When enrolling in Medicare, there is a lot to learn and consider, from prescription drug plans and supplemental policies to Medicare Advantage plans. Using a licensed Medicare insurance advisor ensures that you’ll understand all your options and make the best decision for both your health and your wallet.
Keep in mind that time is of the essence when enrolling in Medicare. The best time to initiate a conversation with a Medicare insurance advisor is six to nine months before eligibility begins, says Mike Mary, manager of direct pay sales, who leads a team of Medicare-specific insurance advisors at Highmark. Wait too long, and you may suffer a penalty or gap in your health coverage.
Not sure an insurance advisor is the right choice for you? Mary advises that the following benefits will make it worthwhile:
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) requires that beneficiaries have Medicare Part A and B before enrolling in any Medicare supplement plans. An insurance advisor will ensure that your basic Medicare coverage is aligned and accurate to avoid any delay in the application process. “That initial piece is important,” Mary says. “Whether it’s making sure that your Medicare Part A is intact or advising you on opting for Medicare Part B during your initial enrollment, we start there and make sure those basic Medicare pieces are in line.”
Through a one-on-one consultation with a Medicare insurance advisor, your coverage choices are personalized to you and your situation. Advisors take into account your specific chronic conditions, doctor-hospital utilization, current health network, and prescription drug use. With this information in hand, an advisor can lay out plan costs to you before you enroll. Enrolling at the same time as your spouse? Your insurance advisor will work with you both, suggesting personalized products specific to each person that also work together for you as a family.
Once your Medicare enrollment is underway or complete, your insurance advisor also serves as a direct point of contact if you have questions or want to review your coverage. “In the unlikely event that there should be a hang up with enrollment, your advisor can intercede and make sure that the issue is corrected,” Mary says. Additionally, if a benefit change presents itself or your health status changes, your personal advisor can answer your questions and address your concerns.
Besides the inherent understanding of Medicare that comes with experience in the industry, all insurance advisors and independent brokers selling Medicare products are required by CMS to be trained and tested annually. The testing ensures that advisors are up to date on Medicare rules and regulations, as well as plan details and changes. Your advisor will then pass this information on to you, saving you hours of internet research. “This training protects the consumer more than anything and ensures they are getting accurate information,” Mary says. “After all, decisions about Medicare coverage often need to be made every year.”