Finding a trustworthy, knowledgeable Medicare insurance agent is key to navigating your options and choosing the right coverage. This guide covers why working with an agent is beneficial, what to look for when vetting agents, tips for meeting with agents, and how to maintain the relationship over time.
Why Work with a Licensed Medicare Insurance Agent?
Deciding on the best Medicare coverage for your needs can be incredibly complex. Original Medicare has different parts, gaps in coverage, and requires juggling supplemental plans. Medicare Advantage Plans have variations in provider networks, drug formularies, and cost sharing.
Working with a licensed Medicare insurance agent simplifies the process. Agents have extensive training and expertise when it comes to:
Factors to Consider When Choosing an Agent
Once you've decided to work with an agent, you next want to vet which one represents your needs across these parameters:
Licensed by Your State
Confirm agents are licensed and in good standing by checking your State Department of Insurance website. Licensed agents take state-approved training on Medicare Plans available in your location.
Represents Multiple Carriers
Seek out an independent agent who can objectively assess and offer plans from several Medicare insurance carriers. They aren't limited or biased towards specific companies.
Has Industry Accreditations
Look for agents recognized by organizations like the American Association for Medicare Supplement Insurance (AAMSI). This signals they follow best practices and continuing education requirements.
Meets State Standards
Most State Departments of Insurance have standards for agents selling Medicare products. Choosing an agent that exceeds state requirements indicates quality and reliability.
Ways to Find a Local Licensed Medicare Insurance Agent
Use these methods to identify licensed, accredited agents in your area:
Ask for Referrals
Speaking to family, friends and healthcare providers who work with a Medicare agent is a great starting point. First-hand positive reviews indicate an agent you may want to interview.
Contact Your State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP)
SHIP counselors educate and assist Medicare beneficiaries. They may be able to refer reputable, local Medicare agents who can then help enroll you in optimal plans.
Search Online Directories
Medicare.gov offers a national directory of licensed Medicare agents you can filter by location. Your state's Department of Insurance or Medicare Supplement trade organizations also list local licensed agents.
Attend a Seminar
Many Medicare agents host local educational seminars to answer questions about Medicare enrollment. Attending one is a chance to meet knowledgeable agents and ask them directly about their offerings.
Vetting Medicare Insurance Agents
Once you have a list of licensed agents in your area, vet them further using these criteria before deciding to work with one:
Avoid Captive Agents
Captive agents can only sell plans offered by one insurance carrier instead of the whole Medicare marketplace. Make sure to ask if the agent sells plans from just one or multiple companies.
Ensure Substantial Experience
Look for an agent well-versed in Medicare by checking:
Online reviews and testimonials from current clients indicate an agent provides good service managing client needs. These build confidence you'll have a similar positive experience.
Confirm Relevant Accreditations
Agents accredited for achievements in continuing Medicare education and ethical standards are best positioned to offer latest information and exemplary service.
Meeting with Potential Medicare Agents
Once you narrow down top agents, meet with them before making your selection. Discussions should cover:
Your Needs, Budget and Health Concerns
Share details on your current coverage, prescriptions, doctor relationships, and overall budget. This gives them the full picture to tailor recommendations. Provide complete medical history so they understand health conditions impacting your options.
Recommendations on Medicare Plans
Get their expert advice about combinations of Original Medicare, Medicare Advantage, and Medigap that make sense given your situation. Press for specifics on why they recommend any particular carriers or plan details.
Carriers Represented and Potential Conflicts of Interest
Ask openly about which insurance carriers they are appointed by and compensation arrangements that could sway recommendations. Reputable agents will be transparent if incentives exist to sell certain products.
Choosing a Medicare Agent to Trust
Consider these additional guidelines for picking an agent:
Feel Confident You Can Contact Them
Ensure you feel comfortable their customer service model works for you should questions or issues arise.
Select an Agent Invested Over the Long-Term
The ideal agent guides you through yearly reassessments and changes during Open Enrollment periods. Seek someone interested in tailoring adjustments optimizing your coverage as health/life circumstances evolve.
