Helping people pick the best Medicare plan can be frustrating for them and for you. Medicare has gone through many changes over the past few years. While there is a wealth of information available on the Internet and from other sources, sometimes the sheer volume of information is simply too much for Medicare beneficiaries to digest. Beneficiaries quickly become overwhelmed and frustrated, and either stay with original Medicare or simply close their eyes and pick any Medicare Advantage (MA) plan — regardless of that plan’s suitability in their particular situation.
Brokers can be an invaluable resource to help break through the clutter of information and help people target the Medicare plans that are best suited to meet their individual needs. Following are a few tips to help you become the broker of choice for the Medicare-eligible population in your area.
- Don’t wait until the last minute. Recommend to your clients that they start the process as early as possible. There is a lot of information to consider and a number of plans to review, so you want your clients to feel comfortable and not rushed into a decision. If clients wait until the last minute and then are unhappy about their decision, they can make changes between Jan. 1 and March 31 of the next year. However, before they leave one plan, they need to confirm that the plan they want is accepting new members. Medicare beneficiaries may return to original Medicare at any time — but it’s always better for client relations to help them find the right plan in the first place.
- Help people understand the ABCs (and D) of Medicare. Many people are confused about their options, so make it easy for them. Develop a simple explanation to create a full understanding of the options available to them. It helps your clients realize that you know and understand Medicare and can engender greater trust in your recommendations. Remember:
- Part A usually costs nothing as people have already paid for it through payroll deductions. It covers hospitalizations. In 2010, for beneficiaries who did not pay for Part A in payroll deductions, the premium is $254 per month for people having 30-39 qarters of Medicare-covered employment, and $461 a month for those who have less than 30 quarters of Medicare-covered employment.
- Part B costs about $96 per month in 2010 and covers other medical services, such as doctor’s visits.
- Many people buy Medicare supplemental insurance (commonly referred to as Med supp or Medigap) to cover the services original Medicare does not cover.
- Medicare Part D covers prescription drugs.
A Medicare beneficiary with original Medicare Parts A and B, a Med supp policy, and a stand alone Part D plan may pay $250 or more each month in premiums.