Bill Pellegrini

Why You Should NEVER Choose A Call Center for Your Medicare Needs

Choosing the right Medicare plan can be one of the biggest decisions you make for your retirement.  In order to make the right decision, we recommend enlisting the help of a local Independent Medicare agent.

Why local?  Because they know your community and live and work where you live. They know the plans that work with your providers, and what plans are best suited for you depending on where you live. They know the local carrier leadership, should you have an issue with your coverage. And most important they can get to know you with one-on-one meetings, in your home, at their office or other meeting place.

Additionally, a high percentage of Independent Medicare agents are not career insurance agents but have become experts due to a personal experience.  Chances are you are going to be dealing with someone who got into the Medicare Insurance industry to help people.

Many of our younger agents got into Medicare when they saw their grandparents or elder parents struggling.  We have many middle-aged agents who went through life-changing experiences with a sick loved one that motivated them to learn as much as they could so they could help others and prevent them from going through what they did.  And we have agents in their 60’s and 70’s who got into the industry based on their own experience and desire to help their friends and family.

Finding an Independent Medicare agent is becoming harder due to all the noise that the big Call Centers are creating.  The TV commercials using older celebrities like Joe Namath or Tom Selleck trying to sell you plans that are usually only available to a few people in a few small counties.  The non-stop phone calls and advertisements that border on harassment of seniors.

The big Call Centers are steering people away from the local Independent agents.  Why?  Because the Independent agent is informed and they’re going to make sure the customer isn’t placed in a one-size-fits-all plan.  Whereas the Call Center agents are trying to get you signed into their plan, regardless of whether or not it fits your needs or lifestyle.

Healthcare Advocate

The Independent Medicare agent is usually someone with compassion who goes the extra mile for their clients.  They know that success means repeat business and referrals.  They make the tough calls to the providers and the carriers on your behalf.  If a drug isn’t covered, if a claim isn’t paid, the Independent agent will help file grievances or appeals and help resolve the issue.  They are truly your personal healthcare advocate.

In comparison, a call center agent is usually a newly licensed agent with little to no Medicare experience, who needs a reliable income and are incented to sell different plans based on the Call Center rewards.  There are many times we encounter Medicare beneficiaries that have been enrolled by these Call Centers in a plan without their knowledge of the enrollment or plan change.   This happens because of high pressure tactics and a one-call close mentality.

These Call Center agents are employees that take direction from upper management. They may be captive agents and only able to offer one plan.  If they work for a large national Call Center company like Walmart, they may not be limited to specific plans, but could be incented through bonuses to sell various plans at different times.  This type of selling technique focuses on fitting people into plans, not finding a plan that fits the person’s needs.

The other big challenge with Call Center agents is simply the turnover.  The chances of you speaking with the same person twice is almost non-existent.  Your information will be typed up as notes so that the next Call Center agent can pick up where the old one left off.  The average tenure of a call-center agent is around 6 – 8 months, whereas the Independent Medicare agent tends to stay in the industry for years with many choosing it as a second career.  Our oldest Independent Medicare agent is 94 years old!

Why the Independent Medicare Agent vs Call Center?

  • Health plan advocate – help at the carrier level – if a drug is not covered, if a claim is not paid, who will help explain or resolve? Who would help file grievances or appeals?
  • You will know who you are talking to, personal one-on-one consulting, established relationships and rapport. You get to talk to the same person each time.  Will you get the same person twice at a Call Center?
  • An Independent Insurance agent will take the time to go over your options and give you the time you need to make your decision vs a Call Center conversation where they quickly go over your options and pressure you to sign up immediately.
  • In person meeting, visual aids (enrollment kits, brochures) and education vs. a phone call with a person you can barely hear or understand.

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