Keys to Unlocking Medicare
One of the most painful calls I get is from a client who is calling on behalf of a parent. They want to know if there is anything I can do for a parent who is paying huge monthly premiums for her Medicare supplement. The agent who signed them up is long gone. The supplement has increased over the years due to age and rate increases. Now the parent is in her 80’s and in poor health, and the monthly premium is financially crushing. Many times there is nothing I can do because their mom or dad cannot pass the underwriting questions to change to a supplement that would be significantly less. They missed out on one of the keys to unlocking Medicare–an agent who shops her policy each year.
Five Keys to Unlocking Medicare
There are five keys to unlocking Medicare. First you need to do some research yourself. The bible for Medicare is Medicare & You. It is the official Medicare Handbook that the Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services publishes each year. The Medicare.gov website is an endless source of resources. It is important to do your own research so you are familiar with the proper Medicare terminology. That way, you can better understand a serious discussion around Medicare.
The Big Key
Key number two: search for an experienced, independent agent. Experience means they have been doing this for years. Ask them when they got their insurance license. They should be able to spit that out without thinking. Ask if they do this fulltime. There are a lot of insurance companies and agencies who hire part-time people to increase their production. They give them little education or training. Even less support. Most drop out of the business after six or nine months. That probably is not the person you want. Ask if they are independent. Some insurance agents can only offer one company. They cannot shop the world of Medicare plans. Ask them to list the companies they offer. If they change the subject or only list one or two, you have your answer.
Key number three: ask questions. As I tell my clients who are aging into Medicare, you turn 65 once in a lifetime. I help people turning 65 going on Medicare four or five times in a day. I am excited when someone asks me a question I haven’t heard before. An experienced agent should be able to quickly and easily explain the details of Medicare, supplements, advantage plans, prescription drugs, etc. If not, you may wish to look somewhere else.
Price Compare Med Sups
Key number four: compare every year. I talk to my clients at least once a year. I want to know that everything is going well. Part of the conversation is the price of their supplement. With age and rate increases, what are you currently paying? I shop their supplement right then and there over the phone. I tell them if there is a plan of equal or better value at a lower price. That prevents you from getting into the situation in your later years of a plan with back breaking premiums.
Key number five: stay healthy! Go to the gym. Eat healthy. Chase grandchildren, pets, moving cars, anything that will get your heart rate up. One of the keys to unlocking Medicare supplements is your ability to pass underwriting questions so you can change plans and pay less. I can try different companies that have more liberal underwriting guidelines, but ultimately there are limitations for serious health issues.
Medicare and Medicare supplements are awesome health insurance, but to enjoy the greatest benefits from this awesome resource, you need to follow these simple five keys. Call me 402-614-3389 or the American Association of Medicare Supplements to find an experienced, independent agent near you.