Why Do You Need a Medicare Agent?
Many who turn 65 realize why they need a licensed Medicare insurance agent specializing in Medicare planning. Insurance companies and insurance agents inundated you with letters, postcards, brochures, booklets, and phone calls. You need to contact the FBI for witness protection to avoid the bombardment you get from all the phone calls.
Anyone going through the experience of turning 65 and going on Medicare knows the anxiety, confusion, and overwhelming nature of the situation. There are all these insurance companies and hundreds of Medicare plans. Add in your unique mix of medications and personal health requirements. Include the foreign language called Medicare, and your head is spinning with all the stuff.
It would be best if you had someone, but whom do you trust. You turn to friends and relatives for advice. Their information is confusing and contradictory. Friends and relatives may be trustworthy, but do they really know what they are talking about?
You may hear horror stories from others–-whether real, imagined, or exaggerated–-about going on Medicare. How do you avoid the mistakes others have made?
You Need Someone Knowledgeable You Can Trust
You need an honest, knowledgeable, and experienced licensed Medicare insurance agent who does Medicare planning. His task is to educate you on Medicare, explain the various plans, and guide you through the process of enrolling in Medicare, searching for a plan, and implimenting that plan. And, after you are on Medicare, he needs to monitor your situation so that he can respond to any issues or changes in your circumstances. Things are always changing including with Medicare.
What Does a Real Independent Licensed Medicare Insurance Agent Do?
A real independent, licensed Medicare insurance agent, knows what to do. He has more knowledge than what is gained from just passing the state insurance licensing exam. Experienced agents work with Medicare, insurance companies, and clients. They get constant feedback on what is working or not. Licensed agents know the process of enrolling in Medicare and enrolling in a Medicare plan. He knows all this information because he is licensed, certified, trained, and experienced.
Which surgeon would you like operating on you? A surgeon who just passed his state licensing exam or one who has practiced for a decade with thousands of surgeries under his belt? Experience, experience, and more experience. With any professional, you hope he has worked out all his mistakes on someone else.
Insurance Agent Problems
The barrier to entry into the insurance business is shallow. You only need to pass the state license exam. Consequently, hundreds of people are getting into the Medicare insurance business, particularly in the Omaha Metro area, each year.
They know very little about insurance, Medicare, and insurance plans. The newbie agents often reflect the prejudices and biases of insurance companies that recruited them. These newbies do not know what they don’t know. They don’t know they are pawns and being used. They see an opportunity to make “big, easy money.” That is how the recruiters present the job. So most newbie agents fail and quit pretty quickly because there is no “big, easy money.”
Should I Use A Medicare Broker?
An experienced, independent, licensed Medicare agent can teach you about Medicare. He can make the Medicare & You Handbook make sense.
If he is independent, he is a broker. He can show you many Medigap plans and Medicare Advantage plans. He is not restricted to one company. There are no restrictions on the product he can present. Brokers are like grocery stores full of products. He can explain Medicare Supplements (Medigap) policies A thru N. He shows the pricing of all the major and minor supplements. An experienced agent should know the history of the companies he offers and how they have done business over the years.
In the Omaha, Lincoln, and Council Bluffs Metro area, over 30+ insurance companies offer over 300+ Medicare Supplement, 7 insurance companies offer 26 Medicare Advantage plans, and 10 insurance companies offer 22 Medicare Part D prescription drug plans. It sounds overwhelming, but we have a simple, logical process that narrows your selection down quickly.
An independent licensed Medicare agent can explain Medicare Advantage/Part C without prejudice, talking about the pros and cons of Medicare Advantage, the various companies, and the particular plans, especially in relationship to Original Medicare and Medigap policies.
An independent licensed Medicare agent can go through your list of prescription medications and show you which plans are better because of coverage, price, and rating.
This process is not full proof assuming you find such an agent because consumers still make bad choices, hear what they want, or forget what they signed up for.
What Does A Licensed Medicare Agent Do?
A licensed Medicare agent should have a repeatable process he takes you through. He should educate you on Medicare. Without an understanding of Medicare, nothing makes sense.
Second, he should explain how the insurance products work with Medicare to complete or augment Medicare’s health coverage. After listening to your story, he then matches the insurance product to your unique needs.
The process of choosing a Medicare plan is not perfect because circumstances change. Unexpected things happen, but you have the assurance you made the best decision at that time.
What Is The Difference Between A Medicare Agent and Medicare Broker?
A broker or an independent licensed Medicare agent generally means they can offer several companies. Some agents are captive. They can offer only one or two companies because of their contractual obligation.
