Although Medicare has been designed to fit the needs of most seniors, many retirees or those approaching the age to qualify for Medicare benefits are surprised to find that not all Medicare plans are the same. In fact, Medicare plans provide different options from different providers, and while they all include the same core benefits, how your plan is priced and what benefits it offers will depend on your provider and plan type.
Enrolling in a Medicare Advantage Plan
Enrollment in Medicare benefits is available to Americans 65 and over. Your Initial Enrollment Period begins three months before your birthday month the year you turn 65. From there, you can also apply during your birthday month and for three months after. Enrollment in Medicare benefits may also be possible if you qualify for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Railroad Retirement Board benefits under the age of 65.
When enrolling in a Medicare Advantage plan, you may be faced with options from several providers in your area. Reviewing your options and comparing plans is important before enrolling. Online comparison tools are free and easy to use, but if you have questions as you narrow down your options, you may want to speak to an independent licensed sale agent who may be able to help you find a plan that’s right for you.
Partner With an Licensed Independent Medicare Advisor
While you may be able to find the right plan through licensed sales agents employed by Medicare plan providers, many retirees find that it’s better to seek out plans through independent advisors or Medicare brokerages. An independent Medicare advisor is someone who can shop the market for you and make recommendations based on your specific needs.
These licensed sales agents are generally not tied to any one specific plan or provider that they need to push. Instead, they can offer plans from numerous providers to guide you in making the right choice for your healthcare needs.
Commonly, you will meet with an independent Medicare advisor in person or through a phone or online consultation. By answering some simple questions about your current healthcare needs and also your future healthcare concerns, a licensed sales agent can review plans from the various providers in your area and help you determine which plan may be right for you.
An independent Medicare advisor may be able to help you navigate the various parts of Medicare as these can be a bit intimidating if you’re new to the program. Medicare Part A, Part B and Part D are the components of Medicare, but many Medicare Advantage plans offer additional benefits as well.
What to Look for in a Licensed Independent Agent
Even though an independent Medicare advisor or agent isn’t tied to one particular company, these licensed insurance professionals still need to adhere to the regulations of the states in which they provide services. When looking for independent Medicare insurance agents, look for professionals who are licensed in your state to provide insurance services, who have a track record of providing excellent customer service and who are willing to work with your schedule to get you the answers that you need. Additionally, you will need to find licensed sales agents who are authorized to sell insurance products in your state so that your coverage adheres to Medicare’s guidelines.
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