Five Advantages of Using an Independent Medigap Broker

Independent Medigap brokerThere are many advantages to using an independent Medigap broker. These may not be readily apparent to someone who does not fully understand how the back end of the insurance “business” works, but these advantages are significant and they can mean more money in your pocket.

First of all, let’s establish that there are two basic ways to sign up for a Medigap plan. Unlike Part D, you cannot sign up for a Medigap plan directly through Medicare or on Medicare’s website. The two ways to sign up for a Medigap are directly through an insurance company or through an independent agent who represents that company (among others). Signing up directly through the company is certainly an option, and either way, you’ll receive the same rate, same benefits, same claims processing, etc. However, here are five advantages of using an independent Medigap broker that may make that option more advantageous for you.

1. The independent broker is just that, independent, so they can assist in compiling and comparing all options in a centralized place. While this seems like it would be easy for a consumer to do on their own, anyone that has attempted it can tell you, it is a tiresome task. First, all rates are not published online – some may be, but there are questions about whether the website is up to date and whether all options are reflected. What an independent broker can do is compile and present all options in a centralized place.

2. An independent broker can also provide virtually unlimited and unbiased expertise from their dealings with the various Medigap plans. For us, we represent 30+ companies in 40+ states, so we have clients with many different companies. We have seen how stable companies rates have been over time, what problems/issues clients have had and which companies have maintained a strong position in the marketplace.

3. Once you have the rates and information, an independent broker assists by answering questions that you have about how the plans work and what they cover. Again, this is information that can be obtained by thorough reading of Medicare’s materials, but anyone who has done it can tell you, that again, that is not an easy task.

4. After you have understood the plans and chosen one, an independent broker can provide service after the sale. This can take many forms, but the certainty is that, because agents are compensated on an ongoing basis, it is to their advantage to consistently “service” you and your policy. Many other brokers, including us, also offer added services for clients. For example, we offer annual Part D plan reviews, Medicare informational newsletters, and periodic rate snapshots of Medigap rates.

5. The fifth advantage of using an independent Medigap broker is one many people do not realize… You are already paying for a broker, whether you use one or not – it doesn’t cost you anything to use one – so why not capitalize on your premium dollars and use a broker’s expertise. In other words, companies build in the broker’s pay into their premiums, so all policyholders “pay” agents as part of their premiums.

Whether it is us or someone else, it is unquestionable that using an independent broker has many advantages and facilitates and more informed decision. Signing up directly through an insurance company is an option, but by doing so, you would not have access to the unbiased comparative functions offered by an independent broker. Additionally, in most cases, you would be dealing with someone who is not as qualified/experienced specifically in this market. And, lastly, the likelihood that you would deal with the same person over time is not nearly as high (higher turnover and usually you’re calling an 800 to a call room somewhere for service/questions).

If you have questions about this or how using an independent Medigap broker works, please contact us at 877.506.3378 or on our website.

How to Make the Right Medigap Choice

logo-collage-smallChoosing the right Medigap plan can be a time-consuming and overwhelming process if you allow it to be. While there is a lot of information out there and a lot of people and companies vying for your “attention”, choosing a Medigap policy does not have to be difficult. Follow this three-step guide to narrowing the choices, reducing the clutter and selecting the plan that is right for you.

  1. Understand the plans. First of all, you must have an understanding of the plans – what they cover, how they work and what is important in the decision-making process. The first thing to know is that the plans are Federally-standardized. That is, all companies provide the same coverage plans – a Plan F with one company is the same as a Plan F with another company. Additionally, the plans all work the same way. Claims are automated (paid electronically without involvement from the patient), and they are done through the Medicare “crossover” system. Lastly, all plans can be used at any doctor or hospital that takes Medicare. In other words, as long as a physician takes your primary coverage (Medicare), they will take your Medigap plan regardless of what Medigap company sold you the plan.In summary, and the main thing to understand when it comes to Medigap plans, is that there are no differences to compare as far as coverage, reliability, how the plan works, where you can use it, etc. The two factors to compare when it comes to Medigap are price (first and foremost) and company rating/reputation. The Federal standardization of plans has made the other variables non-existent or irrelevant.
  2. Compare the rates. Once you understand “what” to compare, it is time to actual do the comparing. There are a couple of ways to do this. The “old-fashioned” way is to get the phone numbers of all companies offering Medigap plans in your area and call them and ask their rates. Some companies will give you this information over the phone; some will require that an agent come to your house to meet with you prior to giving you the information. For most people, this way of doing it is not appealing. However, it is an option.The other way of going about it – which I believe most people would find preferable – is to use an independent agent, or broker, to compare the plans. An independent agent does not work specifically for one particular insurance company, so they are not going to try to “sell” you on their company. Instead, they can give you unbiased information of what company’s offer competitively priced plans in your area. Additionally, they can provide other information such as company rating, past rate stability and reputations, which may help you narrow down the choices and make an informed decision.Keep in mind that the main thing to compare when it comes to Medigap (Medicare Supplement) plans is the rates, as plan coverage is completely standardized by the Federal government. A good independent agent can provide a full breakdown of the companies that offer companies in your zip code, as well as what the rates would be for someone at your age.
  3. Choose wisely. Once you have the information that pertains to premium rates and company rating/reputation, you can easily narrow the choices to which reputable companies are competitively priced for your area. While many people know about Plan F, which is the most common plan, it is not always the most wise choice. It is the most comprehensive but also the most expensive. Plan G is an alternative that typically would provide a savings when compared to Plan F – under Plan G, you have to pay a $147/year deductible but that’s the only difference between ‘F’ and ‘G’ and the premium savings is often $300+/year resulting in a significant net savings.Once you choose a plan, it is easy to enroll, particularly if you are in an “open enrollment” period (i.e. turning 65 or just going on Medicare). Simply complete an application, which the independent agent can facilitate either online or by phone, then the application will be processed by the insurance company. You’ll receive an insurance card and policy in the mail.

While signing up for a Medigap plan is an overwhelming charge for many people, it does not have to be. The standardization of Medigap plans and the proliferation of information available online has made comparing and choosing a Medigap plan much easier than choosing most other types of insurance.

If you would like a listing of the companies/rates in your area or have other questions, you can contact us online or call 877.506.3378.