Thoughts on Using Medicare Consultant that is Paid by the Insurers

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Small Law Survivor
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Thoughts on Using Medicare Consultant that is Paid by the Insurers

Post by Small Law Survivor » Fri Sep 21, 2018 10:20 am

Yesterday, my law firm had a presentation by a Medicare consultant. This guy is a CFA and a CLTC (Certification in Long-Term Care).

He discussed Medicare generally, and answered questions. Based on what I know about Medicare, he seemed very sharp. Basically, he crunches the numbers and advises people on which plan to use, based on their medical situation.

His services are free to individuals - he is paid by the insurers. I asked him if he acted as a fiduciary, and he said that he accesses all of the insurers, and is paid the same commission by each, so he has no biases. So, he is not a fiduciary. I asked him how he is different from the people that provide this service for free, and he said they are volunteers, while he does this full-time, so he knows much more about this.

After the meeting, the people in my office we saying, "hey, if it's free, why not use him"?

I was persuaded, and I'd be inclined to use his services. Am I missing anything?

Thanks in advance.
68 yrs, semi-retired lawyer, 50/40/10 s/b/c, 70/30 dom/int'l. Plan: 4% WR until age 70, 3% after social security kicks in. Boglehead since day 1 (and M* Diehard before that) under various other names

orlandoman
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Re: Thoughts on Using Medicare Consultant that is Paid by the Insurers

Post by orlandoman » Fri Sep 21, 2018 10:45 am

He may be paid the same commission, but the additional question is how many insurance carriers he's licensed with. At medicare.gov, looking for plans in your zip code you can see how many plan providers there are and how many he is licensed with will give you an idea on how broad the range of options he has to pick from. I'm not suggesting that he needs to be licenced will all plan providers.
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GerryL
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Re: Thoughts on Using Medicare Consultant that is Paid by the Insurers

Post by GerryL » Fri Sep 21, 2018 11:00 am

Ask if his possible recommendations include Medigap F High Deductible plans. If he gives you some song and dance about people not wanting to deal with all the paper work involved with HD plans, that may be a strong indication that he does not have clients’ best interest top of mind. That is to say, even if he doesn’t cover all insurers, does he cover all the possible lettered plans?

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Re: Thoughts on Using Medicare Consultant that is Paid by the Insurers

Post by cashmoney » Fri Sep 21, 2018 11:34 am

Small Law Survivor wrote:
Fri Sep 21, 2018 10:20 am
Yesterday, my law firm had a presentation by a Medicare consultant. This guy is a CFA and a CLTC (Certification in Long-Term Care).

He discussed Medicare generally, and answered questions. Based on what I know about Medicare, he seemed very sharp. Basically, he crunches the numbers and advises people on which plan to use, based on their medical situation.

His services are free to individuals - he is paid by the insurers. I asked him if he acted as a fiduciary, and he said that he accesses all of the insurers, and is paid the same commission by each, so he has no biases. So, he is not a fiduciary. I asked him how he is different from the people that provide this service for free, and he said they are volunteers, while he does this full-time, so he knows much more about this.

After the meeting, the people in my office we saying, "hey, if it's free, why not use him"?

I was persuaded, and I'd be inclined to use his services. Am I missing anything?

Thanks in advance.


Most states have website where you can check witch insurance companies an agent is contracted with.Nobody works for free so yes he gets paid a commission just like an agent who takes your application directly from the insurance company online or over the phone but not all the carriers pay the same commission .in general agent get paid commission based on the amount of the premium.IMO its a good a idea to use a knowledgeable local agent because they will be available for support after the sale.They have an incentive to keep you happy because they also get renewals - leverage you lose when you sign up direct.

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Re: Thoughts on Using Medicare Consultant that is Paid by the Insurers

Post by drawpoker » Fri Sep 21, 2018 12:00 pm

What I am trying to understand - what was this guy doing making his pitch at your law firm?

Is there a large no. of the staff at this firm that is approaching Medicare age?

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Re: Thoughts on Using Medicare Consultant that is Paid by the Insurers

Post by cashmoney » Fri Sep 21, 2018 2:55 pm

drawpoker wrote:
Fri Sep 21, 2018 12:00 pm
What I am trying to understand - what was this guy doing making his pitch at your law firm?

Is there a large no. of the staff at this firm that is approaching Medicare age?



My guess is the owners of the firm probably want to get the Medicare eligibles off the Group plan and on to Medicare since it sometimes saves company and the employee big dollars and also may be better benefits.Smart business decision if its feasible.