Sign Up Only With an Agent Acting as Your Advocate
You want an advisor who helps explain options thoroughly, avoids conflicts of interest, and keeps your best interests central when securing and managing your coverage.
Maintaining the Agent Relationship
Schedule periodic check-ins with your chosen agent:
Yearly Enrollment Discussions
Set up a meeting each Fall during Medicare Open Enrollment to reconfirm or make coverage adjustments.
Contact on Life Changes
Inform your agent about any relevant shifts related to your location, income, health status or medications needing coverage. This prompts important policy reviews.
Ongoing Support Calls
Don't hesitate to contact your agent with questions about managing your claims, prior authorizations, billing issues and addressing denied services. They have expertise to help guide interactions with Medicare providers and resolve problems on your behalf.
Finding and working with a competent, ethical Medicare insurance agent alleviates much of the complexity surrounding Medicare. Establishing an ongoing relationship with someone well-versed in your needs ensures you make sound choices at enrollment time and receive responsive support year-round.
We’re Here to Help
You do not have to spend hours reading articles on the internet to get answers to your Medicare questions. Give the licensed insurance agents at The Insurance Space a Call at (866) 717-8683. You will get the answers you seek in a matter of minutes, with no pressure and no sales pitch. We are truly here to help.
Where can I find a Medicare broker or agent I can trust?
Trusted Medicare brokers and agents can be found in multiple places. You can look at the National Association of Health Underwriters, use the 'find local help' option on the Medicare website, or even consult the American Health Insurance Plans directory. These sources contain lists of licensed insurance agents who specialize in Medicare Plans and can guide you as you navigate the Medicare landscape.
Do I need a licensed insurance agent or broker to assist with my Medicare?
While it's not mandatory to have an agent or broker, having one can be beneficial, especially if you're new to Medicare. They can help determine which insurance plan best suits your needs based on your health and financial situation. They can also help with Medicare enrollment and can explain the insurance policy in detail.
How do brokers and agents help in navigating Medicare?
Brokers and agents can be considered as your helpful Medicare advisers who can assist in explaining your Medicare Plan options, helping you decide the best plan for you. They can walk you through the complexities of Medicare and Medicaid services and help you avoid common pitfalls. They can also assist with the Medicare enrollment process.
Can I have a free Medicare-broker consultation?
Yes, most Medicare brokers offer free consultations. This meeting allows you to discuss your needs and preferences, get Medicare information, and understand what different insurance companies offer. However, always double-check if the broker charges a consultation fee in advance.
How can I know if the Medicare broker or agent is qualified?
A qualified Medicare broker or agent will be licensed by your state's insurance department, be an expert in Medicare health and life insurance, and will abide by the code of ethics set by their professional bodies. They must also continuously participate in training and education to stay updated.
How can a Medicare Advantage broker help?
A Medicare Advantage broker has specialized knowledge in Medicare Advantage Plans, which is a type of health insurance plan in the U.S. that provides Medicare benefits through a private-sector health insurer. They can guide you in deciding if opting for a Medicare Advantage Plan is the best plan for you considering your unique needs and circumstances.
How do I find a Medicare Part D broker?
Many of the resources you use to find a Medicare broker also apply to finding a Medicare Part D broker. These resources include the Medicare website's 'find local help' option, the National Association of Health Underwriters, and the American Health Insurance Plans directory.
Why might I need a Medicare insurance agent?
A Medicare insurance agent can assist you in selecting the right Medicare and Medicaid services, making the process less stressful. They help you understand your Medicare choice, ensure you are not overpaying for services, and advocate for your rights with insurance companies.
Can I find free Medicare help?
Yes, there are resources available that can provide free Medicare assistance. You can find your local SHIP (State Health Insurance Assistance Programs) office through the Center for Medicare website. They offer free, independent counseling to those who are new to Medicare or are looking for plan counseling.
How can I know if my broker is providing the best Medicare advice?
Your broker should provide a thorough explanation of your options, clearly articulate the benefits and drawbacks of each plan, and not rush you into a decision. They should take into account your unique circumstances and needs. Researching online or seeking a second opinion can also help ensure you're getting the best advice.