Medicare can be confusing, but making the right choice when it comes to enrolling in the right coverage plan can have a long-lasting impact on both your physical and financial health. But there is just so much information out on the Internet about Medicare, and if you’re new to the program this information overload only serves to confuse things. While seeking advice from family and close friends can be helpful, as can some Internet searching, you may find it most helpful to contact a local, licensed professional who can help you make the best decision for your individual needs.
Benefits of Working with a Local Agent.
- Expertise: Medicare can feel overwhelming, especially if you’re new. You’ll likely have a laundry list of questions about how to find and choose the best coverage for you. From enrollment to converting you from private insurance to Medicare to finding helpful supplemental plans to satisfy your coverage needs, expertise is perhaps the biggest asset an Independent Advisor can offer you. Additionally, providers and prices vary by market, so having someone who works locally is particularly important in weighing your options. Agents and Advisors selling Medicare are required to take hours of additional training for Medicare certification, so you can rest assured that when you’re working with a licensed expert in your area, they are working with the most up-to-date knowledge.
- Full range of options: Independent agents are going to be your best bet when shopping for Medicare plans because they work with and represent numerous companies. Captive agents – the term for agents that only work with one or a small handful of companies – have limited options and knowledge of the market. On the other hand, Independent agents have more complete knowledge of the market in your area and can provide you with more options than a captive agent.
- Price: Here’s one of the best parts: working with a Medicare insurance advisor is free. Insurance advisors will not charge you money to work with them – ever. Advisors and agents have contracts with insurance providers, which is how their services are kept free to you. If you are meeting with an advisor and they begin to talk about fees, you should take caution before proceeding with their services.
How do Independent Advisors Work?
Independent Medicare insurance advisors help consumers apply for and enroll in Medicare insurance coverage. Because independent advisors are not tied – or “captive” – to a particular set of carriers, these independent agents offer a wide variety of coverage options from many companies. It is important to note that the advisor or agent does not provide coverage directly to you; your benefits will ultimately be administered through the actual Medicare plan you choose.
Because your agent will be independent, they should be able to provide a good deal of information on several plans, all in one place. This will save you a ton of time and stress than if you had looked at all the different companies in your area, and spoke to each individual captive agent.
It’s also important to note that because the advisor is free to you, their plans are not marked up in any way. You will not save money by going to a captive agent, because their rate offering will be the same as an independent agent.
Rules for Agents Who Sell Medicare
To protect people searching for Medicare plans, there are certain rules and regulations that Medicare insurance advisors, agents, and brokers must follow. This section is important because if you’re shopping around for plans and you find an agent violating these rules, you may be the victim of a Medicare scam.
For one, a licensed agent will never show up to your door uninvited or give you an unsolicited call. Additionally, a licensed agent will never ask you for personal information over the phone unless it is to verify membership, determine eligibility, or submit an enrollment application. Such information includes your Social Security Number, your Medicare insurance number, or your medical health history.
Further, you may attend a Medicare educational event. These are perfectly legal for an agent to host, but there are rules that must be followed at these events. Agents cannot offer you money or gifts worth more than $15 to join their plan. Also, if you are attending a Medicare educational event the agent or advisor cannot enroll you into a plan at this event. An independent agent will also not discuss carrier-specific plans at an event.
One last thing worth noting is that agents cannot pressure into joining a plan, and they should never begin to tell you about plans that you have not agreed to discuss.
Medicare Supplement Plans and Medicare Advantage Plans
One function that Medicare Advisors find themselves doing often is enrolling people in Medicare Supplement plans, also known as “Medigap” plans. You may want a Medigap plan because, after learning more about Original Medicare Parts A, B, C, and D, you’ll realize that while these options give you a lot of coverage, there are gaps in these plans. These gaps can leave you underinsured and therefore exposed to a mountain of additional out-of-pocket costs for health coverage.
Medigap plans are lettered A-N, and each plan offers varying levels of coverage at varying price points. Many Medicare beneficiaries find Medigap plans to be extremely helpful in addition to Original Medicare because Medigap plans + Original Medicare will leave you with well-rounded, affordable coverage. Medicare advisors are experts in Medigap plans and will help you find comprehensive and affordable coverage to give you healthcare peace of mind.
But, if a Medigap plan isn’t for you, your local agent can also show you about Medicare Advantage plans. These plans will provide you with additional coverage at lower premiums, and many people around the country opt for Advantage plans over Medigap plans.
Finding a Medicare Advisor Near You
Medicare doesn’t have to be scary. There are millions of Americans happily enrolled in the program, and advisors like us have helped a countless number of them find plans that fit their needs. As independent agents, we won’t push into one specific plan from one company; the important thing to us is that you have a policy that you can afford and that covers you. Give us a call or send us an email today and let’s work together to find the best plan for you.