Medicare Enrollment ends Dec. 7

Medicare Enrollment ends Dec. 7

Given that Medicare can seem like a confusing web of options, it’s no wonder that many consumers rely on licensed professionals for help. In fact, according to a recent study, nearly 20 percent of Medicare seniors worked with a licensed professional last year.

Licensed professionals, also referred to as insurance agents or brokers, undergo hours of training and are required to pass licensing and carrier exams so they have deep knowledge and expertise on Medicare plans.

These agents can help with many activities such as explaining the differences between Medicare Supplement and Medicare Advantage plans, comparing benefits and prices, checking if primary care providers or preferred hospitals are in-network, if certain prescription drugs are covered and helping individuals apply for assistance with medication costs.

In Alameda County, there are 20 Medicare Advantage plans, 32 Part D prescription drug plans, and 45 carriers offering Medicare Supplement plans for 2020. Despite improvements to www.medicare.gov’s Plan Finder tool, the website falls short in providing an accurate assessment of one’s options.

For those who turn to an agent or broker, it’s worthwhile making sure the person provides an objective opinion. Be aware that if you call a number on an ad seen on TV or elsewhere, the agent on the other end of the phone might sell plans only for one insurer. This means you won’t hear about options that might be better-suited to your individual situation.

“Brokers should speak to clients about all options, not just the plans they represent,” said Emma Beck, head of operations at Calyx Advantage, a Medicare-focused insurance agency in the Alameda South Shore Center. “If the client is going to save, say $300 a year, the broker should recommend the plan even if they can’t help them directly.”

Insurance agents do not charge for their services, but instead are paid a fixed commission by the insurance carrier if they enroll an individual in a plan. The commission rates are regulated by the government so there is no real incentive for an agent to push one plan over another. Furthermore, Medicare beneficiaries pay exactly the same for their insurance as if they had signed up directly with the insurance company. 

Calyx Advantage works with all the major insurance carriers in the area and provides ongoing support throughout the year, not just during Medicare’s enrollment period which ends Saturday, Dec. 7. Calyx Advantage has already saved Bay Area seniors $91,087 on their Medicare seniors with a goal to reach $100,000 in savings by Dec. 7. 

 

Shaily Gupta works with Calyx Advantage to provide objective, unbiased guidance on which Medicare plans will help save money and provide better coverage. To schedule a free consultation, call 474-0515 or visit www.calyxadvantage.com.