A Good Listener: When you’re shopping around for health insurance, you want your agent to be dialed in to what you’re saying about your past medical history. We’ve all heard that the number one cause of bankruptcy in the US is medical expenses. So, your agent needs to respect the 75% listening, 25% talking rule when communicating with you. It’s paramount that your agent asks the right questions to cover all potential exposure points. You’ll know that you have an insurance agent that values you when they’re asking thoughtful questions and focused on your responses. Pinpointing a plan across many carriers takes great listening skills; your agent has a responsibility to ensure that the coverage you have will mitigate the most out-of-pocket exposure for your family if something does happen to you.
Clarity and Knowledge: An insurance agent that values you will master their product knowledge because they’re aware of the fiduciary responsibility to their clients. The purpose of having an agent is for them to explain your policy options clearly and concisely. As a potential client, make sure you’re asking questions if anything is confusing. An agent that values you will be more than happy to give you the answers you seek. If they are not, they most likely are more worried about the sale and not your needs. Whatever the budget for health insurance, a knowledgeable agent should find some form of coverage for you. They’re genuine in their approach when explaining your policy options. If you’re speaking with an agent who won’t take the time to help you personally or at least refer you to someone who can, they’re limited in their knowledge and most likely commission-minded. Furthermore, you may want to inquire into finding an independent broker. These agents are appointed with dozens of insurance carriers and can build policy options based on your needs and not one company’s products. In this manner, you are exposed to greater clarity through options and choice. An agent who provides value in these ways is friendly, non-combative, and committed to helping you.
Staying Connected: If your agent has met the above two criteria, it’s most likely a good idea to keep them around. They are now aware of your medical history, and you have both established mutual trust and understanding. An agent that values this long-term relationship will reach out to you periodically throughout the year. Their purpose should be to review the policy and make adjustments if necessary. Your agent should want to know whether or not the policy has provided value. This is also a great time for you to ask any questions. Additionally, if you currently have an agent who issued you a policy but hasn’t contacted you since, you may want to reach out or consider getting a new agent. Your agent should demonstrate these qualities so that you know your family’s health is covered to the fullest extent.
Research shows that seniors are common targets of scammers. One of the most common ways that criminals try to get information is through Medicare scam calls. In fact, your Medicare number is often more valuable for criminals than your social security number or credit card numbers/banking information.The caregivers at Gentle Shepherd Home Care in Colorado Springs can help you identify these scams. We offer a variety of in-home senior care services from companionship to medical care.In this article, well explain what you need to know about common Medicare scams.Does Medicare Ever Call Recipients?There are only two reasons that Medicare will ever call you, according to the Medicare website:Health/drug plan provider may call if you are already a member or the agent who helped you join may contact youCustomer service representative may contact you if youve left a message or received a letter stating that you will receive a phone callTop 7 Medicare ScamsFraudsters are getting smart with their scams. However, if someone calls you claiming to be from Medicare with the following pitches, its a scam.Your old Medicare card is invalid- you will be getting a new cardThis is one of the most common Medicare scams. The fraudster will inform you that in order to issue a new card, they will need your social security number and/or your Medicare card number.Truth: Medicare will not call you if there is an issue with your card. They will send a letter to arrange a phone interview.Your Medicare plan is about to be canceledThe caller will claim that in order to prevent your Medicare from being canceled, you will need to verify your current Medicare number, full name, address, banking information, birthdate, and social security number. This is also a common Social Security scam.Truth: Medicare representatives have your Medicare number on file- they will never ask for it. Additionally, Medicare representatives never ask for details such as your social security number to verity your identity.You are eligible for early access to vaccinationsThe COVID-19 pandemic spawned many pandemic-related scams such as being sent at-home testing kits or special access to vaccinations. These offers require that you provide information such as your Medicare number, social security number, and other personal details. Most of these start out as text messages or robocalls. The caller will offer you special access if you pay out of pocket.Truth: Medicare will never ask for you to pay out of pocket to get special treatment.You must confirm your appointment for genetic testingIn some cases, scammers will call offering free genetic testing to screen for a variety of health conditions. When you agree, they will steal your information and will bill Medicare for the test. In some cases, you may be sent an at-home test to complete along with a request for your information.Truth: Medicare will not call or send an at-home kit to offer you testing that you have not requested.You are eligible for free medical suppliesIf a scammer is aware of a specific health condition, such as diabetes, they may offer you free medical supplies or medications. They use this offer to get your Medicare number and other personal information as well as your credit card number so that you can pay for shipping. Your information will be used to over-bill Medicare.Truth: Medicare is not likely to call you to offer free medical supplies/medications. They will never ask for you to pay for shipping or provide financial information. Never pay for anything without seeing an invoice that can be confirmed with Medicare.You overpaid and are due a refundOne of the most common scams fraudsters use is to contact you via a phone call or text offering a refund on overpayment.Truth: Medicare will not call you to verify your personal financial information before issuing a refund. If you are due for a refund, a paper check will be sent out or it will be sent to the bank account on file.Youve been pre-approved for a cheaper/better planSome scammers will try to convince you that you are eligible for a cheaper/better plan than you are currently on. These are most common during open enrollment.Truth: Medicare will not call you without sending a letter first. You should never follow up on any unsolicited calls, visits from people claiming to be Medicare reps, or brochures.What to Do if You Are ContactedScammers can be persuasive, aggressive, and even threatening. However, its important to stay calm- they wont be able to do anything if you dont give them your information.Also, keep in mind that Medicare will not cold-call you. They will contact you via postal mail first to set up a phone interview.If you or a loved one is contacted by a fraudster:Never give out personal informationHang upReport the scam to MedicareWarn loved onesIf you or a loved one is in need of in-home elderly care, contact Gentle Shepherd Home Care in Colorado Springs. We offer a variety of services from simple companionship to medical care.
