If you’re closing in on 65, you might be thinking about the future of your health care insurance. You’re probably aware that Medicare is your next step, but you might be wondering which Medicare plan type is best for you. 

Since 1965, the Medicare program has been providing benefits for those who are 65 and older and who no longer have health insurance through employment. It has also been helping people under age 65 and with certain disabilities, get the health care coverage they need. 

When you become eligible, you can enroll in Original Medicare Part A (hospital insurance) and/or Part B (medical insurance). As an alternative to Original Medicare, you can enroll in a Medicare Advantage (Part C) plan. And you have options for Medicare Supplement insurance (Medigap) and prescription drug coverage (Part D). 

While Medicare isn’t overcomplicated, choosing the right type of coverage that suits your health care needs and your budget can be daunting at times. That’s why getting assistance from an independent Medicare advisor can help you ensure that you’re getting the best coverage for yourself.  

What is an independent Medicare advisor? 

Medicare advisors can be independent insurance agents, or brokers who work with a specific insurance company. These companies may provide plans like Medicare Advantage, Medigap, and prescription drug coverage. 

Medicare advisors are experienced in helping Medicare beneficiaries make informed decisions about their health insurance. If you decide to use one, you should choose someone who is licensed to practice in your state of residence. 

What should you look for in an independent Medicare advisor? 

When searching for a Medicare advisor in your local area, you should find someone who has a variety of plan options from a variety of providers. The advisor you choose should clearly state all the pros and cons for each of the available plans, and they shouldn’t be biased toward any of the options. This gives you a clearer picture of which plan fits your personal situation, and budget, better. 

Before choosing a Medicare advisor, compare those that are available in your area. Find one who knows the details and figures for all Medicare plan options, and who can present these facts clearly. 

Find an advisor who is a Medicare specialist and has the best skills for the job of finding a plan that fits your personal needs best. They should be licensed in the state where they work and reside, and they should have passed their annual American Health Insurance Plan (AHIP) exam. 

Medicare advisors who are AHIP-certified should also have additional training with certification from the Medicare plans that they represent. 

One more thing to consider when choosing a Medicare advisor is whether they charge a lump sum fee or hourly rate rather than a commission. Those that charge a commission can have a bias toward certain plans which might not be in your best interest. It’s best to go with an advisor who charges a fee or hourly rate for their assistance. 

How can you find a Medicare advisor? 

You may have a friend or family member that has used the services of a Medicare advisor. If they had a good outcome, their referral might be your best bet. Or you can find a Medicare advisor in your area by searching the internet. Type in the keywords Medicare advisor plus your city and state and you can get links to insurance firms or independent contractors in your area. It’s an easy way to get started with names, but you should take your time vetting each one before making a commitment. 

You can also contact the health insurance assistance program in the state where you live. These national programs are known as SHIP and they offer personal counseling and help to Medicare beneficiaries in their states of residence.