If you’ve just started researching and comparing Medicare plans offered by private companies, you may be trying to decide whether to use a health insurance broker or go directly to an insurance company. Learn more about the advantages of finding health coverage through a health insurance broker and why using one could save you money on your Medicare plan.

What is a health insurance broker?

According to Healthcare.gov, a health insurance broker is a business that helps consumers apply for and enroll in insurance coverage. While an insurance company will only sell products from its own company line, an individual health insurance broker usually offers plans from multiple insurance companies, giving customers a broader range of options.

Some health insurance brokers may sell to businesses that offer health insurance to their employees (for example, group health coverage). However, when it comes to Medicare coverage, licensed health insurance brokers like eHealth sell Medicare plans to individual consumers, not companies. A health insurance broker that is licensed to sell Medicare plans can help you find coverage through Medicare-contracted private insurance companies. Examples of Medicare plans it might offer include Medicare Advantage, Medicare Supplement, and Medicare Part D Prescription Drug Plans.

Insurance agents and brokers that sell Medicare plans must be licensed in the state(s) where they sell plans. In addition, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has strict training guidelines, and licensed health insurance brokers and agents are tested every year on their knowledge of Original Medicare, the different Medicare plan types, and eligibility criteria. Brokers and agents must also have a thorough understanding of Medicare marketing guidelines.

A licensed health insurance broker or agent is different from a Medicare health plan, such as a Medicare Advantage plan or Medicare Supplement plan. The health insurance broker doesn’t provide the coverage directly; your benefits are administered through your Medicare plan. Medicare health plans are also different from the Marketplace plans offered on government exchanges (either the federal exchange, Healthcare.gov, or a state exchange). Marketplace insurance plans offer coverage you can purchase if you don’t have employer-based coverage or Medicare.

How can a health insurance broker help me find a Medicare plan?

As mentioned, one advantage that a health insurance broker has over a private insurance company is that it usually offers a wider range of Medicare plans, making it more likely you’ll find a plan that fits your needs. A Medicare-contracted private insurance company usually only offers its own Medicare plans, so you’ll have more limited options. Instead of hopping from one company’s website to another, a health insurance broker gives you a one-stop experience, so you can easily compare plans, benefits, and prices from different companies in one place. Because its licensed insurance agents are familiar with the Medicare plans from a broad range of companies, an individual health insurance broker is equipped to help you find a plan that meets your specific needs.

Health insurance broker services are typically free, so you won’t pay a fee if you talk to a licensed insurance agent about your Medicare plan options (even if you don’t ultimately decide to enroll in a plan). In some cases, the broker may get a commission from the Medicare-approved private insurance company if you do enroll in a plan.

Health insurance brokers and agents aren’t allowed to pressure you into purchasing a Medicare plan, and they can’t recommend or endorse any one plan. Instead, you can generally count on unbiased, clear information on your Medicare options so you can make an informed decision regarding your coverage choices.

Many individual health insurance brokers, including eHealth, have websites with educational Medicare articles and online plan finder tools that make it easy for you to browse plan options from your own home. You can even enter in your current prescriptions to narrow your search to plan options that cover your medications. Many health insurance brokers also offer call center support if you have questions about your Medicare coverage or would like one-on-one assistance.

In short, here’s are some of the benefits of using health insurance broker:

  • Offers wider range of Medicare plans compared to Medicare-contracted private insurance company
  • One stop experience to compare plans, benefits and prices from different health insurance companies
  • Equipped with experienced licensed insurance agents to help you find a customized health plan to suit your needs
  • Free, you won’t be charged any fees.
  • Provide unbiased, clear information on your Medicare options

Now that you have a better understanding of what a health insurance broker is, would you like help finding a Medicare plan that could work for your situation and health needs? If you’d like to speak by phone, you can schedule an appointment below or request a personalized email from me using the link just next to it. To browse on your own, use the Compare Plans button to see coverage options in your zip code.