January 20, 2022
Medicare Help: Everything You Need to Know
Your Gainplan team asked if they could borrow a blog from our website so that they could deliver some good Medicare information to you all.
My first reaction was, “sure” and my second reaction was “you know, not many firms out there ask for good content for the clients soooo let’s give them something special.” You’re fortunate to work with a firm that goes the extra step to bring good things to you all.
My firm called Giardini Medicare does Medicare. What do I mean when I say that? Here’s a quick outline of what we do:
1. Assess the need. Medicare at times is no different than other “products.” Do you need it? When people turn 65 years old in the U.S., they often incorrectly presume that they have to go enroll into Medicare or else something bad will happen. Sometimes it will (late enrollment penalties) and oftentimes it won’t (why pay for extra coverage that you don’t need). So, one of the most important steps to take as you approach age 65 is to answer the question: Do I need Medicare when I’m eligible? Do I want Medicare when I’m eligible? Here’s a great piece provided by the government that can help you determine on your own if you need or want Medicare coverage.
2. If it’s determined by yourself and our team that you indeed do need to enroll into the Medicare health insurance system, then we’ll start helping you get there. Remember that this part here is with the government. When you enroll into Medicare Part A and/or B, that is for coverage provided through the federal government. There are several ways to apply for this coverage in the proper manner, and that’s where we can help. We coach people through what works, what paperwork you need, what timing you’ll need to consider, and more. Remember, however, that we do NOT work for the government so we’re your coach in this area and do all that we can do to help. At the end of the day, there is a method to the madness of enrolling into the system and we can get you there.
3. After a person has been enrolled into the government’s portion of Medicare, we then work with them to round out their coverage. They’ll need to enroll into a Medicare Advantage plan OR purchase a Medicare supplement (aka Medigap). Depending on which path a person takes, we’ll provide them with Part D prescription plans to go along with their Medigap or perhaps a cancer policy to go along with their Medicare Advantage plan. We provide coverage through all of the top carriers in Michigan such as AARP/UHC, BCBSM, Priority Health, Aetna, HAP, and more. (Tip: you can certainly call the carriers directly to enroll but you will then have no agent to help you in the future. Agents will offer considerable help so be careful in calling a carrier directly. You also save zero by calling directly. So, a good agent will cost you zero.) Agents are compensated by the insurance carrier as they enroll you into your plans. That is how we are paid; there is no cost to work with agencies like ours. Think about your auto insurance agent, you don’t pay them extra to help you find a good plan.
4. Future service: Our agency then assists our clients with all things Medicare. That could be questions about their Medicare bill, billing questions related to their plan, they lost an ID card, they need help choosing a new prescription plan in the fall. The areas to provide help are endless. We have a service team designated to problem solving and our clients have access to that service team.
That’s a quick overview of what we do. Let me talk for a few minutes about who we can help.
We can help anyone that is transitioning into the Medicare system for the first time. This means that they might be turning 65 and need Medicare, or they are 68 years old and retiring and have to figure out how to set up their Medicare coverage. We can also help people that have been on plans for several years but might want to change a plan (if they are healthy enough to do so, we may be able to help).
We work with people that, for example, may have retired as salaried workers from Ford Motor Company or GM. As they retire, they often qualify for a stipend to help pay for some of their Medicare costs. We help them use those funds and enroll into plans since they do not have any retiree medical coverage available to them.
We work with people that have purchased their own coverage directly through a carrier or through the marketplace/ACA. These people need to enroll in Medicare at age 65 so we help them transition.
But there are also groups of people that we (and other agents) can’t help.
School teachers in the state of Michigan, for example. They have access to a retiree program, and they must work with ORS to become enrolled, etc. Our agency doesn’t and can’t manage that plan. Municipalities – often people that retire from these situations will also have retiree medical coverage, so they are a group that we aren’t able to help. Union workers – the Big Three union workers will generally have access to the UAW Trust and their retiree coverage.
Those are examples of groups of people that don’t need an agent’s help; they need to contact the proper administering office to arrange their coverage. Agents can’t do anything to provide assistance as we don’t work for those independent plans.
We’re also a virtual agency. So, if you’re OK with email and phone consultations, we’re a good fit. If you need a person to be in your home at the kitchen table to set up your coverage? That’s not how we work but we’re happy to help you find someone that can do that (we know lots of local Michigan agents).
Let’s circle back for a minute as to WHY Medicare discussions are so important and why Gainplain would like some information posted about it.
Healthcare is expensive over a lifetime. People are often very surprised when they meet with us and learn the true costs of Medicare. So, you really need to understand as you enroll what those costs are.
Mistakes are very often made. People that try and set up their Medicare alone often make mistakes and often, those mistakes become unfixable. We like to help people transition to the Medicare system and get things done the proper way right out of the gate. If you choose one product, you may not realize that you may not have the opportunity to change plans down the road, which is contrary to what your friends may tell you, what the TV might tell you in the fall during enrollment time, or what an agent may even tell you. Some agents only present one product. Be careful when you begin and go through your Medicare journey.
I know this piece really doesn’t teach you about Medicare products nor maybe answer many of the questions that you have. However, the goal here is to help you understand that Medicare is a process. Don’t stress about it because we’re here to help if you’d like. We often hear “I didn’t know there were people like you out there”. Well, we’re out there.
Give yourself a few months to study a bit, have a phone call or two to answer all of your questions, and then get your enrollments done. I hope you also walk away understanding that Medicare can be complex enough that many people make mistakes. But, again, there are professionals out there to help you avoid the mistakes.
Here’s our page (https://mailchi.mp/gmedicareteam.com/gmedicare-monster-list-of-resources) that will provide you with many of our resources to help you as you learn. Take your time, create a notebook to write down questions, and ask friends and family for their suggestions, but review what they tell you with an agent. Medicare is like the old-fashioned game of telephone. Remember playing that? You tell the first person, they tell the second person and by the time you are seven people down, the story has completely changed from where the original story began; the facts change rather quickly. There is a bunch of hearsay in the Medicare space and things aren’t always how they appear.
So, just like you work with Gainplan for the real deal in your financial planning, find an agency that can help with the real deal of Medicare planning.