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Re: Thoughts on Using Medicare Consultant that is Paid by the Insurers

Post by Small Law Survivor » Fri Sep 21, 2018 5:03 pm

drawpoker wrote:
Fri Sep 21, 2018 12:00 pm
What I am trying to understand - what was this guy doing making his pitch at your law firm?

Is there a large no. of the staff at this firm that is approaching Medicare age?
Actually, he drew a good crowd - much more than I would have anticipated.

Not only are many people in their early 60s (I'm 67, still on the firm's HSA, but will be on Medicare by age 70 at latest, which is why I was there), but younger people have parents and siblings that are approaching age 65.

I was partly responsible for encouraging this event, and it was quite successful. More people attended this than attend our annual 401K educational session. :happy
68 yrs, semi-retired lawyer, 50/40/10 s/b/c, 70/30 dom/int'l. Plan: 4% WR until age 70, 3% after social security kicks in. Boglehead since day 1 (and M* Diehard before that) under various other names

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Re: Thoughts on Using Medicare Consultant that is Paid by the Insurers

Post by Small Law Survivor » Fri Sep 21, 2018 5:12 pm

GerryL wrote:
Fri Sep 21, 2018 11:00 am
Ask if his possible recommendations include Medigap F High Deductible plans. If he gives you some song and dance about people not wanting to deal with all the paper work involved with HD plans, that may be a strong indication that he does not have clients’ best interest top of mind. That is to say, even if he doesn’t cover all insurers, does he cover all the possible lettered plans?
This is a peculiarity of Massachusetts. If I understood him correctly, Mass doesn't have "Plan F" - it has something called "Supplemental 1 Plan", which is similar. This is a topic I don't understand yet, so I need to investigate further.

If Plan F = Supp 1, then yes, he does recommend it. He mentioned that a lot of his clients opt for this.
68 yrs, semi-retired lawyer, 50/40/10 s/b/c, 70/30 dom/int'l. Plan: 4% WR until age 70, 3% after social security kicks in. Boglehead since day 1 (and M* Diehard before that) under various other names

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Re: Thoughts on Using Medicare Consultant that is Paid by the Insurers

Post by billfromct » Fri Sep 21, 2018 5:16 pm

It's my understanding that each state has a S.H.I.P. program (State Health Insurance Assistance Program) which will help residents of that state find the best Medicare plan (advantage or medigap/supplemental).

Google S.H.I.P. for you state's contact information.

I haven't used them but people who have, spoke very highly of their knowledge.

It's my understanding that there are no conflicts of interest.

bill

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Re: Thoughts on Using Medicare Consultant that is Paid by the Insurers

Post by obgraham » Fri Sep 21, 2018 5:17 pm

When we first went on Medicare we used a Medicare Broker, same idea as your consultant. It worked out well, as he went through every company and plan offered in my state/county. He had no bias toward one or the other, and once we decided he completed the applications for us. No charges, and we have never needed to go back to him again.

Sure, I did a lot of the legwork myself, but Medicare can be confusing and it was just as well to have someone else lay out all the options for me.

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Re: Thoughts on Using Medicare Consultant that is Paid by the Insurers

Post by retiredjg » Fri Sep 21, 2018 5:18 pm

I think listening and learning from such a person is fine. But it would NOT be my only source of information. Even if they represent many companies, they probably do not represent the entire universe you need to know about.

The SHIP volunteers Ive known are sharp and helpful. And some are not volunteers - my local SHIP contact is a county employee. It is part of that person's job. If you have questions, I'd get their input as well.

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Re: Thoughts on Using Medicare Consultant that is Paid by the Insurers

Post by jebmke » Fri Sep 21, 2018 5:19 pm

billfromct wrote:
Fri Sep 21, 2018 5:16 pm
It's my understanding that each state has a S.H.I.P. program (State Health Insurance Assistance Program) which will help residents of that state find the best Medicare plan (advantage or medigap/supplemental).

Google S.H.I.P. for you state's contact information.

I haven't used them but people who have, spoke very highly of their knowledge.

It's my understanding that there are no conflicts of interest.

bill
I have heard that there can be some variability in how knowledgeable the SHIP people are. The one I met with was extremely good. But I did a lot of my own homework prior to meeting and used SHIP to confirm the conclusions I reached independently.
When you discover that you are riding a dead horse, the best strategy is to dismount.

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Re: Thoughts on Using Medicare Consultant that is Paid by the Insurers

Post by Dottie57 » Fri Sep 21, 2018 5:20 pm

There is no “fiduciary” in this job or role. It is perfectly fine to have one of these people help decipher the different plans.

