The third major mistake is shopping for a plan, when you should be shopping for an agent.
There are some shoppers that have figured this out on their own and have intuitively avoided making these three mistakes. They know they are confused by the brochures that jam their mailboxes, so they toss them as fast as they arrive. They don’t want to talk to someone in Kalamazoo, so they seek to find an agent to help guide them through the Medicare maze.
However, the majority of shoppers are still mistakenly shopping for a plan rather than a good agent.
If you are approaching 65 and will soon be on Medicare, it is logical to think that you want some sort of a Medicare plan. You look at the brochures that arrive in your mailbox and maybe even call some of the 800 numbers. On more careful consideration, this is like getting the law books out when you have a legal matter instead of shopping for a good attorney.
There are those shoppers that believe that if they go through enough agents, they will magically find the perfect plan. The irony about those types of folks is this: They are usually the ones that fall victim to the fast-talking, pandering agent. They often don’t recognize good advice when they hear it.
Finding a qualified insurance professional saves you much grief in another way. Countless Medicare supplement shoppers have gone to a friend, the senior center, the Council on Aging, calling 800 numbers, and who knows what else, only to get the wrong and often contradictory information. Working with a pro-agent from the get-go saves you all of that frustration.
I was an educator for 22 years. From the standpoint of instructional technology, the way that this Medicare maze is being presented to Medicare recipients is worse than abysmal!
In a classroom setting, good teaching technique says that the teacher should present one concept at a time to his or her students. When they master that step, the teacher presents the next step and so forth. For example, in teaching geography, the teacher will present the concept of “latitude” first to her students. When they have mastered that, she continues with “longitude”. Good teaching progresses one step at a time.
Bad teaching throws multiple concepts into the very first lesson. Imagine trying to learn about latitude, longitude, parallels, meridians, date lines, equator, Tropic of Cancer, Capricorn, etc, etc, all at one time. It likely will turn into one big mish-mash, with the result that many students will be totally confused and passionately hate geography lessons.
As your 65th birthday approaches, you will be inundated with a tidal wave of information. There are Medicare supplements, Medicare Advantage, Part D prescription plans, Medicare Advantage plans with built in Part D benefits, and a dizzying number of choices in each category to choose from. A good agent can explain each concept one at a time and help you understand which option best suits your needs.
Going through that Stack of Stuff can or will put most people on mental overload! You don’t have to do it, as there is a much better way.
Isn’t your objective to simply understand the Medicare maze so that you can make a smart decision that you are comfortable with? Assuming that’s a YES, here’s what to do.
Be Smart and be Clever
Make yourself a SPAM Box. It could look like this:
The majority of you are now hooked up to the internet and have email. Most all email servers have SPAM filters. You want to read the emails from your kids and grandkids and see their pictures and not waste time going through the SPAM. Just as email servers have their criteria for what emails get dumped into your SPAM Box, you do likewise with your Stack of Stuff. Once you have made your final selections and are happy with them, then you can empty your SPAM Box without any reservations.
Candidates for your SPAM Box:
(Keep in mind that you can always go back and retrieve these items.)
• Just about all company mailings.
• Pieces from pharmacy chains.
• Agent pieces that mention a particular insurance company or its rates. Note: As soon as that company goes up 15%, those agents are onboard with the next lowball company.
• Seminar invitations if that is not your thing.
• An agent mailer that appears to be poorly done.
• An insurance company that has an affinity relationship with your fraternal order, union, club, religious group, or association.
These go in your Inbox:
• Your “Medicare and You” booklet.
• The envelope from CMS that has your Medicare card and related information. Very helpful is the 31 page red, white, and blue Welcome to Medicare Booklet. It offers good, basic information to help you get started. Click image below to view.
• Other mailings from CMS which might include a survey for Medicare recipients.
• Any other piece with a government return address. It could be very important.
• A quality postcard or other piece from an independent insurance professional if you are shopping for a good agent.
• Seminar invitations, if that is your thing.
Okay, so you’re now convinced that you should be shopping for an agent. Here is what to look for.