I’ve found some agents in the Omaha area misrepresent themselves. They tell prospective clients they are independent when they are not. How could you know she is a captive agent?
The simplest way to check is to go to the Nebraska or Iowa Department of Insurance website–any state insurance department. There will be a tab for Agent and Agency search. Type in the agent’s name. You will see all the information you need. The insurance department lists the agent’s insurance company appointments, in other words, who they can sell. If there are only one or two companies, they are not brokers.
How Are Licensed Medicare Agents Paid?
The insurance companies pay the agents when they enroll you in a plan. If the agent is selling a Medicare Supplement, he is paid a percentage of the monthly premium. If he sells a Medicare Advantage plan, the commission is a flat payment that Medicare determines. The commission is the same amount among all the insurance companies in that state. With Medicare Advantage plans, the first-year Medicare Advantage commission is more than the if the person had already been on Medicare for a year or more.
Going Agent-Less Gains You Nothing
People have asked me if they would save money going directly to the insurance carrier. No. The price is exactly the same. The difference is that you do not have an agent. You have the 800-number of the insurance company. When you call the company with questions, you will speak with a different person every time. You will probably get different answers depending on the person you speak with.
When you have problems with the supplement or advantage plan, I can guarantee you that the insurance company will not tell you to go to another insurance company.
Since we are brokers, our only concern is the well-being and happiness of our clients, so if the problem cannot be resolved, there are always other companies that will take your business.
Are Medicare Advisors Free?
Medicare insurance agents do not cost you anything. Their compensation is the commission they receive from enrolling you in the Medicare Supplement or Medicare Advantage plan. You need not pay anything in addition. As a matter of fact, the insurance company pays the agent for the clients they retain.
The idea behind the commission renewal is that the agent will continue to service you. Unfortunately, it does not seem to work that way. Many people referred to me who are already on Medicare have no idea who their agent is. I cannot say how often someone comes to me for help with their Medicare plan. Clients refer their friends and relatives. I always ask who their agent is. ‘What’s that?’ Of course, some agents are out of the business. That is the main reason, but others are still licensed and receiving renewals. They just don’t do anything because they’re lazy.
Good Medicare Insurance Agents Stay in Touch
We actively engage clients because we want to serve you. And we want more of you. We want you to refer your family and friends to us! So we call, email, and send letters, especially during the Annual Election Period (AEP) October 15th–December 7th. I also like to call on birthdays because the price is likely to increase if you are on a Medicare Supplement. I want to check if a less expensive supplement may be available with the same coverage.
Some people are do-it-yourself-ers. I understand that, but I think it is a mistake. There is so much to consider regarding Medicare health insurance that an amateur will do an amateur job. That being said, some agents are amateurs too.
A genuinely independent, experienced, licensed Medicare insurance agent will educate you on Medicare, show you all the available plans, and help match that plan to your unique needs at that time at no cost to you. He will be there for you over the years as your needs and circumstances change. That is why you want an experienced, independent, licensed Medicare insurance agent taking care of you.
Give us a call at 402-614-3389, so we can take care of you.
Are You An Independent Medicare Insurance Agent in the Omaha Area?
There are different kinds of Medicare advisors in Omaha, NE. Some Medicare agents are captive, meaning they sell Medicare insurance company products exclusively for one insurance company. Some of those companies may have subsidiaries, so it appears the agent offers multiple companies, but in fact, he commits exclusively to just one Medicare insurance company. By contractual obligation, he cannot offer or sell other insurance companies or their products. If he discusses other insurance companies and products, it is usually to sell against his competition. There are a large number of captive Medicare insurance agents in the Omaha Metro area.
Captive Insurance Agents
The problem with captive agents is that you cannot compare the many different companies and Medicare insurance products available objectively. So inevitably, the captive agent will usually conclude his company and products are the best. Physicians Mutual and Blue Cross Medicare insurance agents in the Omaha area and throughout the state are examples of captive agents.
Some insurance companies have “Independent Career Agents.” Those Medicare insurance agents contract with large insurance carriers that supply them with leads. The agent receives leads from the insurance company and he must only present that company and write for that company. Depending on the insurance company, they may or may not enforce the exclusivity. United Healthcare has many Medicare insurance agents in the Omaha Metro area, along with Nebraska and Iowa, who are career agents.
Again, the conflict is you will never know whether you receive disinterested and objective advice when an agent has special relationships with insurance carriers.
Discovering conflicting interests is not easy because the agent will control the plans you see. He will most likely not disclose the higher commission or incentives to you. However, if you shop around and compare plans, you may be able to discover better or less expensive Medicare supplements and plans.
Do You Sell Medicare Supplements AND Medicare Advantage?
