Finding the right Medicare advisor can make a world of difference in reducing stress, time spent researching and becoming confident in the decisions you must make.
When researching their options, many Medicare beneficiaries search for an “independent Medicare insurance broker near me”. This article and video detail the advantages of using an independent Medicare insurance agent vs. the classic captured agent.
Why Use Licensed Medicare Insurance Agents
Medicare is a federal government health insurance program for U.S. citizens and legal residents who are age 65 and older, or under 65 and meeting select disability requirements. When a person enrolls in Medicare, they first enroll in Original Medicare Parts A and B. This is the Medicare represented by the iconic red, white, and blue insurance card.
There are other choices that must be made beyond Original Medicare. Do you add a Part D prescription drug plan benefits? If so, which is best and how do you know? Do you add a Medicare supplement benefit (aka Medigap Plan)? Again, which plan is the right option for you? What insurance companies are best?
Or maybe you are considering trading in your Original Medicare for a Medicare Advantage plan. What are the pros and cons of that decision? How are Medicare Advantage plans different than Original Medicare?
Without the advice of experienced, educated and licensed Medicare brokers just getting over these basic questions can be an insurmountable hurdle.
Turning 65 Puts a Target on Your Back
Of course, as you approach your 65th birthday everybody wants to sell you Medicare. Who do you trust? How do you find an experienced Medicare insurance agent? Which Medicare plan is right for you?
Anyone who has a health insurance license can offer Medicare insurance. There are no special courses required by the state to become an expert in Medicare. Unfortunately, too many licensed agents attempt to sell Medicare insurance plans before they even understand their product, the differences in Medicare coverage or the consequences Medicare beneficiaries face when making the wrong decision.
Licensed Medicare Agents vs. Independent Medicare Brokers.
Let’s start with the terminology. What is the difference between an agent and a broker?
Technically, in most states the term agent and broker are interchangeable. The real difference comes with who they work for. Any licensed insurance agent with a Life & Health license can offer Medicare. What you need to know is are they a Medicare expert and do they represent your best interest?
“Captive Agents” are employees of an insurance company. When you call an insurance company directly, the licensed Medicare agent you speak to represents that insurance companies best interest, not yours.
The captured agent’s job is to steer you into a p0licy offered by the insurance company he or she represents. That’s it. Think of it this way, if you visit a Ford dealer the salesman will try to sell you a Ford. If the best car and best price is a Chevy at the dealership across the street, your Ford salesperson isn’t going to tell you. They want you to buy the Ford because their income is based on your doing business with them.
Don’t mistake captive agents for Medicare advisors. Captured agents are simply salespeople with a quota and quarterly evaluations.
Because no insurer offers all your options, if you only talk to captured agents, you must talk to a lot of captive agents just to get a full picture of all the plans and prices that are available to you. If you consult with an independent Medicare insurance agent you can get all the information and prices you need from that one independent agent.
Independent Insurance Brokers
An independent insurance broker is a term used to describe an insurance agent who is not an employee of an insurer. These are typically self employed licensed agents who have contracted with multiple insurance companies. That way, they can offer plans from multiple sources, working in the clients best interest.
To use the automobile analogy, it would be like having an independent advisor review all the cars from all the dealerships to help you find the car that is right for your needs and your budget.
“Independent”; the Most Important Feature
Because the term “Broker” and “Agent” are interchangeable, what you are really looking for is someone who is independent, not beholding to any company. The independent can represent you in your search through coverage options.
Your health care needs and your budget must come first as you compare plan options to find the best Medicare plan for you.
Independent Medicare Insurance Broker Near Me
As we mentioned earlier, anyone with a health insurance license can offer Medicare plans. There is no Medicare training to get an insurance license. Unfortunately, I have seen way too many new insurance agents fresh from their licensing exam trying to sell Medicare plans they know very little about. They often don’t even know the difference between an Advantage plan and a Medicare supplement. They only know the Advantage plan pays a higher commission.
My advice is always to first understand your products so you do no harm. But I digress.
Medicare is a Specialty
So how do we go from a basic independent insurance broker to an independent Medicare insurance broker? Medicare is a specialty.
The true independent Medicare agent specializes in Medicare and related coverage. These are the Medicare advisors that can guide Medicare recipients to the right plan options.
With Medicare, Experience Counts
To be a competent Medicare Advisor takes years of experience, hundreds or even thousands of client interactions and the desire to know everything about Medicare. Good Medicare agents will need to be an expert in Medicare, Medicare Advantage plans, Medicare supplement plans, Prescription drug plans, underwriting requirements, and the different insurance companies. Everything related to Medicare health care.
There are good, experienced Medicare Advisors in this country. But not enough to suggest there will always be a competent Medicare agent near you.
The best independent Medicare agent that specializes in Medicare tends to be national in scope. They have an agency that works in most or all states. As such, they tend to work electronically via the phone or zoom conferences. The all electronic business model allows the Medicare agent with a national focus produce more health care plans, and gain much more experience than could ever be done with face to face meetings at a person’s home.
In today’s market, Medicare insurance companies have gone entirely electronic. Medicare agents (or a Medicare broker) are more efficient, using electronic applications. Applying for a Medicare plan, or any other health insurance, no longer requires sitting at a kitchen table and filling out long paper applications.
How To Identify Competent Medicare Advisors
You, as a consumer, can identify the Medicare expert by the articles they have written, the seminars or videos produced and their track record of success.
Their business model is based on educating their clients. The Medicare advisor educates first, and listens to you. Only after they are comfortable in knowing you have the basis of knowledge from which to make an informed decision do they start discussing product specifics and the difference between insurers.
A Competent Medicare Advisor should:
have a website that is Medicare focused. Not one showing products from life insurance to auto insurance with Medicare one of a long list of options.
have well written articles or videos providing a foundational education on Medicare plans.
client reviews (preferably positive ones)
work with Medicare supplement insurance, Medicare Advantage Plans and Part D prescription drug plans. They can’t be an independent Medicare advisor if they only offer one product.
Offer free counseling With no obligation
be conversant on different companies and what is available in your area.
expect to be there to help you with Medicare issues in the years ahead.
Medigap Seminars Insurance Agency
Medigap Seminars Insurance Agency is an independent Medicare broker. Matthew Claassen, the founder and CEO is a national recognized expert in Medicare who has helped over 10,000 Medicare recipients over the past seven years. Many consider him one of the best Medicare Advisors in the country. He is one of the nations leading independent agents, having earned accolades from clients and awards from almost every major insurance company in the healthcare industry. Licensed by the state insurance department in 49-states.
Our motto is to help you make an informed decision on your Medicare.
Our Medicare agent team and support staff are among the most highly trained Medicare advisors in the country.