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Medicare Reset Series Introduction
With Medicare’s Annual Election Period (AEP) only 8 weeks away, I want to “reset” so to speak and get back to some of the basics of Medicare to prepare not only those who will soon be going on Medicare for the first time, but just as importantly, those who are already on Medicare.
I will be providing the schedule of questions that will be addressed in the next seven columns leading up to the start of AEP, which begins October 15th.
But first, I want to get into the history of my agency, The Health Insurance Store, an overview of what we do, services we provide, our business model, and mission.
13 years ago, I decided I wanted to make a career change and put my resume online. I was contacted and recruited by a gentleman to sell individual health and Medicare insurance for the company he represented, MEGA Life and Health. At the time there were approximately 40 million Americans who had no insurance and over 30 million more on Medicare. I thought to myself, “70 million people who can use my help sounds like a good opportunity.” And I took a leap into the field.
After spending a few months getting my license, training, and driving all over Pennsylvania on house calls, a few things occurred to me. Most importantly I discovered that MEGA, the only company I was able to offer as a “captive” agent, was not at all competitive with their rates and coverage. They also didn’t have a good reputation for disclosing the fine print and paying claims in a consistent or timely fashion, which once I discovered ended my tenure with them. One thing I’ve know for certain after 25 years in sales and consulting, if you don’t believe 100% in the product or service you represent, you can never be successful.
I also didn’t feel comfortable traveling to people’s homes and selling policies at kitchen and dining room tables, which at the time was 100% the norm and still is extremely common. It never felt right to get a signature, pack up all my materials, and leave someone’s house with their last view of me being the back of my head and taillights.
I asked myself why is there an agency selling home and auto insurance on practically every corner in every town, but literally no one with a brick and mortar health and Medicare insurance agency? So, I decided to do just that. The Health Insurance Store was founded and opened its first office location in Connellsville on April 1st 2008.
Just having an office wasn’t my only goal. I didn’t want to be limited to offering just a single company’s products. I wanted my agency to be a one- stop shop, where people could compare Medicare Supplements, Advantage Plans, and Part D as well as individual and employer health insurance from every competitive company on the market, ensuring unbiased advice from a local licensed agent.
But the most important aspect of my business model was providing outstanding client service and support. It’s not enough to help people simply choose a plan when they initially go on Medicare or come see us for the first time. So, I created a staff dedicated to advocating for clients whenever they have premium issues, medical or prescription claims denied, received erroneous bills, or any other problem or question that may arise. We don’t expect our clients to fight with insurance companies or providers. That’s our job and we are extremely good at it.
Lastly, our mission is to always advise clients what is best for them100% of the time, regardless if it results in a commission or not. It’s very common for us to let people know they are best to stay with the plan they already have or to choose one provided by a company they work for or retired from. We have advised thousands of people for free and have never charged for a consultation.
The following is a schedule of topics for the next seven weeks. I have put them in an order that I feel will best help people to understand Medicare, the two options in plans one has (Supplements and Advantage), which may be most advantageous, how to choose the best value in plan, and my general advice.
August 31st: How does Original Medicare Parts A and B work? What are Parts C and D of Medicare?
September 8th: What are my options in Medicare plans and how do they differ?
September 15th: What are the pros and cons of both Medicare Supplements and Advantage Plans?
September 22nd: Who is best to choose an Advantage Plan and who is best on a Supplement?
September 29th: What is most important to consider when choosing an Advantage Plan? Which plans and companies are the best?
October 6th: What Supplement and Part D companies and plans are the best and why?
October 13th: What is your advice for those of us already on Medicare as the Annual Election Period is upon us?
You will be able to find copies of the columns shortly after they appear in the Trib on our website. Feel free to reach out to myself or another agent with questions or to schedule an appointment for a no cost consultation. We are employing all safety precautions in our offices including taking temperatures, wearing masks, as well as installing plexiglass at desks and are able to meet with people in person. For those who aren’t comfortable doing an in- office meeting, phone or Zoom appointments are also available.
The column runs every Tuesday on page A7 in the Tribune Review
Email your questions to: email@example.com
This is a guide to prepare for the up coming Medicare Annual Election Period. Click on articles, videos and podcasts dedicated to helping those soon to be new to Medicare and just as importantly those who are already on Medicare.
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