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Re: Thoughts on Using Medicare Consultant that is Paid by the Insurers

Post by dm200 » Fri Sep 21, 2018 5:25 pm

One (of many) questions I would ask is about whether unbiased information is provided regarding Medicare Advantage plans.

Sounds to me as though he/she may be on commission and have a financial incentive to "sell" the most expensive plan(s).

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Re: Thoughts on Using Medicare Consultant that is Paid by the Insurers

Post by retiredjg » Fri Sep 21, 2018 5:36 pm

Here's my concern.

Certain people do not need to buy a plan from the vendors that consultant is representing. For example, Federal employees (and I assume many state or municipal employees) don't need that service - they can carry their old insurance into old age as their secondary provider, sometimes at a very low cost. I think the same may be true of the insurance of some corporate employees.

Would such a consultant steer those people to where they need to go? Or even know to do that?

I'm not saying the "consultant" is automatically bad or suspicious, but there are too many questions and no answers at this point to know what to think.

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Re: Thoughts on Using Medicare Consultant that is Paid by the Insurers

Post by dm200 » Fri Sep 21, 2018 5:39 pm

retiredjg wrote:
Fri Sep 21, 2018 5:36 pm
Here's my concern.
Certain people do not need to buy a plan from the vendors that consultant is representing. For example, Federal employees (and I assume many state or municipal employees) don't need that service - they can carry their old insurance into old age as their secondary provider, sometimes at a very low cost. I think the same may be true of the insurance of some corporate employees.
Would such a consultant steer those people to where they need to go? Or even know to do that?
I'm not saying the "consultant" is automatically bad or suspicious, but there are too many questions and no answers at this point to know what to think.
Good points, in my opinion.

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Re: Thoughts on Using Medicare Consultant that is Paid by the Insurers

Post by drawpoker » Fri Sep 21, 2018 6:05 pm

Small Law Survivor wrote:
Fri Sep 21, 2018 5:12 pm
This is a peculiarity of Massachusetts. If I understood him correctly, Mass doesn't have "Plan F" - it has something called "Supplemental 1 Plan", which is similar. This is a topic I don't understand yet, so I need to investigate further.

If Plan F = Supp 1, then yes, he does recommend it. He mentioned that a lot of his clients opt for this.
Are you in Massachusetts? I didn't realize that when I asked you the earlier question.

No wonder you had to bring in a heavyweight for your infomercial. Your state is one of the 3 in the entire country that does not follow the 10 federal standardized Medicare supplement plans. Just like with your unique Romneycare which pre-dates Obamacare, the Bay State cooked up their own versions of Medigap.

And it's a doozy. 2 choices on the table. The bare-bones "Core" plan, dirt cheap and also known as sure ticket to the poorhouse, and the "Supplement1" which, yes, is almost identical to what is sold as Plan F in the rest of the country. With the high price to match.
What this means is there is no middle of the road - No Plan G. No Plan N. No Plan L. No K.

(Unless something has changed in the last few months (?) Mass. does not offer a High-Deduct Suppl1 similar to High-Deduct F sold elsewhere)

Hmmm, looks like your presenter could have been on and off the stage in about 15 minutes for this. :P

Just kidding. Am sure he did provide info on all the Medicare Advantage plans offered, didn't he? Fortunately, the state has quite a few with very high ratings, low cost. Which are life preservers for the people who can't afford Supp1, yet don't want to lie awake at night thinking about their skimpy "Core" coverage.

One of the very few good things that can be said about the Bay state arrangements here - there is no medical underwriting after the initial Open Enrollment period has passed. People can switch back and forth between the 2 plans easily, as often as they like, or bounce back and forth between a MA plan and Medigap.

That is according to a Bay State resident who posts here and on AARP message boards on Medicare topics. Maybe he will see this thread and chime in.

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Re: Thoughts on Using Medicare Consultant that is Paid by the Insurers

Post by cashmoney » Fri Sep 21, 2018 6:27 pm

dm200 wrote:
Fri Sep 21, 2018 5:25 pm
One (of many) questions I would ask is about whether unbiased information is provided regarding Medicare Advantage plans.

Sounds to me as though he/she may be on commission and have a financial incentive to "sell" the most expensive plan(s).


