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March 4, 2024
why you need a medicare insurance agent

Why You Need a Medicare Insurance Agent

Navigating Medicare can be overwhelming if you try to do it alone. Medicare insurance agents can provide invaluable help in comparing plans and choosing coverage that is best suited for your specific needs and budget.

Unlike trying to sort through the options on your own, an agent is an expert in Medicare coverage. They stay up-to-date on the latest regulations and changes to Medicare plans each year. This allows them to answer any questions you may have about what Medicare covers and what options are available to you.

In addition to answering your Medicare questions, an experienced Medicare insurance agent provides guidance on the enrollment process. There are certain timeframes like the Annual Enrollment Period and Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period when you can sign up for or make changes to your coverage. An agent ensures you understand these key windows and deadlines, so you don't miss opportunities to get the best coverage.

Whether you are coming onto Medicare for the first time or looking to adjust your existing Medicare plan selections, having the help of an independent Medicare insurance agent eliminates confusion. They work with you to explore your health needs and assist you in making coverage decisions that provide the security and affordability you seek.

How to Find Independent Medicare Agents Near You

When it comes time to evaluate your Medicare options and enroll in a plan, working with an independent, local insurance agent can provide valuable guidance and expertise. But how do you find qualified Medicare agents in your area? Here are three tips:

You've already Found a Local Medicare Agent Near You

Lehigh Partners Senior Benefits is a local independent Medicare agent that specializes in helping individuals navigate the Medicare system and find the best coverage options for their needs. As an independent agent, they are not tied to any specific insurance company, allowing them to provide unbiased advice and access to a wide range of Medicare plans. With their expertise and knowledge of the local market, Lehigh Partners Senior Benefits can offer personalized guidance and assistance, ensuring that their clients make well-informed decisions when it comes to their Medicare coverage. Whether you're in need of enrollment assistance, plan comparisons, or ongoing support, Lehigh Partners Senior Benefits is committed to providing top-notch service and helping you get the most out of your Medicare benefits.

Check with Local Insurance Associations

Most states have associations specifically for health and life insurance agents. Checking websites of organizations like your state Medicare supplement insurance association can give you a listing of members licensed to sell Medigap plans in your area. This resource is helpful for identifying more niche, specialized agents.

Ask for Referrals

Friends, family members, healthcare providers, and others in your personal network can provide referrals to Medicare agents they have successfully worked with. Especially ask around for recommendations from anyone who has recently gone through Medicare enrollment themselves. Speaking directly with someone who has firsthand experience gives you an opportunity to learn about their experience working with an agent.

Find a Local Agent To Guide You

Navigating Medicare alone can leave you lost and overwhelmed. But you don't have to go it alone.

Talk to an agent

Questions to Ask When Interviewing Agents

Choosing the right Medicare insurance agent is key to getting the most value and best coverage. When interviewing potential agents, here are some important questions to ask:

What companies are you appointed with? You'll want to work with an agent who is appointed by numerous Medicare insurance carriers. This gives them the ability to shop plans from multiple providers to find you the optimal coverage and pricing. Avoid agents who only represent one company, as they can't provide unbiased advice.

How many Medicare plans did you help clients enroll in last year? This tells you how much experience an agent has specifically with Medicare plans. Look for an agent who assisted at least 100 Medicare enrollees in the past year. Newly licensed agents may lack the hands-on experience to guide you through the complexities of Medicare.

Do you sell both Medicare Advantage and Medicare Supplement plans? Make sure the agent is well-versed in all types of Medicare plans, not just Medicare Advantage. Medicare Supplement (or Medigap) plans are important options to evaluate as well. An independent broker familiar with both types of plans can objectively advise you on the best solutions for your healthcare needs and budget.

Look for Proper Licensing and Certifications

Choosing an agent who is properly licensed and certified demonstrates their expertise and commitment to staying up-to-date on Medicare regulations. At a minimum, agents must hold an active health and life insurance license for your state in order to sell and advise on Medicare plans.

