Everyone can use a helping hand when navigating unfamiliar territory—particularly when the complex terrain in question is something as important and personal as health care.
When it comes to Medicare, a licensed agent can help you choose the plan that best suits you—especially if you’re crunched for time. Medicare Open Enrollment ends Dec. 7, so the deadline to make changes to your 2018 coverage is fast approaching. If you’ve been putting off making a decision about a Medicare plan, here are five reasons you may want to consider working with an agent.
1. Agents Can Help You Find a Plan to Fit Your Needs
While people are increasingly doing their own research online, many find it helpful to consult with a trained expert before making a final decision. Agents can guide you through the process and help you select a Medicare plan that fits both your health care needs and your budget.
“As an agent, I’m here to help you understand Medicare,” said Alandra Mothorpe-Boyle, an independent agent who works in the Denver area. “We’ll go through your health status, your health and financial priorities, and then research the plans together, so you feel educated and comfortable when you ultimately choose your plan.”
Agents can help you pick a Medicare Advantage plan that bundles prescription drug coverage with additional benefits such as dental, hearing and vision coverage or a gym membership. They can also help you find a stand-alone Medicare Part D plan.
2. Agents Can Help You Beyond Open Enrollment
Life happens, and your health care needs may change over time. An agent can answer questions about how those changes may affect your coverage needs.
“Open enrollment isn’t the only time I talk to my clients. It’s often just the start of an ongoing working relationship over many years,” Mothorpe-Boyle said. “Things change as people age, and agents can provide support through those changes. People can reach out with questions, and when open enrollment rolls around in the fall, we can make whatever plan changes might be needed.”
Medicare plans can also change from year to year, and an agent can give you a quick rundown of what may be different in your plan and whether you may benefit from switching to another.
3. Agents Can Save You Time
There’s a lot of information online about Medicare, and it can take a long time to sift through and understand the details.
“Many of my clients do a lot of research,” Mothorpe-Boyle said. “But there are so many plans out there that even those who do their homework can miss things, or need a little extra help understanding certain details.”
Online resources such as UHCMedicarePlans.com or Medicare Made Clear are a good place to start on your own. Before meeting with an agent, put together a list of your doctors, prescriptions and any questions based on your research.
4. An Agent’s Services Are Free to You
Agents do not charge their clients. They receive a commission from the company that provides the plan you choose, so engaging with an agent comes at absolutely no cost to you.
5. There Are Many Ways to Find an Agent
Agents often host educational events on Medicare and visit senior centers, so look for events in your area. There are also online resources, such as UnitedHealthcare’s website, where you can type in your ZIP code to find a local agent.
Word of mouth is also a good way to find an agent, so ask your friends and relatives if they can recommend someone.
The Bottom Line
Choosing a Medicare plan can be a complex decision, and it helps to have a guide, especially if you’re crunched for time.
“It’s nice to have someone local you can call,” Mothorpe-Boyle said. “Local agents know the plans, and they want to help.”
Plans are insured through UnitedHealthcare Insurance Company or one of its affiliated companies, a Medicare Advantage organization with a Medicare contract and a Medicare-approved Part D sponsor. Enrollment in these plans depends on the plan’s contract renewal with Medicare.