Whether you’ve been on Medicare for a decade, or if you’re looking to enroll in the next few months, you may have wondered if you need a Medicare insurance agent and if that agent should be local. There are a number of benefits to working with a licensed Medicare agent, and this article will help you understand why you should have one and why it helps for the agent to be local.
Also, as a tip, if you are getting ready to call an agent, you will want the following ready: your Medicare card, preferred provider list (if you know which providers you like best), list of prescriptions you take regularly, and current health care information.
What is a Medicare Insurance Agent?
Medicare insurance agents can give you all the information you need to know regarding Medicare plans and options in your area. One thing you absolutely need to know is that working with an agent is free, and doing so can help save you time and money. Agents know all the different carrier rules and regulations, histories of carrier rate increases, and limitations. This is all information that can be difficult to find online.
Oftentimes, carriers don’t publicly release many of their plan’s details. Instead, they provide agents with this information. The reason for doing this is because so much of this information is difficult to read, let alone understand, so carriers do not want you to feel overwhelmed. Every carrier and every plan has detailed rules and regulations, which makes comparing plans and carriers difficult if you’re not a professional. People usually think they’ll pay a fee for working with an agent; in reality, you will likely save money by having one.
An agent is your trusted guide to the complicated Medicare insurance market.
Why Should You Have a Medicare Agent?
There are several important reasons why you should hire a Medicare agent before purchasing a policy.
- There are no additional fees to hiring an agent, and policies will not cost more money if you choose to shop through an agent.
- By comparing premiums and plans from all carriers, an agent can save you money
- Agents always work with the most up-to-date information released from both Medicare and the insurance carriers.
- Agents can help you with Medicare claims
- Agents will provide a non-biased opinion on all your Medicare options
It can be difficult to sort through competing Medicare plans because they contain a great deal of industry jargon, and plans can sound similar if you are not familiar with their details. Further, there are strict deadlines and hidden costs that an agent can help you look out for and avoid. Going at Medicare alone can come with a steep learning curve, so it’s helpful to have an agent navigate these tricky waters by your side.
Further, licensed agents know how to quickly and efficiently sort through numerous plans from multiple carriers, which will save you time. Different carriers can charge different rates for the same policy, so comparing your options across a broad range is really helpful.
Lastly, agents will take into account your healthcare needs and your budget and suggest plans that will balance giving you a proper level of coverage while making sure not to break your bank. Since their services are free to you, be wary of any agents or companies that ask you for any upfront obligations.
If Services Are Free, How Do Agents Make Money?
Medicare agents are paid by insurance carriers, so that is how the agent’s services are free to you. If you ever speak to an agent or broker and they mention a service fee, you should consider finding another agent. There should never be any fees if you’re working with a licensed Medicare agent, and they should never pressure you into purchasing insurance.
Independent Medicare Agents vs. Captive Agents
Captive agents work directly for one insurance carrier. Since they are on that one carrier’s payroll, they can only show you plans offered by the carrier they work for. On the other hand, an independent agent will look at all carriers and all plans to find what option works best for you. Independent agents want to find a health plan that fits your specific needs, regardless of who is offering the plan.
Should I Bundle My Medicare Insurance?
Bundling insurance has become more popular these days due to some catchy advertising that you may have seen on TV. Bundling means getting coverage for your auto, property, life, health etc., all with one company. For some things, this may make sense, but Medicare is one insurance that you should not bundle.
Rather than spreading ourselves thin across several different industries and sectors, we focus solely on Medicare. Medicare is extremely complicated, and for something as important as your health, you’ll want a subject-matter expert.
Can Any Licensed Agent Sell Me a Plan?
Sort of. In order to sell a plan in a state, an agent has to be licensed in that state. So, an agent could live in Texas, but if they are licensed to sell in Mississippi, then they can sell Medicare to Mississippi residents. Of course, with today’s technology, this also means that you can talk to a licensed agent and get full service right from home. Even if your agent lives in the same town, you can chat with them over the phone or via video chat and get the exact same service as if you were in person.
What Are the Rules for Agents Who Sell Medicare?
A licensed agent cannot – and will not – ask you for personal information over the phone unless it is to verify membership, determine eligibility, or submit an enrollment application. An agent cannot come to your home uninvited. Additionally, an agent cannot offer you money or gifts worth more than $15 to join their plan. Also, an agent cannot enroll you in a plan during an educational event.
One thing worth noting is that agents cannot pressure you into a plan, and they should never begin to tell you about plans that you did not agree to discuss.