Do become familiar with Medicare.gov
Do use a broker
There are three main ways to sign up for Medicare during the AEP. You can use medicare.gov, work with an agent or use a broker. An agent is a representative of the carrier. They can only present you with their company’s available options. A broker works for you. They are a third party liaison between you and the carrier. They can help you comparison shop different plans offered by different carriers. You will not receive a discount by working with an agent or pay more by working with a broker. Many brokers do not charge an additional fee for their services.
Do provide full information
Whether you use Medicare.gov, an agent or a broker, during the AEP there is certain information that you’ll need to provide. The more detailed and accurate you can be, the better. You’ll need to access to your income and assets to see if you qualify for special programs which can help you save money. Additionally, it’s best to have an understanding of your specific medical needs to pick a plan aligned with them. Finally, you’ll need information regarding your doctors, preferred hospitals, medications and pharmacies to make sure everything is in network.
Don’t be fooled by low premiums
When comparing costs, it’s easy to get lured in by the plan with the lowest premiums. You also need to make sure that the plan’s network and benefits align with your needs. Additionally, look at deductibles, copays/coinsurance and any out of pocket maximums to make sure the plan fits your financial needs. If you find last year’s plan wasn’t a good fit, the AEP is a great time to change plans. Also, make sure to always review your plan during the AEP because benefits can change.
Don’t trade access for benefits
Jesse Smedley is the Principal Broker for iHealthBrokers and the founder, president, and CEO of Smedley Insurance Group, Inc. and iHealthBrokers.com. Since the inception of SIG in 2007, Jesse has been dedicated to helping people save money on their health insurance by providing them with resources to educate themselves on all their health insurance options, both under age 65 and Medicare beneficiaries. He is featured in many publications as well as writes regularly for expert columns regarding health insurance and Medicare.