Reviewing your Medicare plan doesnt have to be complicated. These questions can help you assess your plan and make any changes you need.1. Have your health care needs changed in the past year? For example, did you sustain an injury that requires ongoing care, or were you diagnosed with a chronic illness?2. Are your doctors still considered in-network? If you have a Medicare Advantage plan that only covers a specific list of providers, facilities, and/or pharmacies, you'll want to have the most up-to-date network information. Covered providers can change from year to year.3. Will your prescriptions be covered under your current drug plan? Make a list of the medications you take and check them against the formulary for your Part D or Medicare Advantage plan with prescription coverage.4. Do you need additional benefits such as transportation, dental, hearing, or vision? These services are usually not covered under Original Medicare. If you think you'll need these additional coverages, you may want to look into a Medicare Advantage plan that offers them.5. Will you be traveling long term next year? If you have Original Medicare, you're covered nationwide to see any provider that accepts Medicare. If you have a Medicare Advantage plan, some plans restrict your coverage to a certain geographic area.6. Have your financial needs changed? Consider how your plan fits into your current budget, and whether you need something more affordable. In addition to the monthly premium, you'll want to consider deductibles, coinsurance, and co-payments. Theres no one-size-fits-all Medicare plan and no carrier that is right for everyone. Everyones needs and situations are unique. Thats why its essential to do your homework before enrolling in a Medicare plan even if its one recommended by your family or friends. A local, experienced agent can help you compare the plans in your area to find the one that suits you. For more information visit: aismedicareandmore.com Editors Note: This article was submitted by Jolynn Allen, of AIS Medicare & More. She may be reached at 719-404-3202, or by email at email@example.com
Seniors enrolling in Medicare often are surprised to discover that most Medicare health and prescription drug plans are measured by a fivestar rating system. Much like a reviewer guide to restaurants or hotels, Medicare plans are ranked from a low of one star to a high of five stars.The overall ratings provide an easy and intuitive way to help people evaluate and compare both the quality of the product being offered and the overall experience of real consumers.For 2024 plans, Blue Cross Medicare Advantage and Platinum BlueSM Cost plan members will be enrolled in a 4.5 out of 5-Star Rated plan. Additionally, Blue Cross Medicare Advantage plans are top-rated by its members for customer service receiving 5 out of 5-Stars[i].Star Rating categoriesThese ratings are based on the plans performance in five categories:Keeping people healthy: screening tests and vaccines. Includes whether members received appropriate preventative screening tests, vaccines, and other check-ups to help them stay healthyManaging chronic (long-term) conditions: Includes how often members with certain conditions got recommended tests and treatments to help manage their conditionMember experience: Includes actual members ratings of the planMember complaints and changes in the health plans performance: Includes how often Medicare found problems with the plan and how often members had problems with the plan Health plan customer service: Includes how well the plan handles member appealsDeveloped by Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), the Star Rating system is based on member surveys as well as information provided by doctors, health care providers and Medicare's regular monitoring activities. The standards are evaluated on an annual basis and are built to drive continuous improvement in the health care system and better health outcomes for Medicare enrollees.Shopping for a Medicare PlanEvaluating a Medicare plan should take other factors into account as well, such as covered benefits and which doctors, clinics and hospitals are included in the network. Also, the Medicare Annual Enrollment Period (AEP) from October 15 to December 7 is a great time to review your plan selection each year and make sure it's still the best fit for your needs. Related reading: From networks to enrollment periods, get smart on Medicare Advantage plans.Getting help sorting through your options is easy (and free!) with a licensed advisor. Blue Cross Advisors are available in your area for face-to-face meetings, telephone consultations or virtual visits. Appointment scheduling is available online at bluecrossmn.com/advisors.Backed by a service team of nearly 500 Minnesota-based Member Experience Advocates, Blue Cross retains 95% of its Medicare enrollees from one plan year to the next. According to a Blue Cross survey earlier this year, nearly all (98%) of Medicare-enrolled Minnesota seniors consider customer service to be an important factor within their plan. More information about Blue Cross Medicare plans can be found at BlueCrossMN.com/medicare.Editor's note: Every year, Medicare evaluates plans based on a 5-star rating system. Blue Cross offers PPO, HMO-POS, Cost and PDP plans with Medicare contracts. Enrollment in these Blue Cross plans depends on contract renewal.2024 Star Ratings are based on services and care members received in 2022 and are posted at Medicare.gov. Based on 2023 CAHPS results. Star rating information is on medicare.gov/plan-compare.