Some agents only sell Medicare Advantage plans. I’ve found agents that started in the business selling Medicare Advantage tend to stay with Medicare Advantage. Agents who started selling Medicare Supplements stick with selling Medicare Supplements. Ask the agent if he offers both. They are both very different ways to approach Medicare, but they are not as apples to oranges as some would lead to you believe.
Do You Enroll Clients In Medicare Part D Prescription Drug Plans?
One of the difficulties I have found with agents who only sell Medicare Supplements (Medigap) is they are not certified to offer Medicare Part D prescription drug plans. Certification is costly, time-consuming, and challenging. If you are not certified to sell Part D, you cannot offer Part D prescription drug plans. Those kinds of agents give their clients an 800-number and tell them to call Medicare for their prescription drug plan rather than help them pick one. The insurance companies pay very little for Part D drug plans. Most agents find it does not make financial sense to get involved.
I find prescriptions are sometimes the most critical part of a person’s health plan. On top of that, prescriptions can be costly, difficult to understand, and hard to navigate. Ask your Medicare agent to run your medications for you to see which of the Part D plans or Medicare Part C/Medicare Advantage plans are the best fit for your mix of prescriptions. He can do that on the Medicare.gov website or his private software package. If he can not easily do that for you, you have a good idea of the level of his knowledge and expertise or lack thereof.
Are You A Local Medicare Insurance Agent?
When you turn 65, Medicare insurance companies and Medicare insurance agents will bombard you with mail, email, and phone calls non-stop. You almost need to go into witness protection! Some of my clients tell me they receive 10 or 15 phone calls a day. Most of the phone calls come from call centers in Florida, So. Carolina, California. Hundreds of insurance agents stacked on top of one another in rooms full of phones are cranking out thousands of phone calls a second. They use automatic dialers that simultaneously dial ten persons at once. The first person who answers they solicit. After that, the other lines go dead.
Persons you never met, persons you will never meet, persons you never heard of until that moment will ask you for your banking information, Medicare number, and birth date. You will probably never hear from them again after you sign up with them. They may or may not be in the insurance industry by the end of the month. These call centers churn and burn agents like they do clients.
If that is how you like to do business, then it will be very convenient. Our method is to have Medicare insurance agents sit down with people face-to-face at least once if not more times. I grew up in Omaha, went to South High, own a home here. I will be buried next to my parents at Calvary Cemetery. We are as local as local can be. With thousands of clients, we are not going anywhere. So if you like that, you will like us.
Independent Agent Or Broker
Independent Medicare insurance agents or Medicare insurance brokers will show you a wide variety of insurance companies and products. For example, they can show you the Medicare Supplements and Part D prescription drug plans along with the Medicare Advantage plans. Medicare insurance brokers should share their experience with the various companies and plans over the years and show you data and statistics that prove their points. There are many Medicare advisors in Omaha, NE.
How Often Do You Contact Your Clients?
There are three certainties. Medicare will change, the Medicare plans will change, and your needs will change. Consequently, your agent needs to contact you to keep you abreast of those changes.
The Annual Election Period (AEP) is October 15th–December 7th. That is the period when you can change your Medicare Part D and Medicare Part C plans. In addition, I send out several letters and emails to remind clients of their opportunities.
Most of the time, “if it’s not broke, don’t fix it” is good advice, but it doesn’t mean to ignore clients. For example, clients on expensive medications, like insulin and anti-diabetic medications, need to check their prescriptions annually because plans change. Your medications may have remained the same, but the insurance company can drop or add a prescription. In addition, they can raise or lower a drug on a particular tier level, which affects the price.
I’ve had clients ignore my letters and calls. After Annual Election Period passes, some clients call because their prescriptions have gone through the roof. There is nothing I can do at that point except to ask the insurance company for an exception.
Many Medicare insurance brokers in the Omaha Metro area do not call their clients regularly. Some not at all. They sign you up and disappear. Ask how often they will call you and check.
I like to call clients on their birthday. Everyone likes well wishes on their birthday, but I also like to check in to make sure the Medicare plan is operating as designed. Sometimes problems come up, and sometimes clients don’t call. I like to be proactive and deal with issues head-on.
Also, for those on Medicare Supplements, their premium may increase because of age or rate increases. I like to check and see what clients are paying. I can do a quick quote over the phone. If there is a lower-cost supplement available, we complete an application over the phone. Saving $300 or $500 a year is always a good birthday present.
It is essential to see how often your agent will contact you because circumstances change, and you want to know he will be on top of those changes and problems. Also, Medicare insurance agents tend to disappear.
