Medicare, Medicare Advantage, and Medicare Supplements can be overwhelming and confusing. Perhaps even defeating. While Medicare.gov is a good tool for looking up what is available in your loved one’s area and comparing plans, oftentimes it’s not enough and you’re left with important unanswered questions.
Licensed independent insurance brokers
We recommend that if you or your loved one are new to Medicare or are interested in shopping Medicare plans, you contact a licensed independent insurance broker who specializes in these products for a discussion on all the options.
They work with you to narrow the plan choices and find the best fit.
They do not work to increase sales and membership of any one insurance provider.
The services of a licensed independent insurance broker are free to you.
Brokers stay abreast of all Medicare coverage changes and can help your loved one understand what they can expect from their current plan in the coming year, as well as the benefits and drawbacks of switching plans. In many cases, they can work out how much your loved one may spend or save, down to the dollar.
Brokers can also connect you and your loved one with a variety of resources to help you with your decision-making, as well as how to get the most out of the plan selected.
Can I speak with a broker on my loved one's behalf?
If you have a power of attorney (POA) you can work with a broker on your loved one’s behalf and you completely represent your loved one. You can sign the Medicare-required Scope of Appointment and work with the broker to select and purchase a plan on your loved one’s behalf.
If you don’t have a POA, you can still sign a Scope of Appointment and talk with the broker about Medicare products, features, and pricing. You can use this to help your loved one, however, this cannot translate into a plan purchase for your loved one. To enroll, your loved one must sign a Scope of Appointment, select the plan, and make the plan purchase.
What do I need before contacting a broker?
All of your loved one's insurance cards (with Original Medicare there may be several)
Commercial plan card (if applicable, such as with a pension)
Medicare Supplement/Medigap card
Part D prescription drug card
Dental, vision, and hearing plan cards (if applicable)
OR their Medicare Advantage card (typically with Medicare Advantage, there is just one)
Power of Attorney documentation
A complete list of medications (current and accurate, including dosage and frequency) and pharmacy services used
A complete list of providers (doctors) and facilities (hospitals, health systems) your loved one uses/wants to use
Should my loved one change plans every year?
Your loved one may not benefit from changing their plan every year, though experts recommend at least shopping other plans during the Medicare open enrollment period every year because the odds of your loved one being in the most cost-effective and best-fit plan year over year are small.
Shopping is especially encouraged for Part D prescription drug plans. Many people may be surprised by their Part D increases in 2024, in particular.
Can I do all this without a broker?
You and your loved one do not need a broker to shop plans, compare plans, or switch plans. A broker represents a smart and valuable resource to help elevate your awareness about what is available in your area and narrow down the choices according to your loved one’s preferences and budget, as well as provide context and education on things you may not know or anticipate.
To start comparing Medicare Advantage plans, visit Medicare.gov/plan-compare.
Some changes in 2024
The Inflation Reduction Act that was signed back in 2022:
Made changes each year around how drugs are priced in future years.
In 2024, a 5% cost share is being removed on medications for those in the catastrophic phase (over $8,000 in spend), which has implications for how Medicare drug plans are priced.
In any year, plans change a lot, but particularly in 2024, a couple of things have happened:
Part D plan premiums go up year over year (some go down), but there are a lot of premium increases and additional deductibles coming for next year. This may result in surprises for many with their current Part D.
More money went to the Medicare Advantage plans to cover the excess Part D, however, those additional funds were greatly funneled toward other features and benefits, such as dental.
In short, really rich benefits on the Medicare Advantage side, and price increases on the Part D side.