After working hard for several decades, everyone deserves to enjoy their golden years.
To do that, though, they need to stay healthy. And that starts with having health insurance that enables them to help pay for medical expenses, take advantage of preventative care, and get great treatment when they are sick.
Every day, thousands of Americans turn 65 years old and, as such, are able to start using Medicare, the federal health insurance program that was created in 1965, which provides health coverage to up to 60 million people.
As a health insurance agent, you might have a significant amount of experience dealing with Medicare and helping people enroll. But for the vast majority of Medicare clients, signing up for this form of health insurance is a whole new world—to the point where many of them might not even know where to start.
That being the case, educating clients on Medicare should be a top priority for any insurance salesperson.
Whether you’re selling insurance to individuals or you sell it to companies that offer insurance to their older employees, proactively educating them about Medicare and supplement plans can help you establish yourself as a strategic adviser—and help you sell more insurance because of it.
Who Is Eligible for Medicare?
According to the Department of Health and Human Services, assuming residence qualifications are met and you’ve paid into the system, Medicare is available to the following individuals:
- People over the age of 65
- People with permanent disabilities
- People with end-stage renal disease (i.e., permanent kidney failure)
- People with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or Lou Gehrig's disease
Medicare has two primary components:
- Part A, which is hospital insurance (inpatient)
- Part B, which is medical insurance (outpatient)
It also has two additional components:
- Part C, which is private insurance approved by Medicare (i.e., Medicare Advantage plans)
- Part D, which is prescription drug coverage
And finally, folks can also opt to buy a Medicare supplement insurance policy (Medigap), which can help offset some of the deductibles and coinsurance costs that a Medicare patient might incur.
Those who are over the age of 65 and are either U.S. citizens or permanent legal residents of at least five years are eligible for Medicare. Of this group, those who have paid taxes into the Medicare system for at least 10 years are eligible for premium-free Medicare Part A.
Further, to qualify for Medicare Part C and Part D—or to buy Medigap coverage—people must already be enrolled in Medicare Part A and Part B.
Why It’s Important for Your Clients to Understand Medicare
As you can see, simply explaining who’s eligible for Medicare and what the different parts of Medicare are is a tall order in and of itself. Suffice it to say that the average person would probably have a somewhat difficult time figuring out what Medicare options are available to them and whether they qualify for additional coverage on their own.
Important: Prior to meeting with any Medicare eligible consumer, you must obtain an agreement (Scope of Appointment) from the prospect. A Scope of Appointment form lets you as an agent know beforehand what coverage options are open for discussion, and ensures that no other types of products will be discussed outside of what the beneficiary originally requested.
During the appointment, agents may discuss only those products that were agreed upon in advance.
With that in mind, here are some reasons why it’s important that your clients understand Medicare.
1. They’ll know what coverage options are available
How many people know the difference between Medicare Part A, Part B, Part C, and Part D? How many people can explain the difference between Medicare Advantage plans and Medigap insurance?
According to WellCare Health Plan, not too many.
Seniors, for example, are more likely to shop for cable and internet plans than search for Medicare coverage; only 40 percent of seniors review Medicare plans each year—compared to the 44 percent who review cable plans.
This makes perfect sense: There are only so many hours in the day, and many seniors would probably prefer spending their time doing pretty much anything else—even having a colonoscopy, per that same study.
By educating clients on Medicare, and having the right credentials to sell Medicare, you can help them make sense of a complicated system. As a result, you can become their shortcut for all things Medicare moving forward.
2. They’ll know what benefits come with coverage
Anyone who enrolls in Medicare gets access to a number of free services, including:
- Wellness visits (one per year)
- Flu shots
- Bone mass measurements
- Obesity counseling
- Mammograms (one per year)
- Depression screenings
- Substance abuse/alcohol counseling
- Smoking cessation programs
- Diabetes screenings
Most of those who are eligible for Medicare, those who have Medicare plans, and those who administer them may not be privy to all this information. By educating your clients on all of the free services that come with Medicare, you can help them get the care they need—and help them enjoy healthier lives because of it.
