Medicare Eligible and Confused by the Phone Calls and Mail?
By Cindy Thompson: Simon Insurance, Eaton, Ohio
As a sales agent, who helps and advises on Medicare coverage, I often run into clients who are overwhelmed by the amount of mail pouring into their mailboxes and the unsolicited phone calls disturbing them at various times of the day. The sudden surge in one’s popularity, based on one’s Medicare eligibility and the insurer’s desire to include you in their risk pool, make finding the right Medicare plan tricky.
When deciding about your Medicare coverage, I suggest asking yourself, “how do I buy anything of real value?” Do you enjoy the art and game of the pressure sales person who talks it up and gets you to do the head nod on “hot” points, all directing you to close the deal? Or, do you want an agent that can help you visualize being in the plan and walk you through the best, and worse case scenarios? An agent who may use the government website, https://www.medicare.gov/ for assistance and guidance to assure you of the details of your expenditures? An agent who is appointed with more than one company, that has many options, as one size does not fit all when it comes to Medicare choices? Also, do you value qualities such as integrity and honesty? (For information on how to protect yourself from predatory sales practices visit the Ohio Department of Insurance webpage: https://www.insurance.ohio.gov/Newsroom/Tips/Pages/MedicareSalesPractices.aspx. ).
Medicare permits mailing to individuals who are, or soon will be, eligible for Medicare. However, Medicare does not permit cold-calling without permission to contact. Some sales agents get permission to contact when a prospect enters personal contact info on a quoting website. Some agents get permission to contact from business reply cards. Oftentimes, prospects do not realize that permission to contact had been granted and discover their phones ringing because a form was completed and submitted. Then, there are calls without permission granted. Those calls can be reported to Medicare and/or a plan sponsor if the name and number of that person making the call had been obtained. Medicare is the compliance and oversight entity regarding the enforcement of agent conduct. https://www.medicare.gov/forms-help-and-resources/report-fraud-and-abuse/health-plans-rules/health-plan-rules.html
What about doing business over the phone? Of course, there are obstacles when buying things over the phone. I have a colleague that once said, “buying insurance over the phone is like trying to get a haircut over the phone”. There are many visual illustrations, copay schedules, and charts that can go unseen when discussing insurance products over the phone. These can be of importance in making an informed decision about health care coverage. As a local insurance agent, I always recommend doing a face-to-face meeting, #1- to know who you are buying from so you know who to get a hold of if there are issues and questions that come up, #2- to support your local community and economy. An agent who lives and works in the community will know about how the doctors, dentists, pharmacies, and hospitals in your area work with different health plans.
With the many choices in Medicare coverage, getting back to the basics of buying, and what you value in making a purchase, should help to guide you in where you want to do business for your heath care. Finding someone you can trust, and who stays on top of the changes can be a great ally for your health care pocket book.
Cindy Thompson resides in Eaton, Ohio and works for Simon Insurance. She has been selling Medicare products for over 12 years and represents several national carriers.