I have been in insurance since 2002–20 years. Getting an insurance license is not very difficult or expensive. The barrier to entry into this industry is not high. Lots of people get into insurance, and lots of people get out. A friend of mine was a human resource manager for a large Medicare insurance company recruiting Medicare agents. The average length of time in service for his company was six months.
Many times a Medicare agent will sign up a person and disappear. They disappear because they get out of the industry, have a full-time job doing something else, or are just lazy. Make sure to ask how often your Medicare agent plans on contacting you and hold him to that.
When Did You Become A Medicare Insurance Agent in the Omaha Area?
The insurance industry goes through a lot of people. Insurance recruiters make promises of flexible hours, high income, being your own boss. While writing this article, I got an email with the title, “There’s No Limit On How Much Cash You Can Earn.” Depending on the company or agency, they may promise lots of leads and opportunities.
The reality is selling insurance products is hard work. The vast majority fail. Even those who struggle for several years and others who do it part-time end up quitting because the costs, constant testing, compliance requirements, and client service needs are too much with the other life demands.
How long an agent has been doing Medicare planning is critical because Medicare has lots of rules. The insurance products have their own intricacies, and the Medicare bureaucracy itself is not easy to deal with. I learn something new each week. The companies provide training. Medicare sends out notifications. The state insurance commissions are a source of information. I especially learn from clients as problems come up. Every year each Medicare insurance company has training meetings. It is interesting to see the new Medicare advisors in Omaha, NE, at the meetings and those who are no longer there.
How Many Medicare Clients Do You Have?
I recently had an operation on my Achilles tendon. I asked the surgeon how often he was in surgery per week. He said he performed between 10-15 surgeries per week. I like that number. When someone comes at me with a sharp object, I want to know that they know what they are doing.
This is the same for Medicare. The amount of time you have been a Medicare insurance agent and the number of clients you have tells you a lot about the agent. Most people never ask. If you have been making Medicare sales for five years and have only a hundred clients, you haven’t even averaged two new clients a month. How can you be good at anything when you only do it twice per month?
What Is Your Medicare Insurance Agent Process in Omaha?
Every salesperson has a process. If they do not have a process, that is their process. Ask your potential Medicare insurance agent to explain his process of working with clients. If he gives you a blank stare or hems and haws, that would not be a positive sign.
This is a little of what my process looks like when a prospective client meets with me for the first time. I take them through a 3 step process.
- Educate them on the basics of Medicare using the Official Medicare Handbook
- Show them the hundreds of supplements and plans with pricing
- Find out about their unique and particular health concerns
At the end of the meeting, I hand them a brochure with the details of the meeting, printouts of the supplements with prices, Medicare Advantage Benefit Highlights sheets, and a prescription drug list run through the Medicare.gov software, along with an email of those materials.
Printed Quotes and Follow Up Phone Calls
As a Medicare Insurance agent in Omaha, I mail them the printed materials again after the meeting. I follow up in a week with a phone call to see if there are any questions or need for clarification. I call and schedule the second appointment when they are in their open enrollment period. We review the Medicare materials again with updated details until they are comfortable making a decision. We complete the paperwork. My office sends a follow-up letter going through the details of what we did in the enrollment meeting. We call within ten days to update the client on the application and give the policy numbers. Then in another ten days, we call to make sure the client has all their cards and customer service phone numbers.
Thirty days after the policy starts, we follow up to make sure everything is going fine with the plan. In another thirty days, we double-check again to see if there are any issues. The following contact is either on a birthday or during the Annual Election Period in October of every year. The client, of course, can all at any time with questions or concerns.
I tell people this is a long-term relationship. ‘Until death does us part.’ I hope you are my client for the rest of your life, and I will be in contact with you during all that time to make whatever adjustments are needed. I have one client who is 102!
Should Medicare Insurance Agents in Omaha Have Testimonials?
I ask many of my clients to share a testimonial for my website. You can see them on the bottom of the home page and the last page of the website. Many say ‘Yes!’
I take their picture and write down what they liked about working with me. My clients are very kind and generous.
Of course, you could say that is very self-serving, so I use Google Reviews. Clients can go to my profile on Google. There is a spot they can click and write a review. You can see those reviews. Google curates them and serves as the third party. I cannot delete or alter them. Those reviews should give you a good idea of how we work and the quality of our work.
Like on Amazon or other companies, you should be able to check an agents’ references. Ask the agent if there is some way to see the quality of their work. With hundreds of clients, a Medicare insurance agent in the Omaha area should very quickly be able to produce some testimonials about his service.
These are some ways to evaluate the quality of your potential Medicare insurance agent.