- A Medicare advisor can be an independent agent who’s licensed to sell Medicare insurance plans on behalf of one or more insurance companies. Learn about how trusted Medicare advisors, brokers or agents can help you find the best plan for your needs and your budget.
Medicare can be complex and confusing, and even just a small amount of good advice can go a long way in helping you secure the best Medicare insurance for your health care needs and budget. That’s why many people who are new to Medicare lean on Medicare advisors (sometimes also called Medicare brokers or Medicare agents) for help.
What Is a Medicare Advisor?
Medicare advisors can be independent insurance sales agents representing one or multiple different Medicare plan providers (insurance companies), or they can be insurance brokers who work on behalf of a Medicare beneficiary.
Medicare advisors may also work for agencies that provide free counseling and assistance to Medicare beneficiaries. These types of Medicare advisors are typically non-profit organizations that offer their services for free.
How Is an Insurance Agent a Medicare Advisor?
A Medicare insurance agent can do so much more than just simply sell you a policy. A good agent will gather Medicare plans from several different carriers that sell insurance in your area, and they’ll go over the details of each one with you. The agent can help you understand the costs associated with each plan and review the benefits.
If you have a health condition that requires specific treatments, an agent can help you find a plan that is well-catered to those needs. Or they may help you find a plan that is accepted by your closest pharmacy and favorite doctors.
An agent can also help you determine which type of Medicare plan is best for your needs. For example, would you be more likely to benefit from a Medicare Advantage (Medicare Part C) plan or a Medicare Supplement Insurance (Medigap) plan? And if the answer is Medicare Advantage, would you prefer an HMO, PPO or some other plan structure?
There’s a lot to learn about Medicare, and it’s typical for new beneficiaries to have a lot of questions about what Medicare covers and how it all works. A valuable agent will take the time to answer your questions, help you better understand Medicare and offer professional advice.
When working with an agent, be mindful of how many insurance companies the agent represents. An agent who only represents one company will naturally want to steer you toward that company’s plans, because that’s the only way he or she will make a commission. In that case, the advice they give you may not be totally objective. These types of agents are called “captive” agents.
But an agent who represents multiple different insurance companies is less likely to be biased with their advice, as they will have a more diverse portfolio of plans and thus more opportunities to make their sale. These agents are referred to as “independent” agents.
One example of licensed Medicare insurance agents are the agents you can speak to when you call MedicareAdvantage.com, which is one of the largest direct-to-consumer sellers of Medicare insurance in the country and represents several of the leading insurance carriers. MedicareAdvantage.com sells and advises on Medicare Advantage and Medicare Part D.
Another example of a licensed Medicare insurance agent who sells other types of Medicare products are the agents you can speak to by calling MedicareSupplement.com. MedicareSupplement.com sells and provides advice for Medicare Supplement Insurance (Medigap) on behalf of a number of insurance companies, such as Aetna, Mutual of Omaha, Cigna and Humana.
Are Insurance Brokers Medicare Advisors?
“Agent” and “broker” are often used interchangeably, but the titles can mean different things. While an agent acts on behalf of an insurance company, a broker typically works on behalf of the customer.
A broker can work with you to understand your health care needs, budget goals, preferred doctors and more and will then recommend some options, help negotiate a rate and assist in the enrollment process. Unlike an agent, a broker may charge a fee to the customer in exchange for his or her service.
Brokers are often local and can be found through accountants and attorneys or through an internet search.
How Do Non-Profit Organizations Serve as Medicare Advisors?
Agents and brokers are both in the business of selling or negotiating insurance policies and will typically provide plenty of advice along the way.
But there are also some non-profit organizations that serve as Medicare advisors. These organizations provide free assistance with Medicare questions, enrollment help and more. They are typically staffed by volunteers who dedicate their time to helping fellow Medicare beneficiaries.
A few examples of such organizations are:
Each state has its own State Health Insurance Assistance Program, or SHIP. These programs provide free, unbiased, one-on-one counseling and assistance to beneficiaries, their families and caregivers to help people better optimize their benefits and care.
Medicare Rights Center
This national non-profit consumer service organization provides counseling and advocacy, educational programs and public policy initiatives to ensure affordable health care for older adults and those with disabilities.
The official government website for Medicare from the Centers of Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) publishes lots of information about Medicare benefits, costs, coverage and more. Beneficiaries may contact CMS Medicare advisors by phone or live online chat to ask Medicare questions and request information.