In many cases cases agents will get paid more for selling MA plans vs Medicare Supplements however an ethical agent will sell whats best for the consumer.Heads up - there are many agents out there who choose not to market MA and Part D because of all the additional work and continuing education thats involved but mostly because of all of the additional marketing restrictions involved with marketing MA and PDP .For example there is no cold calling allowed like there is with medicare supplement. agents who sell only medicare supplement will tend to trash talk MA plans and they wont be able to be an Agent of Record for your part D plan either- which is important if you want support after the sale. Always use an agent that can sell all types of Medicare Health Plans if possible.

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Re: Thoughts on Using Medicare Consultant that is Paid by the Insurers

Post by Small Law Survivor » Fri Sep 21, 2018 9:22 pm

drawpoker wrote:
Fri Sep 21, 2018 6:05 pm
Small Law Survivor wrote:
Fri Sep 21, 2018 5:12 pm
This is a peculiarity of Massachusetts. If I understood him correctly, Mass doesn't have "Plan F" - it has something called "Supplemental 1 Plan", which is similar. This is a topic I don't understand yet, so I need to investigate further.

If Plan F = Supp 1, then yes, he does recommend it. He mentioned that a lot of his clients opt for this.
Are you in Massachusetts? I didn't realize that when I asked you the earlier question.

No wonder you had to bring in a heavyweight for your infomercial. Your state is one of the 3 in the entire country that does not follow the 10 federal standardized Medicare supplement plans. Just like with your unique Romneycare which pre-dates Obamacare, the Bay State cooked up their own versions of Medigap.

And it's a doozy. 2 choices on the table. The bare-bones "Core" plan, dirt cheap and also known as sure ticket to the poorhouse, and the "Supplement1" which, yes, is almost identical to what is sold as Plan F in the rest of the country. With the high price to match.
What this means is there is no middle of the road - No Plan G. No Plan N. No Plan L. No K.

(Unless something has changed in the last few months (?) Mass. does not offer a High-Deduct Suppl1 similar to High-Deduct F sold elsewhere)

Hmmm, looks like your presenter could have been on and off the stage in about 15 minutes for this. :P

Just kidding. Am sure he did provide info on all the Medicare Advantage plans offered, didn't he? Fortunately, the state has quite a few with very high ratings, low cost. Which are life preservers for the people who can't afford Supp1, yet don't want to lie awake at night thinking about their skimpy "Core" coverage.

One of the very few good things that can be said about the Bay state arrangements here - there is no medical underwriting after the initial Open Enrollment period has passed. People can switch back and forth between the 2 plans easily, as often as they like, or bounce back and forth between a MA plan and Medigap.

That is according to a Bay State resident who posts here and on AARP message boards on Medicare topics. Maybe he will see this thread and chime in.
Yup, Massachusetts - you didn't know because I didn't say in my initial post. And yes, he did discuss the Advantage plans. And, he emphasized that you can switch between MA and Medigap. You state, "there is no medical underwriting after the initial Open Enrollment period has passed." I assume there is no medical underwriting during the initial Open Enrollment period as well?
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Re: Thoughts on Using Medicare Consultant that is Paid by the Insurers

Post by Big Dog » Fri Sep 21, 2018 9:33 pm

I asked him if he acted as a fiduciary, and he said that he accesses all of the insurers, and is paid the same commission by each, so he has no biases.
In a former life, I spent ~7 years doing benefits work for a Fortune 15, so I understand the ins and out of medical care well. When I contacted a local broker about my upcoming medicare he was all excited to help out until I started asking specific questions about carriers and plan letters. It rapidly became clear that this broker does not cover ALL supplement carriers (even though he said he did). He had a song and dance why they did not rep USAA, for example, even though the local county SHIP said that USAA had consistently had the lowest Supplement rates for our zip code (SoCal).

So, buyer beware.

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Re: Thoughts on Using Medicare Consultant that is Paid by the Insurers

Post by celia » Fri Sep 21, 2018 9:45 pm

Big Dog wrote:
Fri Sep 21, 2018 9:33 pm
I asked him if he acted as a fiduciary, and he said that he accesses all of the insurers, and is paid the same commission by each, so he has no biases.
In a former life, I spent ~7 years doing benefits work for a Fortune 15, so I understand the ins and out of medical care well. When I contacted a local broker about my upcoming medicare he was all excited to help out until I started asking specific questions about carriers and plan letters. It rapidly became clear that this broker does not cover ALL supplement carriers (even though he said he did). He had a song and dance why they did not rep USAA, for example, even though the local county SHIP said that USAA had consistently had the lowest Supplement rates for our zip code (SoCal).

