Today's topic is all about recognizing bad Medicare advisors (because there’s plenty of them out there!). We’re going to help you avoid bad advisors by uncovering the five red flags you need to watch out for when selecting your Medicare advisor. 

Why Medicare Advisors are Important

When you enroll in Medicare, there are numerous decisions you have to make, from deciding when is the best time to enroll, to picking additional coverage plans and avoiding penalties. These decisions affect your future and could end up costing you dearly, so for this reason, most people wisely decide to get professional help for the Medicare process. 

But the problem is, not all Medicare advisors are the same. Some advisors are very good, while some are just plain terrible. And since your Medicare advisor is going to determine what your coverage and benefits look like and how your overall Medicare experience will go, you can’t afford to pick the wrong advisor. So to help you avoid a bad Medicare advisor, let’s dive into the five red flags you need to look out for when choosing a Medicare advisor. 

Red Flag #1: Online Quote Request Forms

The first red flag you need to watch out for is the online quote request form. If, in your search for an advisor, you come across an opportunity to get a quote online, don’t proceed if the online quote asks for your personal information. When you give these types of online forms your information, a lead generation company gathers it and sells your info to agents. 

In fact, they'll most likely sell your information to about 20 to 40 different agents around the country. Which means pretty soon, you can expect to receive countless calls every day from agents all over the country wanting to sell you an insurance plan. If you don’t want to be bombarded with sales calls, do not fill out online quote forms! 

Red Flag #2: Captive Call-Center Agents

The second red flag you’ll want to watch out for are captive call-center agents. When you directly call an insurance company to inquire about buying a plan on Medicare, you reach a call center owned by a large insurance company and staffed with captive agents. What are captive agents?

Captive agents work for one single insurance company. This means they can only offer you a few different plans sold by their particular company. You may be in a market that offers 25 to 30 different plan options, but you’ll never find this out when talking with a captive agent. Instead, you’ll have to pick a plan from only two to three different options. 

Many people think they’re going to get a better price on a plan by directly calling an insurance company. The truth is, when you buy an insurance plan on Medicare, no matter who you buy the plan from, the price is always the same. So not only are you limiting your options and most likely working with an inexperienced call center staff agent who can’t provide much help, you aren’t even saving yourself any money. 

That’s why we advise everyone to work with an experienced, non-biased broker. Brokers can give you access to all your market plan options and they typically have much more knowledge of Medicare and insurance, meaning they can help you throughout the whole Medicare process. 

Red Flag #3: Door Knockers and Trunk Workers

The third type of Medicare advisors you want to avoid are the door knockers and trunk workers. Door knockers are the people who show up on your doorstep unannounced and uninvited, pressuring you to buy a plan from them. The reason they knock on doors is that the insurance company they work for knows some people will make an immediate, impulsive decision to buy a plan. You don’t want this to be you. 

Though door knockers are typically friendly people, they are very pushy and have only one goal in mind--to sell you a plan. They aren’t there to help you through the Medicare process or make sure you get the best coverage possible. Instead, you’re just another potential sell for them. 

Trunk workers are those that come to your house because you invited them. They will sit at the kitchen table (armed with a spiel and a briefcase of plan options to sell you), and try to convince you to buy their plans from the comfort of your own kitchen. The problem with these types of insurance salespeople is that they are almost always newbies. 

Think about it, why would some guy in the insurance business be working out of the trunk of his car? Where is his office and why didn’t he ask to meet you there? Most experienced insurance people would never conduct business out of their car trunk or enter into strangers’ homes to try to sell them a plan. This is the mark of a newbie, and if you hope to get experienced Medicare help and enroll in the best plan for your needs, avoid doing business with trunk salespeople. 

Red Flag #4: Charging for “Unbiased Medicare Advice”

The fourth red flag you need to look out for are advisors who charge you for what they call “unbiased Medicare advice.” This is actually one of the newer gimmicks in the Medicare field today. Here’s how it usually works: An insurance agent comes to you and says they are not biased in any way because they don't make any commissions from the insurance company. In exchange for their unbiased help, they will charge you a fee. Sounds reasonable, right? Wrong. 

The truth is, almost everybody in the Medicare field today is unbiased. The only biased ones are those that work for one company (captive agents). If an agent works for Humana, they're biased towards them. If they work for Aetna, they're biased to Aetna. But again, these captive agents are the only biased ones. So you end up paying someone $700 to $1,000 to give you “unbiased Medicare advice” when in reality, you could have someone else (like a broker) do the same thing for free. 

Brokers offer their planning services for free because the insurance company will pay them. And all insurance companies offer comparable rates to brokers, meaning brokers get paid the same amount no matter which plans you decide to go with. So they are always unbiased. 

Red Flag #5: Get the Sale Vs. Relationship

The fifth and final red flag you have to look out for when seeking a Medicare advisor are advisors who focus only on the sale. Some advisor’s only goal is to sell you a plan (and quickly!) and then move on to the next sale. These types of get-the-sale advisors are rarely ever heard from again. 

Relationship-focused advisors, on the other hand,  will help you through the entire Medicare process. They will get to know your individual needs and concerns, find out about your pre-existing conditions and life situation, and be available for years to come. This is the type of advisor you want. 

If your advisor doesn’t ask you questions like “What exact medications are you taking?” or “Where do you want your prescriptions to be filled?” they are more than likely only focused on the sale. You want an advisor willing to go into the details with you to make sure you get the best Medicare benefits for your future. 

Conclusion

Picking a Medicare advisor is a very important choice. Your Medicare advisor is going to determine what your coverage and health benefits look like and how your overall Medicare experience will go. This is why you need to watch out for the five red flags we outlined above so you can pick the right Medicare advisor.

We understand how difficult making the right Medicare decisions can be. To take the next step, watch our full course here, or schedule a free one-on-one call with a certified Medicare School Guide who can answer your questions, compare plans options, and even help you enroll. Click here to get started.

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