Do you know how NOT to shop for Medicare insurance? Where is the last place to look for information? What is your most useful guide to Medicare insurance options? How do you find reliable information online about Medicare options? Why you should NOT buy direct from a carrier such as Blue Cross, Mutual of Omaha or through a marketing group such as AARP.
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How NOT to shop for Medicare coverage
Most sites and guides tell you how to shop for Medicare insurance. We will tell you how NOT to shop and why.
Many seniors, especially those turning 65, will go online to look for information. Here are some warnings.
- Most sites are data harvesting pages. They collect your information and resell it to insurance agents
- Avoid sites that don’t have “real people” listed as their contact.
- Look for local, real contact information, not just an 800 number.
- Ask your friends but don’t just blindly follow their advice. They probably bought the wrong plan and paid too much,
- Don’t be pushed into making a decision before you are ready. In most cases you have weeks or even months.
- If an agent refuses to discuss or email rates and information, move on to someone else.
- Most information and applications can be handled by phone. Very few require carriers the agent to come to your home.
Now some advice on how to shop for Medicare coverage.
- Local agents that live in Georgia know more about plans and rates than someone calling from another state.
- Make sure you understand the difference in Medicare Advantage (private insurance) and original Medicare and a supplement.
- Look for broad coverage, including plans that allow you to keep your current doctor(s).
- Name brand carriers are OK, but don’t discount coverage from companies that are unfamiliar
- In some parts of Georgia there are as many as 40 different Advantage plans, 30 different drug plans and 170 Medigap plans
- At any one site you will rarely see rates on more than 20 plans
- Medicare.gov is useful in searching Medicare Advantage and drug plans, but only if you know how to use the site
- There are no public or government sites with complete information on Medigap plans
What is the best way to shop for Medicare coverage?
Roy battled melanoma for almost 2 years before qualifying for Medicare. He had a good major medical insurance plan but with medical bills running over $100,000 per year he still had out of pocket expenses of $10,000 each year.
His $600 monthly premium was a stretch but adding in another $800 monthly in out of pocket medical expenses for copay’s, deductibles and coinsurance, Roy was tapped out financially.
The low premium Advantage plans he viewed were attractive but his out of pocket costs were still projected to be over $6,000 per year. Even worse, some of his doctors did not participate in the Advantage plans he considered.
I met with Roy in April before his Medicare benefits began in June. He was very weak from a recent hospital stay, his third one of the year. I listened as Roy and his wife laid out their concerns about Medicare. Which doctors would treat him? How much would his treatment cost? Would he have to satisfy a new deductible? Could he pick a plan and keep it or does he have to go through the process every year?
After listening to their concerns and reviewing my notes, I suggested Medicare supplement plan F and a suitable drug plan. Roy’s monthly premium (including Part B) was less than $250. He could keep all his doctors and have $0 out of pocket for outpatient treatment or hospital stays.
We filled out the paper work on the spot and his application was submitted the same day. Roy’s coverage went into effect on June 1.
Two weeks later Roy was admitted to the hospital for the 4th time that year.
He died less than 3 weeks later.
All of his hospital and doctor bills were paid in full, leaving him debt free with regard to medical bills.
We made it easy for Roy and his wife to shop for Medicare coverage.
That’s what we do.
Roy was a good friend and I miss him dearly. He “found” me on the internet about a year before he was diagnosed with cancer.
At the time he had a Blue Cross plan that was several years old and the premium for his family was $1300 per month. He knew there had to be something better so we had several long conversations, some lasting an hour or more.
After about a month of phone calls and emails, he was ready to make a change, but his wife didn’t want to give up their Blue Cross plan. Even though it was expensive, and going up even more on the next renewal, she felt uncomfortable making a change.
So Roy put her on the phone with me and we talked for maybe 20 minutes. I could tell she was skeptical, but I didn’t push.
She gave the phone back to Roy and we talked some more. I told him I could write a plan just on him and leave his wife with Blue, but he didn’t want to change unless she did too.
About a week later Roy called me back and said they were ready to apply for the new coverage. I took their application by phone and the new coverage was in place two weeks later.
Over the next year and a half they saved over $15,000 in premiums and out of pocket costs. Roy and his wife loved the new plan and told all their friends about the money they saved.
Then Roy got sick.
Even with the high medical bills, they still saved over $8,000 per year vs. their old Blue Cross plan.
We had a lot of conversations during that time, and I coached him on how to save money on his medical bills and prescription drugs. When Roy found out he qualified for Medicare I helped him navigate that hurdle as well.
During the almost 5 years since I first “met” Roy we never met face to face until right before he went on Medicare. Whenever he had a problem, a concern or a question, he would call. If I didn’t know the answer I would research it and get back to him. Often the same day.
Roy lived about 3 miles from my home, yet we never met until he was dying. Still, he trusted me enough to make recommendations and referred several friends my way.
And when Roy was ready to shop for Medicare there was never any hesitation about who to call.
Shop for Medicare coverage the right way
With more than 240 different Medicare options (including 170+ Medigap plans), finding the right plan and helpful guidance is almost impossible. But here is my offer to you.
Give me a call, send an email or get a Medigap quote online instantly. I will give you as much time as you need to get answers to your questions. There is no charge for my time but you will pay a lot more for your coverage than you would if we didn’t talk.
A 15 minute conversation will give you a greater understanding of Medicare than countless hours on the web, attending “seminars” or inviting agents into your home that only want to sell you something and won’t leave until you buy.
Petula Clark recorded the hit “Call Me” in 1965. Don’t be afraid, just call me.
I promise not to sing in your ear but I will do my best to answer your questions about how to shop for Medicare coverage.