MEDICARE AGENTS - Do you need one?

Who is a Medicare agent?

Most agents are Medicare brokers which means that they are contracted with multiple insurance companies which allows them to review and offer the best plans to you individual needs.

A Medicare agent’s services are no cost to you. Insurance companies pay agents a commission for promoting, educating, and hopefully advising customers that their plan is the best plan. The price of the plan’s premiums and/or copays does not change whether you purchase the plan directly from the insurance company website or through an agent. There is no financial benefit if you do not use an agent.

Medicare agents are knowledgeable. There are a lot of tests and certifications required to be a Medicare agent. Each state has their own insurance requirements. This is on top of what each individual insurance company requires for their own product tests and certifications. The right to sell different products requires different test and certifications for each product. For instance, an agent may have passed the test and be certified to sell Medicare Supplements, but that does not mean they have passed the tests and are certified to sell Medicare Advantage plans. These certifications must be updated each year along with CE Credits.

A good Medicare agents is also very passionate about what they do and truly has a servant’s heart in wanting to help you get the very best plan that protects your health and finances. Healthcare is the number one cost as people grow older.

What does a Medicare Agent do?

They help you get through the steps required to get signed up and enrolled in Original Medicare, so you are ready to start the process of reviewing plans that cover the extra costs that Original Medicare doesn’t.

They find out what is important to you. Are you okay with a premium or would you prefer a low or $0 premium? Are there any specific doctors, clinics, hospitals, prescriptions that you want to make sure are in-network for your plan? What about dental, vision, and hearing coverage, are those important to you? There are a lot of questions to be answered to make sure you are getting the right plan for you.

And once, that has been established, the agent can go to work researching the best plans for you. On average, there are 40+ Medicare Advantage plans, 20+ Medicare Supplement plans and maybe another 20+ Prescription Drug plans available to you depending on your county and zip code. Youl can go to each insurance company’s website and review each plan available, take notes, compare them on your laptop or print off each plan and research all these plans yourself. But why? A Medicare agent will have access to a broker’s site where they can review all the plans with you on one site which is a better use of your precious time.

Now it is time for the agent to uncomplicate and advise on the best plan options for you. You don’t want an agent presenting 80 plan options to you – that is probably going to confuse you even more. And an agent should define the terms and details of the plan and why the ones they are presenting are the best options for you.

A good Medicare agent is going to encourage you to call them with any questions. You should hear from your agent on a regular basis and should have them on speed dial and feel comfortable calling them with any Medicare related questions.

Why is it important to have an agent?

An agent is going to save you a lot of time. Think about all the plans that I mentioned above that could be available to you. Researching every one of those plans takes a lot of time and is that the best use of your time?

An agent can save you money. What if you got tired researching all the plans and ended up choosing a plan that took more money out of your pocket than you needed to spend? As I mentioned above, an agent does not cost you money. An agent’s services are no cost to you. Medicare agents are paid by the insurance companies and the details of a plan such as copays or premiums remain the same whether you purchase the plan through the agent or directly from the insurance company. If you purchase directly through the insurance company, the commission normally paid to the agent just goes back in the insurance company’s pocket.

A good Medicare agent should keep you informed. Agents are constantly being updated with information on plans. And it is their job to share that with you especially if it involves one of your plans.  

Last, but the most important in my book, is that a good Medicare agent is a lifelong advocate for you. As agents, we have access to lines of communication that you do not, and we need to use those lines of communication to help you get resolutions for issues. A good Medicare agent should be willing to jump on the phone and go to bat for you in every situation you need their help.

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