Medicare is full of acronyms, lots of different options and plans, deadlines, and hidden costs. If you cringe at the idea of having to evaluate your options, there is help available. You can seek out your State Health Insurance and Assistance (SHIP) Program. Using SHIP services are free, state counseling services that help seniors understand their Medicare, Medicare Advantage, Medigap (Medicare Supplemental Insurance) and Medicaid benefits.
sIf you want a more hand hold, your other options are to work with Medicare agents and broker. They provide unbiased information about your Medicare health insurance plan options. For the purposes of this post, an agent generally works for one specific insurance carrier. You may go to a sales presentation or speak with someone over the phone. A broker generally lives in your local community and represents more than one insurance carriers plans. If you want to work with someone that will get to know you personally, a broker is more likely to develop an ongoing relationship with you.
What most Medicare beneficiaries don’t realize is that the consulting services available through an agent or broker are completely free.
When you meet with an agent or broker, you should expect:
That they will offer you guidance based on your specific healthcare needs to determine the best plan(s) based on your residence, doctors, prescription needs and budget.
That they will provide a positive and time-effective experience that allows transparency of Medicare Supplement, Medicare Advantage and Medicare RX plans available to you. In each chance the agent or broker should include the comparative features, benefits, prices, and options of these plans.
That they will do an in-depth evaluation of your current prescription drugs so you know what your copays and out of pocket expenses will be with the Medicare RX coverage you select.
That they will not charge you anything for their time. They are paid by the insurance carriers if you elect to buy through them. If you stay with your current coverage, they should not charge you anything.
The decision to work with an agent or broker is an individual preference. Working with an agent may be the best option if you know exactly what insurance plan you want. Working with a broker may be best if you aren't sure what you need and want someone to be able to take the time to guide you. If you don't know any brokers, you can ask for recommendations through your friends or through social media.
If your unsure of your options, seek help. It's important because if you make the wrong decision, you may have to wait a year before you can change your coverage.
Leslie S McMillan is a benefits broker in Rolesville, NC, specializing in the needs of individuals. She is an Elite broker for healthcare.gov, offers Medicare Advantage, Supplements & RX coverage as well as alternative STM catastrophic plans, Life, Long Term Care, Accident, Vision and Dental. As a broker she represents multiple insurance carriers and can help you evaluate the best option for you and your family. She can be reached at 919-271-6898 or at firstname.lastname@example.org