Browsing original medicare, medicare supplemental insurance plans, or medicare advantage plans can be overwhelming. When you’re first learning about Medicare options, the Internet is a great place to start. You may want to ask family and friends who have Medicare if they like their Medicare plans. In addition, there are community resources to help you understand your options. If you find that you want personal guidance in choosing what is best for your needs, an insurance agent can be helpful.
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what is an agent?
An agent is a licensed professional who helps you select and enroll in a health plan.
There are two types of agents.
An independent agent can associate with and sell policies for different insurance companies. The agent can choose the specific policies that she wants to sell from a multitude of providers.
This type of agent can only sell policies from one insurance company.
what is a broker?
A medicare insurance broker is like an independent agent. brokers sell plans from different insurance companies.
how does an agent or broker help you with medicare options?
a medicare agent or broker can help you narrow down your options and choose the best one. To do this, they will learn about your health goals and your budget. they will present you with options to achieve your goals within your budget. they can help you enroll in the plan you choose.
You can also contact an agent or broker to help you switch plans if the plan you’re enrolled in changes coverage or doesn’t meet your needs.
Using a Medicare broker or agent is free; you do not pay directly for your service.
How do you get paid as an agent or broker?
Agents or brokers are either employed by health care companies or have a contract with the companies to sell their plans. They are usually paid on commission. When an agent or broker enrolls you in a health plan, you receive a fee for that first year. for each year they stay in the plan, they receive half of the initial payment.1
However, the commissions agents and brokers receive for different plans vary by company and arrangement. for example, the commission may be a flat fee or a percentage of the premium. regardless, you do not pay directly for the service of the agent or broker.
how do you find an agent or broker near you?
You can find a medicare insurance agent or broker near you by using the medicare centers & Medicaid services healthcare.gov.2 local help search tool You can also find licensed agents and brokers through your state insurance department. Many state insurance department websites allow you to check the license status of someone claiming to be a licensed insurance agent or broker.
why work with an agent or broker?
Although working with an agent or broker is not required, you may choose to do so for the following reasons.
Medicare can be complex. there are numerous plans, combinations of plans, benefits, rules and exceptions, all of which can be confusing. Buying health insurance is a big investment, so you want to find a plan that meets your needs. An ethical and knowledgeable agent or broker can help you get the best value for your money. Agents or brokers who sell Medicare-related health insurance products are required to pass a Medicare knowledge test each year.3
search multiple companies
To find the best health plan for your individual needs, you may need to check with multiple insurance companies. One of the benefits of working with an independent Medicare broker or agent is that they represent many health insurance companies. they can present you with plan options from different carriers, increasing your chances of finding the right one.
if you want to buy a medicare supplemental insurance policy (also called medigap) after your open enrollment period, insurance companies can use medical underwriting and set the premium based on your current health status. They may also refuse to sell you the policy based on any health issues you have. A Medicare agent or broker can help you determine if you’ll meet the enrollment requirements for the plan you want.
what type of agent or broker should I choose?
Working with an independent medicare insurance agent means you can choose policy options from different companies. Independent agents and brokers are more likely to give unbiased plan recommendations and advice. but they may not have a deep understanding of these plans.
Agents representing a particular health insurer can only sell you plans from that insurer. These captive agents are usually experts in all the options their company offers. but you won’t know about plans from other medicare insurance companies.
what should you consider when choosing an agent or broker?
Before choosing a medicare agent or broker, make sure they are licensed by checking with your state insurance department. Your business card must include your license number. The websites of many state insurance departments allow you to check the status of an agent’s or broker’s license. the centers of medicare & Medicaid services require that they be licensed in the state in which they operate.4
You should choose a broker or agent with strong experience selling Medicare plans in your state. Ask your family and friends for referrals. When interviewing an agent or broker, ask about the types of plans they carry and the types of clients they typically work with.
Choose an agent or broker with excellent customer service by asking for references from previous clients. make sure you make time to call references.
can you change insurance agencies after you sign up for medicare?
absolutely. is never tied to an agency or agent.
If you enrolled in Medicare Advantage, you can change your plans and agencies during two enrollment periods:
- Annual Open Enrollment (or Annual Election Period): October 15 – December 7
- medicare advantage open enrollment period: January 1 to March 31
If you signed up for medicare supplement or medigap, you can change your plans at any time, but you may be subject to enrollment.
It’s up to you whether you want to work with a medicare agent or broker. Using a knowledgeable and ethical agent or broker can make your search for a health plan significantly easier and faster. Since their services are free, you have nothing to lose by trying an agent or broker near you.