What Is a Medicare Advisor?
Medicare advisors are typically independent agents representing multiple Medicare plan providers. These companies sell Medicare Advantage plans and Medicare Part D prescription drug plans. You can also find free Medicare counseling through State Health Insurance Assistance Programs (SHIP).
What Are Medicare Advisors?
Medicare advisors are insurance agents, Medicare brokers and Medicare underwriters. They work for private companies that are under contract with Medicare to sell certain Medicare plans — Medicare Advantage plans and Medicare Part D prescription drug plans.
Many insurance agents may sell insurance plans besides Medicare. Other advisors may specialize in Medicare plans.
You should look for a Medicare advisor who offers a variety of plans from different providers. Medicare advisors should be unbiased and weigh the pros and cons of various Medicare plans as they apply to your personal situation.
You should shop around and compare Medicare advisors to find one who is well versed in the intricacies of Medicare coverage and who can give you a clear understanding of how each plan he or she sells addresses your specific needs.
How to Find a Medicare Advisor
Before looking for a Medicare advisor, you should first compare plans. You can use Medicare’s plan finder tool to compare plans.
You can then contact companies or Medicare advisors that sell these Medicare plans. To find them, you can search the internet for “Medicare advisors near me.” Or you can go through professional agent associations in your state.
Once you have a list of plans and potential Medicare advisors, you can begin narrowing your options.
You may want to consider an agent or broker who specializes in Medicare plans. A specialist may have more expertise and skill in helping you find the best plan for you.
You should also consider whether the advisor is a captive agent or an independent agent. This can make a difference in getting the best plan for you.
- Captive Agent
- A captive agent is a broker or agent who represents a single company or group of companies. Captive agents are required to sell plans from those companies only or give that company the first right of refusal before offering you other plans.
- Independent Agent
- An independent agent is a broker or agent who works as a contractor representing different insurance companies. Independent agents search the marketplace looking for the best possible plan based on your needs.
You should also make sure your Medicare advisor is licensed in your state and has passed an annual American Health Insurance Plans (AHIP) exam.
AHIP is a trade association of health insurance professionals. Medicare advisors should be AHIP certified and hold other certifications for the particular types of Medicare plans they sell.
What to Expect When You Meet with a Medicare Advisor
A Medicare advisor must get your permission to meet in person and cannot come to your home without an appointment.
If you make an appointment at your home or in the advisor’s office, the Medicare advisor must document the plan options you wish to discuss.
- Give you business cards to pass on to your friends and family
- Provide you with an enrollment form
- Provide you with plan materials
- Talk to you about plan options you agreed to discuss
- Tell you how to get more information on a plan
You have certain rights when meeting with a Medicare advisor. There are certain things an advisor is not allowed to do during your appointment.
- Tell you about other plan options you’ve not agreed to discuss — unless you specifically ask about them
- Ask for names, addresses or phone numbers of friends or relatives
- Ask for your credit card or bank account information
- Ask you to sign an enrollment form before you are ready to enroll in a plan
- Offer you cash, rebates or other inducements to purchase a particular plan
- Pressure you to join a plan
- Sell you any other products that are not health care related, such as life insurance or auto insurance
If your Medicare Advisor fails to follow these rules you should immediately notify Medicare by calling 1-800-633-4227 (TTY users can call 1-877-486-2048).
Where to Find Free Medicare Counselling
You can find free Medicare counseling and assistance through your local State Health Insurance Assistance Programs (SHIP).
SHIP provides unbiased, one-on-one counseling for anyone who is eligible for Medicare as well as their families and caregivers.
6 Cited Research Articles
- U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. (2020, November 19). Agent Broker Compensation. Retrieved from https://www.cms.gov/Medicare/Health-Plans/ManagedCareMarketing/AgentBroker
- O’Brien, S. (2020, October 23). Here Are Tips From Financial Advisors for Getting Your Medicare Coverage Right. Retrieved from https://www.cnbc.com/2020/10/23/here-are-tips-from-advisors-for-getting-your-medicare-coverage-right.html
- Powell, R. (2015, November 29). How Do I Pick an Unbiased, Helpful Medicare Adviser? Retrieved from https://www.usatoday.com/story/money/columnist/powell/2015/11/29/how-do-pick-unbiased-helpful-medicare-adviser/76451114/
- State Health Insurance Assistance Programs. (n.d.). Local Medicare Help. Retrieved from https://www.shiptacenter.org/
- U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. (n.d.). Meeting With Agents One-on-One. Retrieved from https://www.medicare.gov/Pubs/pdf/MeetngAgntsOneonOne_fctsht_ENGLISH_link.pdf
- American Health Insurance Plans. (n.d.). AHIP Designations. Retrieved from https://www.ahip.org/designations/