So, buyer beware.
I'm in California too. We went to a free lunch sponsored by one of these advisors, hoping to learn something new, but didn't. Our advisor knew about all the Medicare Advantage plans for our area and probably which plans your current doctors were in, but apparently didn't know anything about the Supplemental plans. I left him a question or two about the Supplemental plans and he never bothered to contact me with the answer or at least say he wasn't familiar with the plans.

But we each also got a free pie to take home so it wasn't a complete waste of time!

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Re: Thoughts on Using Medicare Consultant that is Paid by the Insurers

Post by augustwest73 » Sat Sep 22, 2018 7:22 am

billfromct wrote:
Fri Sep 21, 2018 5:16 pm
It's my understanding that each state has a S.H.I.P. program (State Health Insurance Assistance Program) which will help residents of that state find the best Medicare plan (advantage or medigap/supplemental).

Google S.H.I.P. for you state's contact information.

I haven't used them but people who have, spoke very highly of their knowledge.

It's my understanding that there are no conflicts of interest.

bill
+1. They're unbiased and will get you in the best plan for your specific situation. You just have to be sure to give them all the details.

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Re: Thoughts on Using Medicare Consultant that is Paid by the Insurers

Post by cashmoney » Sat Sep 22, 2018 10:52 am

augustwest73 wrote:
Sat Sep 22, 2018 7:22 am
billfromct wrote:
Fri Sep 21, 2018 5:16 pm
It's my understanding that each state has a S.H.I.P. program (State Health Insurance Assistance Program) which will help residents of that state find the best Medicare plan (advantage or medigap/supplemental).

Google S.H.I.P. for you state's contact information.

I haven't used them but people who have, spoke very highly of their knowledge.

It's my understanding that there are no conflicts of interest.

bill
+1. They're unbiased and will get you in the best plan for your specific situation. You just have to be sure to give them all the details.



Maybe but maybe not.Good place to start but dont let their opinion be the final word.They can do an internet search to find lowest premium for med supp or which MA plan has all your providers in network just like you can but they wont know information that a good LOCAL independent agent who knows the lay of the land and can provide insight in to issues such as pending changes for provider networks for your chosen MA plans , which HMO plan has been a pain with referrals or accessing value added benefits such as dental ,vision,hearing aids etc.An agent talks more with consumers who are already on the plans so they will have more real world knowledge of whats working and whats not so much. For the medicare supplement side the SHIP agent wont be as versed on which company is getting ready to have a premium increase or even more important the rate increase history.For example Mutual of Omaha is famous for starting a new block of business under one of their various names such as United of Omaha , United World,Omaha Insurance with low premiums for a fresh block of business after the previous block of business premiums have drastically increased .The SHIP person will just be searching out the lowest current premium using quoting engines from the medicare website or state insurance website and these are not always up to date.

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Re: Thoughts on Using Medicare Consultant that is Paid by the Insurers

Post by Big Dog » Sat Sep 22, 2018 11:17 am

The SHIP person will just be searching out the lowest current premium using quoting engines from the medicare website or state insurance website and these are not always up to date.
As you say, cashmoney, 'maybe, maybe not'.

When I spoke with our local SHIP guy, he mentioned the last three years of premium increases for a couple of carriers that I asked about. Moever, out state website clearly states the premiums today, and their effective dates, so one can readily see of the date was Feb 1 of last year or Sept. Obviously, the former will have an increase next Feb.

As the say on the commercials, YMMV.

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Re: Thoughts on Using Medicare Consultant that is Paid by the Insurers

Post by dm200 » Sat Sep 22, 2018 3:00 pm

We never used them, but out local County government has folks who assist Seniors with Medicare education and choices. A few years ago, while on Medicare, I was chatting with someone from that office at a health fair - and telling him about our plan and how pleased we were. He told me they do their best and are impartial (no monetary gain from anything they recommend) - BUT they were glad to get in person experiences to pass on to others.

As I think, most of us know or believe, the actual patient experiences can be different than the impression you get reading the documents. Sometimes experiences are better and sometimes not. Or, perhaps, the "fit" for an individual can be very good or very bad.

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Re: Thoughts on Using Medicare Consultant that is Paid by the Insurers

Post by Small Law Survivor » Sun Sep 23, 2018 8:35 am

Thanks for all these comments and observations. Small Law Survivor
68 yrs, semi-retired lawyer, 50/40/10 s/b/c, 70/30 dom/int'l. Plan: 4% WR until age 70, 3% after social security kicks in. Boglehead since day 1 (and M* Diehard before that) under various other names

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