Today I’m taking a stand on something that absolutely sickens me: salespeople that take advantage of senior citizens. I truly think these people are lower than pond scum. In fact, they may be closer to the stuff that eats pond scum.
My agency, Alan Galvez Insurance, has long focused on working with senior citizens as they approach Medicare age, mainly by offering Medicare Supplements. We’re known for our informative, consultative approach. We explain what plans are available and help people pick one that best suits them. We’re also well versed in explaining how all the pieces of Medicare fit together. So all things considered, we’re a pretty good resource.
But, let me tell you- we don’t get to talk to everyone. And when those other people call or drop by because they’ve got problems or questions, we hear some heart-wrenching stories. When “Mr. I’m an out of town salesman who doesn’t give a crap about you” swoops in and signs up a Medicare-eligible person for their “super-duper” plan, we get to pick up the pieces. We take the phone calls from those Medicare-eligible folks who wonder why their plan doesn’t work around here or why Mr. Salesman isn’t returning their calls. And the worst part is when we can’t help- especially when guaranteed enrollment periods have passed and/or they’re stuck paying for something they can’t use.
So, my goal here is give people the facts. Slick salespeople may try to convince you these things don’t matter, but they’re WRONG. These are written down, hardcore facts. Insurance “gospel” if you will. So take this to heart. And share with those you love so they can avoid heartache.
Here’s the top 4 “lies” I see:
My Super Duper Medicare Supplement plan C is better than the other company’s Plan C
Wrong. Since the early 1990’s, all Medicare Supplement plans are standardized. There are 10 options, and they begin with a letter- A, B, C, D, F, G, K, L, M, and N. Plan F also comes in a high deductible version.
By law, plan benefits must remain the same from company to company. So Plan F with one company is the EXACT same plan with another company.
What can differ? Administrative details such as premiums, method of premium payment, claims submission and treatment of pre-existing conditions.
But NOT the plan benefits. So, if a salesperson tells you this, tell ’em to go fly a kite.
The Medicare Supplement open enrollment period is no big deal- if you miss it, don’t worry about it.
Seriously? Yes, it is a big deal and here’s why: you are guaranteed a Medicare Supplement within 6 months of enrolling in Medicare Part B. What if you have a major medical condition like cancer, stroke or heart attack? Doesn’t matter- a company can’t turn you down if you’re applying in that six month time period.
But, what if you enroll after your guaranteed enrollment period? Then a company can say “NO” to your application, meaning no coverage.
I would consider that a big deal, wouldn’t you? And if the salesman says it isn’t, show ’em the door.
Medicare Advantage plans are the best option versus Traditional Medicare + a Medicare Supplement
It depends. Medicare Advantage plans were introduced many years ago and actually take the place of original Medicare. They are similar to health insurance under age 65 in that you may have deductibles, co-pays, drug coverage, etc. Premiums for Advantage plans are typically less because the plan requires you to see medical providers within a certain provider network to get coverage.
In my area, Advantage plans don’t seem to be a good option. Why? Because the provider network is practically non-existent. I’ve checked many of the larger providers networks (think United Healthcare, Anthem, Aetna and Medical Mutual), and some don’t even have our local hospital in the network. Why would I sell a product to someone that I know won’t do them any good?
But agents selling Advantage plans can make big bucks off each sale as opposed to making a small percentage off a Medicare Supplement. And if that agent never has to see the person again, where’s the incentive to do what’s right?
I can’t stress this enough– if a salesperson suggests an Advantage plan- check the provider network first. If your local hospital and doctor aren’t in the network, then it’s probably not a good fit for you. And if a salesman says otherwise, walk ’em to the door and say “Thanks, but no thanks.”
You may counter with, “But the premium is $0! How can I not do this?” My response is, “What if you have to pay for your doctor visit or hospital stay completely out of your own pocket? Do you think that $0 premium was actually a bargain?”
Advantage plans seems to do better in more metropolitan areas. For the rural regions like where I’m at, it still seems that Original Medicare + the Supplement is the best way to go.
If you’re 65 and up and and involuntarily lose your group health coverage, or retiree health coverage, you’ve got plenty of time to choose something else and be guaranteed to get it
Nope, Nein (German) and Nyet (Russian). No matter which term you use it’s the same answer.
This type of situation is extremely time-sensitive. In fact you have only 63 days after coverage ends to select a Medicare Supplement plan and get it on a guaranteed basis. And as a general rule, there are FOUR plans that are available on a guaranteed basis- A, B, C and F. Guaranteed issue means the same thing as above- no health questions, no underwriting. You fill out the application and pay the premium and you got it.
A salesperson that says you’ve got oodles of time? Let me talk to ’em 😉
We’re pretty passionate about protecting and helping seniors in our community. If you want to talk about your situation, or know someone who could benefit from talking to us, please contact us (Ohio only). And please share with others who would benefit from the information here. I’m totally OVER seeing senior citizens preyed upon.