Many top performing agents pursue additional certifications beyond the basic licensing requirements. Three of the most common designations to look for are:

  • Certified Medicare Consultant (CMC) - This designation is offered by the National Social Security Association. It requires ongoing education credits focused specifically on Medicare.
  • Certified Senior Advisor (CSA) - This certification is granted by the Society of Certified Senior Advisors. It covers multiple senior health, finance, and lifestyle topics.
  • America's Health Insurance Plans (AHIP) - This certification is accepted by all and required by most carriers if insurance agents want to legally sell Medicare Advantage (MA) or Prescription Drug Plans (PDPs) for the current certification year.

AHIP, CMC and CSA show an agent is invested in expanding their Medicare knowledge. These certifications indicate agents who strive to provide the best guidance and service around Medicare options and enrollment.

When reviewing an agent's credentials, checking for proper licensing and certifications gives you confidence you are working with someone dedicated to Medicare expertise.

Discuss Their Compensation and Fees

Medicare agents are typically compensated through commissions paid by insurance companies for the plans they sell to clients. These commissions are already built into the plan premiums, so there are no additional costs to you for working with an agent.

Some agents may also charge small service fees for their expertise and assistance in researching plans, providing quotes, helping you enroll, and offering ongoing support. These fees vary, but are typically between $0 to $300 depending on the agent and services provided.

It's important to have an open discussion about any potential fees or costs associated with an agent's services before moving forward. Reputable agents will be transparent about their compensation structure so you fully understand what to expect. Ask upfront if there are any fees for meetings, consultations, plan research and analysis, or enrollment assistance. This will help avoid any surprises down the road.

The right agent who helps you select the optimal Medicare solutions can be well worth reasonable service fees. However, you want to make sure you understand all potential costs before deciding to work with a particular agent. An agent who is reluctant to discuss their full compensation may not have your best interests in mind. Seek Medicare agents who are open and honest so you can make an informed decision.

Ongoing Support After Enrollment

Once you enroll in a Medicare plan through an insurance agent, they can provide valuable ongoing support year after year. This continuity of service and guidance can give you peace of mind knowing you have an expert to turn to with any Medicare questions or issues.

Your agent can assist with:

  • Help with claims, billing or coverage questions - If any problems come up with your Medicare plan coverage, bills or claims, your agent is there to help. They can look into the issue, contact the insurance company if needed, and ensure you get quick resolutions.
  • Annual plan reviews - Each fall during Medicare's open enrollment period your agent will reach out to conduct a full review of your Medicare plans. They will assess if your current coverage still meets your needs or if you may benefit from switching plans for the next year. This prevents you from getting stuck in an outdated or suboptimal plan.
  • Continuity and peace of mind - Having a long-term relationship with an agent you trust means you have someone familiar with your specific situation who can offer personalized guidance.

Ongoing Support from Your Medicare Agent

After you enroll in a Medicare plan, your agent provides ongoing support to help you get the most from your coverage. Agents serve as a helpful resource whenever you have questions or concerns about your Medicare plan.

One key advantage of working with an agent is that you have someone familiar with your specific situation who can offer personalized guidance. Your agent can assist with answering claims, billing, and coverage questions as they come up throughout the year. They have experience navigating Medicare and are familiar with your plan details, so they are equipped to address any issues or confusion. This saves you time from having to contact multiple parties or figure things out on your own.

In addition, your agent will proactively reach out as you approach Medicare's Annual Enrollment Period each fall. They will review your current Medicare plan options and prices for the upcoming year. With their expert assistance, you can determine if your existing coverage still meets your needs or if a different plan would be more beneficial. Your agent can educate you on any changes to Medicare plans for the next year and provide side-by-side comparisons to help you make an informed decision.

