Start here if you are new to Medicare
If you are newly eligible for Medicare or if you have Medicare and your employer group health insurance is ending, you may be anxious to buy a Medicare supplement or enroll in a Medicare Advantage Plan. But before you do, consider finding a trustworthy agent who is knowledgeable about all Medicare plan types.
An agent who is able to assess your situation and educate you about your various plan options is better than an agent who is merely looking to get you into a plan in order to earn a commission. And don’t discount service after the sale. Agents earn renewal commissions on Medicare plans that may last for several years and are obligated to stay in touch and be there when you have questions or need service.
Follow these tips to find an agent
1. Know when an agent is breaking the rules. There are strict marketing guidelines for some Medicare plans. Agents cannot call you without your permission, show up unannounced at your home or approach you in public areas soliciting you to enroll in a Medicare Advantage Plan.
Also, beware of telemarketers who pose as survey-takers who have an interest in what type of Medicare plan you have. This is often nothing more than a disguised cold call.
2. Know the difference between a captive or independent agent or broker. Some agents represent only one insurance company; these are captive agents. Independent agents and brokers can represent multiple companies and in some cases may represent dozens.
Although a captive agent will conduct a needs analysis, they will not have as many products to show you and can only show you what they consider best from their limited portfolio. If you want the widest range of plan options, speak with an independent agent or broker.
3. Where to look for an agent. If you are without an agent or your current health insurance agent doesn’t handle Medicare Advantage Plans and Medicare supplement insurance, you will need to strike out on your own to find a trustworthy agent.
There are really two ways to proceed: You can look for an agent locally or you can take your search online. To find a local agent, start by asking your current agents (health, life, auto, homeowners) for a referral. If they do not handle Medicare plans, there’s a good chance that they know someone who does.
You can also check with your local Area Council on Aging office. They are a good resource when you are new to Medicare and have questions or are looking for an agent.
If you are more interested in taking your search online, look for a broker who represents multiple companies. Ask them about service after the sale and don’t be pressured to fill out an application until you are satisfied with the Medicare plan they are recommending.
Finding a broker and plan online can end the hassle of meeting with an agent, but a local agent could more readily available if you have issues after the sale.
Follow these steps when you’re new to Medicare to get the answers you need and have several plans to choose from. Which ever way you go; a Medicare Advantage Plan or a Medicare supplement, it helps to have someone on your side who has plenty of options for you.