The Medicare games are about to begin. I am talking about the Medicare Annual Enrollment Period (AEP) and the unethical and sometimes illegal sales activities or “games” played by some insurance agents. Please don’t get me wrong, there are many agents and advisors who are doing things right, but there are also those who push the legal and ethical envelope who are more interested in making the sale rather than doing what is right for you.
The Medicare AEP runs through Dec. 7 and is the one time a year when you can make changes to your Part D prescription drug plans or Medicare Advantage plans. So let’s get you suited up so that you can protect yourself during the games.
• Helmet — Know your coverage
It is extremely important to understand your current coverage, because if you don’t, you won’t be able to protect your head (mind) from an unethical agent who makes claims/statements that just aren’t true. The more you know about your coverage, the better protected you will be against agents who are making false statements.
• Shoulder Pads — Know what agents can and cannot legally do
Knowing what agents are/are not allowed to do will allow you to block unwanted/illegal activities during the game and throw the penalty flag. For example, if you understand that agents are not allowed to call you without your permission, you will be able to end an unwanted call very quickly. Other prohibited activities include high-pressure sales tactics, sending uninvited emails, soliciting door-to-door, claiming they work for Medicare, and many, many more.
• Cleats — Work with a trusted adviser
Run as fast as you can to a trusted advisor. But how can you know ahead of time whether you can trust a particular agent/advisor. Unfortunately you can’t, at least not until you have had some experience with them. So here are a few questions to ask: How long have they been in the business? Are they a jack of all trades or do they specialize? Do they have a local office? Do they have a website? Do they work with someone you know? Do they have any education/certifications? Do they have a staff that can answer questions when the advisor is not available? Never buy or make changes to your coverage if you are feeling pressured to do so. If an agent won’t give you time to think things over, use those cleats and run for the hills.
So, now that you are all suited up, go out there and win the game.
Dan Hoelscher is the founder of Seniormark LLC, a company that has specialized in helping retirees transition from work to retirement for the past 19 years. Seniormark has offices in Sidney and Troy. You can reach Dan by email at [email protected] or you can visit their website at www.seniormark.com.