Whether the Annual Enrollment Period or Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period is right around the corner or you’re entering a Special Enrollment Period, there’s a large chunk of the calendar where you can shop for Medicare insurance plans. In many of these cases, millions of seniors around the United States choose to entrust their Medicare insurance plan search to an insurance agent. But why do they do that?

If you can find plans for yourself (by searching the Shop & Enroll plan finder, for example), then aren’t you be the best person to select the plan that suits your needs? Well, sometimes that may not necessarily be the case, and there’s no shame in asking for help. In fact, working with an agent may help you understand your coverage more or find you a better plan, and the agent’s assistance won’t cost you a dime!

Professional Knowledge of the Medicare Program

Perhaps the biggest reason people seek out the assistance of an insurance agent is because of their knowledge of the Medicare program. When you’re looking at your plan options, it’s easy to quickly feel overwhelmed. The search for a fitting plan can get downright confusing with all the options you have. So, that’s where an insurance agent who specializes in Medicare insurance plans can come in handy.

This also means that they’ll be in the know about any upcoming changes to requirements or rulings within the Medicare program, so you won’t be caught off guard.

Any insurance agent that works with Medicare insurance plans should know a great deal about the different enrollment windows of the Medicare program calendar and what’s permitted during each. Specifically, they should be aware of compliance and enrollment rules with the Medicare program, since they can get in some hot water if not followed. This also means that they’ll be in the know about any upcoming changes to requirements or rulings within the Medicare program, so you won’t be caught off guard. This is true for both changes from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services and individual insurance companies offering Medicare Advantage, Part D, and Supplemental plans, among others. These plans can change each year, though generally they’re small changes, but it’s still worth keeping up with them. If that sounds like a lot of work, teaming up with an insurance agent may be for you, as they’ll handle the research for you!

Understand You and Your Area

A key trait of any agent is that they know the area they work within. Since different areas offer different plans, it’s essential that any agent you work with knows what’s offered in your area, because you may not. Unless you’ve worked with a tool like Shop & Enroll, it’s not always easy to see the spread of plans near you. Additionally, insurance agents should be well-versed in the plans and products that they offer, being intimately aware with the specifics like which doctors and health care groups are in network under a specific Medicare insurance plan (or know how to find out). This can protect you from enrolling in a plan only to find out that your doctor isn’t in its network.

Working with the same agent has an added bonus — they get to know you and your needs. When looking for a Medicare insurance plan that fits you, the more knowledge they have about you, the easier it’ll be for them to find you the right plan. This includes finding plans that have features you didn’t know were available that align with your interests or health needs.

This is only one example of the benefits that agents can give you by becoming familiar with your needs. If the right agent knows what you need and what plans are in your area, your chances of finding a suitable Medicare insurance plan rise substantially.

Won’t Cost You a Thing

The best part about working with an agent is that using them is free to you. However, you can still trust agents to help you find the right plan since they get paid by the insurance company, whether you go to a new plan or stick with your old one. Effectively, an agent is paid a specific commission for enrolling you in a new Medicare Advantage plan or Part D plan. At the same time, if you stick with the same plan you had the previous year, the agent gets paid a renewal commission by the insurance company. This is to incentivize agents to find you a good plan the first time.

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Does this mean that if you work with an insurance agent, you should just stop doing all research and trust them blindly? No, we’d never suggest that. Even though you should trust your agent, it’s always a good idea to stay at least mildly informed so that you can be an active participant in finding your coverage. After all, you should have a say in the coverage you purchase. That’s why places like the Shop & Enroll blog are great resources for seniors and their families. Not only can we help you find the right agent, we’ll educate you on the Medicare program and insurance plans so you can help yourself and stay informed about your coverage.

That said, if you’re finding a Medicare insurance plan for the first time or just want help finding a suitable plan for your needs, an insurance agent can be a stellar ally in your search. Think of them as a guide toward your goal — purchasing a Medicare insurance plan that fits your individual and financial needs. You could get there by yourself, but you’ll likely get there quicker and with less stress if you get help from somebody who’s walked the path many times.

If you would like to get in touch with an insurance agent, check out Shop & Enroll’s plan finder. Not only does it show you plans in your area, as well as compare details from those plans, you can request help from a local, licensed insurance agent directly on the platform. From this request, you’ll be able to tell them when to get in touch with you and what type of plans you’re interested in so that you can have a productive, informative conversation with them. Hopefully, you’ll even be able to leave the conversation enrolled in a plan you love!