3. They’ll know when the deadlines are for Medicare
Navigating Medicare enrollment deadlines can also be challenging for many Medicare beneficiaries and folks who administer their plans. A recent U.S. News article outlined some of the deadlines for Medicare that neither party will want to miss:
- Initial eligibility begins three months before the recipient turns 65 and lasts for seven months.
- Those who work past age 65 can sign up for Medicare within eight months of retiring.
- Those who are at least 65 and are enrolled in Medicare Part B have six months to enroll in Medigap coverage.
- Recipients can make changes to their Medicare coverage between Oct. 15 and Dec. 7.
- Those who have Medicare Advantage plans can switch plans between Jan. 1 and March 31.
It’s important to know these deadlines because missing them can result in financial penalties or coverage ineligibility.
4. They’ll know who helped them understand the complex web of Medicare
With so many moving parts, understanding the cacophony that is Medicare can be a seemingly insurmountable task to the average person. This is where trusted advisers like you come into play.
By proactively educating your clients on all things Medicare—and helping them understand what options are available to them and the deadlines they won’t want to miss—you do them a tremendous service. Because Medicare coverage renews every year, you increase the chances that they come back your way when the next enrollment period begins.
Now that you understand why it’s important to educate your clients on Medicare, let’s turn our attention to some myths that pervade the Medicare world.
Common Medicare Misconceptions: Ways You Can Educate Your Clients on Medicare
In addition to understanding what kinds of Medicare plans are available, who qualifies for Medicare, and what the Medicare deadlines are, your job as a trusted adviser should also include making sure your clients are aware of some of the more pervasive Medicare myths.
Consider using email marketing, phone calls, blogs, and social media to make sure your clients don’t believe any of these common Medicare misconceptions.
1. Medicare pays for everything
Although Medicare does pay for a lot of things, it doesn’t pay for everything. And in many cases, beneficiaries will have to pay a premium and deductible.
At the same time, Medicare offers a number of free services, which we’ve outlined above. But it doesn’t pay for prescription drugs (unless the individual has Part D), it doesn’t pay for long-term care, and it doesn’t cover dental or vision care (in most cases).
2. Medicare is free healthcare
Although Medicare can help lower healthcare costs considerably, it is not free healthcare. Beneficiaries still have to pay premiums, and—depending on their preferences—they may opt to pay for additional coverage on top of them.
That said, Medicare premiums and deductibles are generally much more affordable than traditional health insurance coverage.
3. Medicare enrollment is flexible
As noted above, there are several deadlines for Medicare that any recipient or plan administrator will need to consider. Generally speaking, people should enroll in Medicare when they turn 65, particularly if they don’t have access to an employer-sponsored healthcare plan. Those who are working need to apply for Medicare within eight months of retiring.
These are just some of the deadlines to keep in mind.
The bottom line? Medicare enrollment—like any other health insurance enrollment—has strict deadlines and is not flexible.
4. Medicare costs the same for everyone
Simply not true! Although many Medicare beneficiaries won’t pay a penny for Part A, Part B costs $144.60 per month in 2020, with a $198 deductible—and those costs increase every year.
Plus, some beneficiaries might opt for Part C or Part D coverage, which costs money, and others may choose to get a Medicare Advantage plan or Medigap insurance. In other words, Medicare does not cost the same for everyone, especially when supplemental products are in the mix.
The Easiest Way for an Insurance Agent to Sell Medicare
Whether you’ve been selling Medicare plans for a while or you’re new to it, you might be thinking that relaying all of this information and matching your clients with Medicare Advantage plans will be an exhausting, time-consuming endeavor. And in many cases, you’d be right.
But with the right tools in place, it doesn’t have to be.
Quotit’s real-time quote and enrolling platform lets your clients compare tons of Medicare plans at their own convenience. That way, they can find the plan that meets their needs best—and, in many cases, without even having to reach out to ask any questions.
To learn more about how you can use Quotit to drive a competitive advantage, generate more leads, and close more Medicare deals, schedule a demo today.