What is a Medicare broker?
A Medicare broker is an insurance agent who sells Medicare-related plans like Medicare Supplement policies. What makes these agents different is that brokers represent multiple companies. They are independent and not employees of specific health insurance companies. By being independent, they work for you and not the insurance company.
In an article from CNBC discussing independent brokers vs. captive agents warns consumers:
“Be aware that if you call a number on an ad you see on TV or elsewhere, the agent on the other end of the phone might sell plans only for one insurer. This means you won’t hear about options that might be better-suited for your individual situation.”
When talking with Medicare insurance agents, make sure they represent more than one company. If not, they could force you into the only plan that they sell that may not meet your needs or budget.
The fact a broker works for you is the most important reason you should consider working with them. There are other reasons to consider a broker.
1. Medicare is confusing
You have probably figured that out already. Medicare has multiple parts such as Part A, B, C, & D. There are co-pays, deductibles, and excess charges. Supplement plans have different options and components such as Plan A, B, D, F, G, N, etc.
Picking the wrong plan could impact your wallet more than you imagine. Having free advice on what to choose can clear up a lot of confusion.
2. Medicare changes all the time
Each year the federal government updates rules, regulations, and coverages. There is no way the average individual can keep up with all the insurance changes. A Medicare plan disappears and new ones are created. To make matters worse, they don’t just change nationally, but each state often makes their own changes.
3. Rates change every year
This is important to remember. You may have a policy and company you like, but because of insurance rate changes and new competitors entering the market, you can’t leave your policy on auto-pilot. A broker can compare what you are paying to the other companies available to you. You might find you are good where you are, but then again you might be paying much more than you need to pay.
What does a Medicare Supplement broker do?
Because Medicare agents represent multiple health insurance companies, a great Medicare broker should be able to quote you through all available carriers to find you the best coverage at the best price.
There are specifics they should be doing for you. Make sure to look for these points when you talk with an insurance broker.
1. Review your current health plans
A great broker will spend time with you going over your current policies to see what you have today. They will look for gaps in your Medicare supplement insurance, and ask questions about your needs. You may have needs not being covered and they can help you identify them.
2. One-stop shopping
Your broker should be able to review all the plans available to you. They may not go through each plan in detail but they will tell you what is available and show you at least the top 2 or 3 you can choose from based on pricing. The average Medicare beneficiary has around 24 plans from various companies to choose from. It would be time consuming for you to contact and try to rate all those various companies. A broker can do this for you.
3. Service your policy
Along the way, you will have questions no matter how good the health insurance company is. It may be billing, claims, or coverage questions. You will need service. A broker can hold your hand and help you through any questions you have during your policy period.
How Does a Medicare Broker get Paid?
Medicare brokers get paid commission on the policies they sell. You would think this would bias them against selling you the best possible policy.
Here’s an interesting fact. Medicare premiums are the same whether you use a broker or not. It is not cheaper to buy directly from the company. Whether you use a broker or not, you will pay the same premium from the company you choose. The value you get from using an agent is that you are getting free advice, and a broker that represents multiple companies will be able to find you the best price among all their companies.
How to Choose a Medicare Agent
1. Look for an expert
So what is an expert in Medicare? You want to look for someone that specializes in Medicare. You may find an agent that sells Medicare on the side, but their main focus might be commercial insurance or home and auto. They may be great agents, but having so many specialties keeps them from knowing all the wide variety of companies and changing regulations in the Medicare world.
Find someone that sells nationwide. This may not seem like a big deal, but seniors are a mobile population. You may decide to live part of the year in a different state. You may decide to move closer to your children or family. Each state has its own unique Medicare laws and companies. Any time you move between states, you will need to get a new health policy. If you work with someone that only knows one or two states, they may not be able to help you.
You want both an agency and an agent to have experience with Medicare. Even if you are talking with someone new in the business make sure they are connected to an agency with experience. If issues arise, they can’t help with at least they will have the experience to fall back on.
3. Company lineup
You’ve seen the deficiencies of working with a captive agent because they only have one company to offer you. With brokers, the number of companies they have in their lineup is critical to getting the best deal. Make sure the agent represents multiple companies (the more the better), and that you recognize many of the top brands.
A great health broker is an advocate and a teacher. They should be offering more information about the products than you probably need. Are they committed to teaching you and finding ways to help meet your needs? If a broker doesn’t communicate and provide solid understandable information, they may not have the knowledge you need.
Working with a Medicare Broker
1. Be an open book
The more information you share with your agent the better they can serve you. A great agent knows the underwriting, rules, and pricing of a wide variety of companies. You may have something unique in your situation that creates a special situation. By sharing this information, they can pair you up with the proper company that meets your needs at the most competitive pricing.
Here’s some information you need to have on hand when you discuss your situation with your agent:
- Medical status and medical history. Make sure they understand all your medical history.
- Medications. What are you currently taking? Do you have medicines you take intermittently? Is your doctor discussing future medication options for you?
- Finances. Let them know your budget and income level. Certain income levels may qualify you for different programs.
2. Understand Medicare terminology
It can be helpful to understand the basics of Medicare when you talk with an agent. Understand the difference between Traditional Medicare, Medicare Advantage, and Medicare Supplements. Know the different parts of Medicare, especially Part A, Part B, and Part D.
You don’t have to be an expert on a Medicare plan, but knowing the basics will help you ask the right questions.
We’ve created multiple articles that go through each of these segments. You can use them to brush up on your knowledge.
3. Ask questions
Medicare products can be confusing. Partly, because things change every year. Don’t be afraid to look stupid and ask questions. That’s why you are going to an expert. They have heard every question you can imagine and want you to be comfortable with what you need.
4. Review your policy yearly
Pricing and benefits change all the time. You should review your policies regularly. If it has been a while since you have reviewed your policy, you may not have adequate coverage, and you may be paying too much.
Let Us Review Your Medicare Plans
Medicare Nationwide is a Medicare Broker. We are committed to providing a wide range of options for our customers. We hope we have provided you with clear guidance on how to purchase Medicare products. We work with all the top carriers in the US and can service policies throughout the country. If we have been helpful to you, contact one of our agents and let us review your current policies to see if we can help.
Prefer to chat by phone? Give us a call at 1-888-559-0103.