plan's network. This means it's especially important to check that the plan's network includes the doctors you prefer.
In total, Viva Health works with about 15,000 medical providers statewide, including the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) Health System. That network is small compared to the millions of providers affiliated with the major national insurance companies. For example, Blue Cross Blue Shield has the largest network of providers and is affiliated with 90% of the doctors and hospitals in the country.
If you want maximum flexibility about where you go for medical care, Viva is not the best option for you. Instead, consider one of the PPO plans offered by Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Alabama.
For travelers and those who spend time out of state, keep in mind that Viva's network only includes medical providers within Alabama. While plans will cover emergency or urgent care from any provider when you're outside of the plan's service area, there can be fine print and exclusions, so you may not want to rely on this if you travel frequently.
In Montgomery, Ala., Viva offers three Medicare Advantage plans with prescription drug coverage. All plans have no deductibles and include a great collection of add-ons such as dental, hearing, fitness and an allowance for over-the-counter pharmacy items.
Deductible (medical and drug)
Limit on how much you'll spend for covered medical care
|Viva Medicare Plus (HMO)||$0||$0||$5,900|
|Viva Medicare Prime (HMO)||$55||$0||$5,400|
|Viva Medicare Premier (HMO)||$105||$0||$4,500|
For most people, the Viva Medicare Plus plan is the best deal, costing $0 per month and providing good overall benefits for no cost. The extra $55 per month for the Prime plan would only be worth it if it saved you $660 per year in health expenses. That could only happen if you expect to need both extensive medical care and dental services in the same year because the more expensive plan only lowers your out-of-pocket maximum by $500.
Ascension Complete: Best for those with expensive health needs
Cost per month: $0
Average limit on how much you'll spend on medical care: $3,038
- Plans have a very low out-of-pocket maximum, which caps your medical expenses
- Only available in six counties
Ascension Complete stands out for having very good protection against expensive medical costs. Most of Ascension's Medicare Advantage plans have an average out-of-pocket maximum of about $3,000 for the year. So whether your medical bills total $5,000, $10,000 or $100,000 for covered services, you won't pay more than your plan's out-of-pocket maximum.
This means that they're very cost-effective if you expect to have high medical bills.
Plus, having a $3,000 spending cap is a very good deal for a plan that costs $0 per month. In comparison, the next-lowest out-of-pocket maximum in Alabama is from Blue Cross Blue Shield, which has a spending cap of $3,400, but the plan costs $171 per month. Most other plans in Alabama have an out-of-pocket max of about $5,000 to $7,000, so choosing Ascension could save you thousands of dollars if you need expensive medical care.
Keep in mind that Ascension Complete has limited availability in Alabama and is only offered in six counties — Bibb, Blount, Jefferson, Mobile, Shelby and St. Clair.
Also note that Ascension is new to Alabama and therefore Medicare.gov has not yet released any star ratings about its quality, performance or customer satisfaction. However, we expect the ratings to be mediocre because early data shows that Ascension's plans in Florida have 3.5 stars overall, and Ascension's parent company, Centene Corp., has a 3.6-star rating overall.
Even though Ascension's great benefits can save you thousands of dollars a year, if customer service and ease of use are important to you, consider a plan from another company.
Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Alabama: Best PPO
Customer service: 5.0 stars
Medical plan: 5.0 stars
Drug plan: 4.0 stars
Cost per month: $0 to $171
- $0 PPO plan has good benefits for most people
- Large network that includes 90% of Alabama's doctors
- Policyholders are very satisfied with their plan
A PPO plan from Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Alabama is the best option if you want flexibility about your doctors. Not only does BCBS have the largest network of providers nationwide, but plans also cover health care at 90% of the doctors in Alabama.
The benefits with a BCBS plan are also good for most people. Expect to pay about $5 for a doctor visit, $40 for a specialist, $15 for an X-ray and between $4 and $13 for generic prescription drugs. The $0 plan also caps your medical expenses at $5,100 for in-network care. Plus, plans have a comprehensive set of add-on benefits including hearing aids, dental, vision care and SilverSneakers fitness.
Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Alabama is well-rated with policyholders, who give it 5 stars for satisfaction with their medical coverage and the company's customer service.
The area where Blue Cross Blue Shield falls short is the speed of getting appointments. BCBS received only 2 stars in the category. So even though policyholders are satisfied with their access to health care and the quality of the health care they recieve, there may be delays in getting that care because of prior authorization requirements.
BCBS plans are offered in every county in Alabama, and all residents can choose between two BCBS plans, both of which are PPOs.
Cost per month
Your spending cap for in-network care
|Blue Advantage Complete (PPO)||$0||$0||$150||$5,100|
|Blue Advantage Premier (PPO)||$171||$0||$0||$3,400|
The $0 plan is a good choice for most people. Paying $171 per month ($2,052 per year) is rarely worth it and would only save you money in situations where you need expensive medical care that's from an out-of-network doctor or hospital. The more expensive plan only lowers your in-network spending cap by $1,700.