Establishing an ongoing relationship with an agent you know and trust provides continuity year after year. This gives you confidence and peace of mind that you have someone to turn to for professional Medicare advice now and in the future. You don't have to worry about starting from scratch with a new agent or getting up to speed each year on Medicare changes. Your agent serves as your helpful partner throughout your Medicare journey.

How to Research and Select a New Agent

Researching and selecting a new Medicare insurance agent is an important process. Here are some tips:

  • Ask friends and family for referrals. Your friends and family likely know you well and can recommend an agent who fits your needs and personality. Ask about their experiences working with agents.
  • Research agents' credentials and specialties. Look for licensed agents in your state who specialize in Medicare plans. Check agents' websites and LinkedIn profiles to learn about their background, certifications, services, and approach.
  • Schedule calls/meetings with top choices. Once you've identified a few potential agents, set up introductory calls to discuss your Medicare situation. This gives you a chance to get a feel for their communication style. Consider meeting in-person if possible.
  • Consider communication style and personality fit. The enrollment process requires sharing personal information and asking lots of questions. You want an agent you feel comfortable with and who explains things clearly. Make sure your communication styles mesh well.

Taking the time to carefully research and select a Medicare agent can lead to a great long-term partnership. An agent who truly understands your needs and preferences will provide better, ongoing support.

Questions to Ask Prospective Agents

Finding the right Medicare insurance agent is important to get the coverage and service you need. Here are some key questions to ask when interviewing potential agents:

  • How long have you been in the business? An experienced agent who specializes in Medicare will likely provide better guidance for your situation. Look for 5+ years specifically selling Medicare plans.
  • What Medicare plans do you represent? Agents work with either Medicare Advantage plans only, Medigap only, or a mix. Make sure they can advise you on the plan types you are interested in.
  • Will you review my options each year? Medicare plans change annually, so it's crucial your agent proactively reaches out to compare your current plan to new offerings.
  • How do you prefer to communicate? You'll want to ensure your preferred contact method - phone, email, text, etc - aligns with the agent's. Clear communication is key.
  • What is your client satisfaction rating? Ask for client references or reviews to understand the quality of service received by past clients. Quality agents should have excellent satisfaction rates.

By asking these questions upfront, you can better determine if a prospective insurance agent will understand your needs and provide the level of service you expect. Taking the time to find the right agent gives peace of mind that you have an expert on your side.

Signs It May Be Time to Switch Agents

When you first enroll in Medicare, it's important to find an agent who is responsive, competent, and looking out for your best interests. However, even if you were initially happy with your agent, there are some warning signs that indicate it may be time to consider switching to someone new:

  • Poor communication/unresponsive: If your agent is difficult to reach or takes days to return your calls and emails, this impedes their ability to provide good service. You need someone who is readily available to answer questions.
  • Makes errors submitting paperwork: Submitting accurate paperwork is a key part of an agent's job. If they've made mistakes on your forms that cause issues, it shows a lack of care.
  • Doesn't proactively notify you of key dates/changes: A good agent keeps clients updated on important Medicare deadlines, open enrollment periods, and policy changes that could impact coverage. If your agent fails to inform you of essential updates, they are not looking out for you.
  • Persistently suggests unsuitable plans: Agents should take the time to understand your specific healthcare needs and prescription drug coverage requirements. If your agent keeps promoting plans that are a poor fit, they may not have your best interests in mind.

Having an agent you can trust and rely on for support makes a big difference when navigating Medicare. Keep an eye out for any of these red flags as cues that it may be time to switch to an agent who will provide better service.

Connect with Lehigh Partners Senior Benefits today

Their licensed agents have guided hundreds of local Medicare enrollees. Let them match you with the right plans and provide ongoing support.

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Compare Medicare coverage options with the help of one of our agents:

Talk to us: (833) 265-9655 

Medicare brokers such as Lehigh Partners get paid by the insurance companies they represent. And you pay exactly the same rate for your insurance if you use a Medicare consultant (broker). There is no extra fee or cost for enrolling through a broker. You will never pay a fee for our help.

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