6 Things to Consider When Choosing a Medicare Specialist
With no lack of options available, it can really be a daunting task when trying to find and choose a Medicare specialist. Overall, you want someone who’s knowledgeable, experienced, qualified, and ultimately has your back when you need them. So, how can you find the right Medicare specialist for you when there’s potentially so much to consider?
State Licensed and AHIP-Certified
The majority of insurance agents dabble in all kinds of trades – home insurance, car insurance, life insurance, health insurance and more. It’s better to seek out one whose expertise lies in Medicare, who will have the skills, knowledge, and experience in getting you the right plan to fit you and your unique circumstances.
Try to find an agent who is licensed in your state, and who is AHIP-certified – this means they have passed their yearly American Health Insurance Plans (AHIP) examinations, and have received all the additional qualifications and training required for the Medicare Advantage plans that they represent. The AHIP is the association that represents the heath insurance domain, so by being AHIP-certified, you know your agent is highly qualified and knowledgeable in this field.
Don’t Stop Searching
Your first port of call should be the internet. Search using key words like “Medicare specialist” or “Medicare agent” plus your local area to find those nearer to you. This should bring up plenty of links to advisers, agents and firms that you can start looking into.
Contact Your State’s Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP)
Your SHIP is a national program offering assistance, guidance and counselling to people and families with Medicare. This is a great service that you can use to get advice, ask questions, and to get general help whilst seeking out the right Medicare specialist and healthcare plan for you.
Evaluate Your Options
When you have gathered a list of specialists, agents, and advisers, you should begin a process of elimination. Vet each one on your list thoroughly, and reduce your list to the ones who impress you and match your needs.
Narrow It Down
A Medicare adviser has the knowledge and expertise to help you decide which plan to go for, and might work on the basis of a fee or an hourly rate. However, it’s recommended that you avoid agents who work on a commission basis, because their advice may be biased and conflicted and might not be in your best interests.
If you’re really struggling to find an agent that doesn’t charge by the hour or charge a fee for their service, it might be better to opt for an independent agent, and avoid a captive one. They both are paid a commission upon selling Medicare insurance, however, the difference is that an independent Medicare agent is knowledgeable in many different Medicare plans, and can offer various options that match your need.
A captive agent, however, usually sells for a only a couple of Medicare insurance providers, which limits what they can offer you and might not have plans that are suited to you. Be it an original plan, advantage plan or a supplement, your adviser should make your needs a priority.
Look for Good Communication
Your Medicare agent should contact you throughout the year for reviews – this is all part of offering a good service, because your needs might change which means your policy may need to be adapted to afford you the best possible cover and care should you need it. A good Medicare agent cares about you and your needs, and knows it’s their job to make sure your plan is right for you at all times. So, if they only call you during your yearly renewal period, you might want to think twice about sticking with them.
Ultimately it can be a meticulous and hefty task to find the right Medicare plan and a good, unbiased, experienced, and caring adviser who has your best interests in mind. However, with these tips, you might have an easier time when sifting through the sea of advisers, agents and specialists in your area. Healthcare is a fundamental human need, and when something goes wrong, the last thing you want is unexpected costs, coverage problems, complicated processes and nasty surprises, so it’s important that you demand only the best when it comes to Medicare and finding the right agent and policy for you.