Even though the concept of Medicare is fairly simple, navigating the process of enrolling in a plan can seem complicated. You may be eligible to enroll in Original Medicare when you turn 65, but exploring your options can get a bit complicated.

Plan providers employ their own sales agents who are tasked with helping you find the right option for your needs. In most cases, Medicare insurance agents employed by a plan provider are known as captive agents. This means that they only sell plans offered by the provider. Because of this, they will only be able to provide you with a limited number of options since they only represent what is offered by the provider that employs them.

Licensed independent Medicare advisors or brokers are insurance professionals who are not usually employed by a plan provider, but they can still sell you a Medicare policy. Because an independent agent doesn’t offer plans from a sole provider, they can impartially shop the market to compare plans from a variety of providers to help you find the one that meets your medical needs and your budget.

Do You Need to Work With a Medicare Insurance Agent?

While you don’t have to work with an agent to purchase Medicare coverage, doing so can often help tremendously. Aside from receiving information about multiple plans from various providers, working with an independent agent can simplify the Medicare process in other ways.

Your agent can act as a liaison on your behalf when completing a plan purchase. You actually make the purchase, but your agent can walk you through many of the steps needed, and if required, your agent can talk to your provider to get more information or clarification about the specifics of different plans.

Working with an agent can also help to ease concerns around underwriting requirements if necessary. Underwriting may be required if you’re purchasing a Medigap policy that examines the condition of your health currently. If this is the case, your agent may be able to help you know your chances of receiving underwriting before you attempt to purchase this coverage.

Can an Agent Help Me Change My Plan?

Independent Medicare advisors may also be able to assist you if you want to change your plan. When you go to enroll in Medicare, you have a seven-month window that extends from three months before your 65th birthday month through to three months after your birthday month. This is referred to as your Initial Enrollment Period.

If you want to make changes to your plan, you will need to wait until the Annual Enrollment Period which runs from October 15th through December 7th. You may also qualify to make changes to your plan during a Special Enrollment Period if certain life events create a situation where changes are necessary.

During these times, working with independent Medicare advisors can help make the transition run smoothly. Your agent can still shop for plans from multiple providers to let you know your options, and they can still provide you with guidance and advice for dealing with plan providers.