Read more: Blue Cross Blue Shield review
Best value for add-on benefits: AARP/UnitedHealthcare
Customer service: 5.0 stars
Medical and drug plan: 3.9 stars
Cost per month: $0 to $46
- Excellent customer service
- 17 counties where plans are not available
AARP/UnitedHealthcare plans are the most popular Medicare Advantage plans in the country. Plans in Alabama are affordable, with many costing $0 per month. They're well-rated with 4.4 stars overall and are available in most of Alabama's counties. And they have good benefits with $0 medical deductibles and affordable copayments.
However, it's the add-on perks that make AARP plans stand out. Plans include comprehensive dental, coverage for hearing exams, hearing aids, eye exams, prescription lenses, over-the-counter drug benefits, transportation coverage, gym memberships, a healthy living rewards program and more.
For those who expect to use these benefits, the value of what you get with an AARP Medicare Advantage plan adds up, helping you to reduce your household spending.
The downside is that policyholders are less enthusiastic about AARP/UnitedHealthcare than other providers, giving it an average of 3.9 stars for its medical and prescription drug coverage. Other categories are also lackluster with 3 stars for the ability to get appointments quickly, 3.4 stars for the ability to get needed prescription drugs and 3.7 stars for the quality of health care received.
Keep in mind that even though AARP is on the policy name, your insurance will be through UnitedHealthcare. The two companies have a marketing agreement where AARP promotes the plans and UnitedHealthcare pays the organization a royalty for each policy that's sold.
AARP/UnitedHealthcare offers a mix of HMO and PPO plans in Alabama. The Medicare Advantage Choice is a $0 PPO that's offered in each county where the company operates. The availability of the HMO plans varies.
Cost per month
Average drug deductible
Your spending cap for in-network care
Number of counties available
|AARP Medicare Advantage Choice (PPO)||$0||$0||$5,900||50|
|AARP Medicare Advantage Plan 1 (HMO)||$0||$0||$4,900||37|
|AARP Medicare Advantage Plan 3 (HMO)||$0||$0||$5,000||19|
|AARP Medicare Advantage Walgreens (HMO)||$0||$55||$4,500||13|
|AARP Medicare Advantage Plan 2 (HMO)||$46||$0||$3,900||37|
While the benefits are generally good with most AARP plans, the add-on perks add the biggest value as compared to other coverage options. However, if you're looking for an easy-to-use plan with satisfied customers, consider Viva Health or Blue Cross Blue Shield.
How to sign up for Medicare in Alabama
To get started with Medicare, first sign up for Medicare Parts A and B through the Social Security Administration. Because it's a federal program, your eligibility for Medicare in Alabama is the same as in every other state.
Next, visit Medicare.gov to browse the coverage options that are offered in your county. This can include a bundled Medicare Advantage plan, a Medicare Supplement plan or a Medicare Part D plan for stand-alone prescription drug coverage.
Any cost for Medicare plans from private insurance companies is on top of the standardized rate for Medicare Part B set by the government at $170.10 per month.
If you need help choosing a plan or navigating your options, the Alabama SHIP (State Health Insurance Assistance Program) provides free insurance counseling.
Find Cheap Medicare Plans in Your Area
Alabama Medicare enrollment statistics
Medicare enrollees in Alabama: 1.1 million
Number of Medicare providers operating in Alabama: 9
Average monthly cost in Alabama:
- Medicare Advantage: $30
- Medicare Part D: $51
Medicare Advantage enrollment (enrollment as a percentage of all Medicare beneficiaries)
- National average: 42%
- Alabama: 50%
- Mobile County: 63%
- Jefferson County: 59%
- Shelby County: 55%
- Montgomery County: 54%
- Baldwin County: 51%
- Tuscaloosa County: 48%
- Madison County: 36%
- Lamar County: 28%
Frequently asked questions
Who is eligible for Medicare in Alabama?
The Medicare requirements in Alabama are the same as in the rest of the country. To be eligible, you'll need to be age 65 or older, or have a qualifying disability or medical condition, such as kidney failure.
What is the best Medicare plan in Alabama?
Among the Medicare Advantage plans offered in Alabama, Aetna is the best provider for cheap plans with good coverage for those with typical medical needs. Viva Health is the highest-rated company, with 5 stars. And Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Alabama is best for those who want provider flexibility.
What is the income limit for Medicare in Alabama?
There are no income limits to qualify for Medicare. Instead, your eligibility is based on your age (65 or older) or having a qualifying medical condition. Those who have a low income may be eligible for both Medicare and Medicaid. To qualify for Medicaid in Alabama, an individual must earn less than $13,590 per year, a couple must earn less than $18,310 or a family of four must earn less than $27,750.
Sources and methodology
Data on Medicare plans was sourced from the public use files from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS). Our analysis of Alabama Medicare Advantage plans only includes the plans that have prescription drug coverage and excludes Special Needs Plans (SNPs), Medicare-Medicaid plans, Medical Savings Account (MSA) plans and employer group plans.
Comparisons were made based on cost, coverage and quality. Medical and drug plan ratings are based on policyholder feedback to Medicare.gov, while the overall ratings are based on Medicare.gov's aggregation of 40 performance measurements.