As you approach the milestone of your 65th birthday, it becomes evident that insurance marketers are keenly interested in you. In our experience with thousands of Medicare beneficiaries, we've heard countless tales from clients who were misled by a Medicare agent into selecting a plan that was far from suitable for their needs.
Since we’re right in the middle of the 2023 Annual Election Period, now is a great time to tell you about the five biggest red flags you should be wary of when choosing a Medicare advisor in Arizona or anywhere else in the U.S.
Think the era of door-to-door salespeople has passed? As you approach age 65, it might feel like there's an invisible sign on your lawn shouting, "I’m turning 65! Sell me some Medicare plans!”
While the appeal of a face-to-face interaction is undeniable, caution is crucial. Agents who go door-to-door selling Medicare plans often prioritize their commissions. These agents typically represent a limited range of carriers and, consequently, fewer plan options. This is a glaring warning sign. On average, a beneficiary has access to about 40 different Medicare Advantage plans.
If they present you with just a handful of choices, can they genuinely claim any of them is the optimal fit for your medical needs and financial situation? The reality is they can't ensure that, but they might not disclose this gap in their service.
It's not uncommon for a beneficiary to sign up with such an agent, only to find themselves baffled when it's time to utilize their plan. We've witnessed this scenario repeatedly. And when you reach out to that same agent for clarity, odds are, they're next door, pitching to another potential client, leaving your concerns unanswered.
Avoid being rushed into making a decision based solely on a pleasant doorstep interaction. Conduct your due diligence. It's paramount to remember that post-sale support is crucial when choosing a Medicare plan.
Imagine waiting in line at the pharmacy when you're approached by an insurance agent from a nearby booth. Alarm bells should start ringing! Agents who set up these makeshift stands aim to enlist as many people as they can into their Medicare plans. They identify you as a prime candidate, seeing you're about to spend on prescriptions and might be enticed by potential savings.
However, if they operate primarily from temporary booths and lack a fixed office location, it raises concerns about their ability to consistently support your policy needs. This factor should weigh heavily when considering an insurance agent.
Effective and ongoing policy support is crucial. Medicare might have its complications, and billing offices are not infallible. Our office fields countless queries daily related to claim issues, drug exceptions, Medicare appeals, and much more. Hence, we emphasize having a committed client support team in place to assist you with unforeseen challenges that might arise!
A few doctors opt out of accepting Original Medicare (Parts A and B). It's crucial to understand that physicians aren't mandated to participate in Medicare Advantage plans. If a Medicare representative fails to confirm whether your doctors are affiliated with the Medicare Advantage plan you're contemplating, take that as a bright red flag!
Imagine you sign up for a Medicare Advantage plan without this verification. During a medical visit, your doctor advises an EKG and sends you to an in-house lab for tests. Later, you're hit with multiple bills, and shockingly, your insurance hasn't covered any of the costs. The reason? The omission by your agent to ensure that your chosen physicians and labs were part of the plan's network.
Neglecting this step could either saddle you with the task of scouting for a new doctor or burden you with out-of-pocket expenses for your healthcare. Moreover, did the agent assess if your particular medications are covered under the plan? If they didn't, and your medicines aren't on the plan’s drug list, you could be facing the full costs of your prescriptions.
Such oversights, sadly, aren't uncommon in our experience with clients seeking to switch plans. You can sidestep these expensive blunders by being vigilant and spotting these concerns before committing to a Medicare plan.
Ever been on the receiving end of a call from a 1-800 number alleging to be "Medicare", offering to help modify your current plan? Or maybe your phone has been incessantly ringing after you made an online inquiry about a Medicare quote? Sound the alarms: these are red flags!
To start, it's pivotal to note that Medicare and Social Security infrequently initiate calls to beneficiaries. So, any unsolicited call under the guise of being from Medicare is likely dubious. Your best bet? Disconnect the call immediately!
If you've ever completed an online query for a Medicare quote and subsequently get flooded with calls, it's probably because these agents procured your data from that platform. Their main goal? Secure your enrollment in their plan, pronto!
It's unfortunate but true. Many Medicare ads, especially the online variety, are the brainchild of third-party marketers intending to harvest your data. Why? So they can hawk this information to a slew of agents, regardless of the inconvenience their incessant calls pose to you.
At Local Medicare Specialists, we treat client information with utmost respect and confidentiality. Should you opt to fill out a contact form, rest assured that only our in-house Medicare professionals will get in touch. We're aware that potential clients often hesitate in sharing contact details, apprehensive about the dreaded spam calls.
Our agency, like many others, doesn't represent every insurance carrier across every zip code. Current regulations from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) stipulate that all Medicare insurance agents inform clients of this fact before diving into specific plan discussions. This is a new regulation that went into effect in during the 2022 Annual Election Period.
Here's the mandatory declaration an insurance agent must convey:
“We do not offer every plan available in your area. Any information we provide is limited to those plans we do offer in your area. Please contact Medicare.gov or 1-800-MEDICARE to get information on all of your options.”
If an agent skips this statement, they're flouting CMS directives—a definite red flag. Additionally, be wary of any agent who purports to represent every insurance scheme within your zip code. Except for some unique cases like Alaska, such a claim is almost always far-fetched.
It's imperative to opt for an agent who adheres strictly to CMS regulations and is transparent regarding the carriers and policies they endorse. Our team is committed to recommending only plans that align with your healthcare necessities and financial parameters. For instance, if you're deliberating on transitioning from an employer package, pondering if Medicare might be more economical, we'll analyze the specifics and guide you to the most logical decision—even if it implies forfeiting a potential sale.
Our driving goal is to ensure that you settle on a plan that resonates with your best interests.
Venturing into the Medicare landscape, especially for the first time, can be akin to navigating a labyrinth filled with red flags. It becomes even more challenging when agents feed you precisely the information you desire to hear. Knowing which questions to pose when you're a Medicare newbie is not always intuitive.
Local Medicare Specialists are here to guide you. Our services come at no cost to you, and what sets us apart is our unwavering commitment to providing continual support throughout the duration of your policy.
Schedule a FREE Medicare plan consultation with an agent in your neighborhood.
LocalMedicareSpecialists.com is privately owned and operated by LMS Insurance LLC. LocalMedicareSpecialists.com is a non-government resource for those who depend on Medicare, providing Medicare information in a simple and straightforward way.
We do not offer every plan available in your area. Any information we provide is limited to those plans we do offer in your area which are United Healthcare, Aetna, Humana, Cigna, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona, Centene, Devoted, and Scan. Please contact Medicare.gov, 1-800-MEDICARE, or your local State Health Insurance Program to get information on all of your options.