Happy Spring & time change! It’s hard to believe that we will be hitting the big 65 this year. During COVID, when people were talking about all of those seniors that had special shopping hours at Target, Kroger, and other big stores, I thought: “well that’s nice of them to do that for those old folks.” Only to quickly realize that I’m one of those seniors!
A quick thought here for those of you that are thinking that this blog doesn’t apply to you. Well, you may know someone it does apply to. If you would, please forward this to them. Trust me, you’re doing them a favor, as they might be searching for the information I’m writing about. Parents, friends, co-workers, neighbors – whomever! Your referral is appreciated and they will appreciate it too!
A couple of personal milestones are occurring in my life. I celebrate my 40th anniversary in the insurance and financial services industry; just completed my 275th Orange Theory class and I’m most proud of my book Castles & Moats, as it represents the culmination of those 40 years of learning, on the job training, and being adaptable to an industry that has more personalities than Cybil.
I have to laugh at the fact that there are 31 chapters in my book that cover a variety of topics, starting with basic insurance concepts and finishing with “Living a Life of Significance & Leaving a Legacy of Love.” There’s even a chapter on Social Security, which I know is often on many people’s minds. However, there’s one word that is not even mentioned once in the entire manuscript of over 60,000 words – MEDICARE! Honestly, it never even crossed my mind during the process of writing, editing, and publishing the book. But today, I realize that I have reached an entirely new phase of my personal and professional life.
In early January, all of a sudden, I started getting calls from telemarketers (which I loathe) and all kinds of direct mail on Medicare. In my mind, I’m still 64 and don’t need to be thinking about stuff like that. I don’t feel it, I don’t act it, and hopefully I don’t look like I’m Medicare eligible. However, all of this activity caused me to pause and think: maybe I should start looking into it a little more. What I ultimately learned is that Medicare is the most confusing, convoluted, frustrating, and challenging insurance product I’ve seen in my entire career. I generally like to think I’m pretty smart when it comes to all things insurance and investment, but not anymore!
When I had to go to the healthcare exchange and buy a plan last year after coming off an employer’s group plan, it was pretty simple. Pick a plan that is somewhat affordable; make sure my MD is in the network; confirm what few drugs I’m taking are acceptable, and bingo – I had my new health plan. Of course, being in the 60-64 age group made the monthly premiums somewhat pricey. Regardless, it was that easy. Based on this experience, I figured Medicare shouldn’t be that hard, should it?
Oh, my goodness! Once I started the process of trying to understand the keys to Medicare, I realized this was a completely new world. And if I’m having this much of a challenge understanding it, I wondered how others in the Class of 1976 were fairing. Until now, you might have been a DIY type of person, someone who doesn’t need a financial advisor as you’ve been reading a lot and think you’re in good shape. Or you might be someone that has a “set it and forget it” mentality. You listen to the financial entertainers and follow their thoughts and ideas. Or you might be a person that has been burned by an advisor in the past, and don’t see the need for advice and counsel.
Trust me, I get it. But that was then and this is now, and now is an entirely new world. Medicare planning is a “have to do it,” not a “want to do it.” Not only that, where do you go to get good advice? Here’s what I’ve found:
- Knowing the definitions of the different plans, products, and benefits is paramount, and mistakes can be costly (sometimes detrimental) to your wants and needs.
- Telemarketers don’t care about you; they just want to make a sale.
- Many solicitations you get are from people that only represent one company. Those are known as “captives.”
- When you Google “medicare advisors near me”, you see a lot of paid ads for different companies, not individuals.
- In talking to my friends here in Nashville that have already turned 65 and have gone through the process of purchasing their Medicare plans, it was frustrating to almost everyone. They wanted their questions answered but what they continually received was a sales pitch.
It’s very important to know is the difference between an insurance agent and an advisor. I’ve always considered myself an advisor, as my role is to represent you, the client. My job is to provide answers to your questions and offer unbiased information to questions and/or concerns you might not have known to discuss. Conversely, an agent represents a company, and might have a bias towards the features and benefits of that company.
Needless to say, this is a new subject that I’ve become very passionate about. Why? Because I’m one of you. I plan on writing future blogs on this topic as well as other topics that will become important to us. The when, where, how, and why of Social Security is another subject that I’ve written about in the past, but feel I’ve barely scratched the surface. If you’re born in 1958, like I am, then you hopefully have put “age 66 & 8 months” in your brain, because that’s when we can start collecting our Full Retirement Age (FRA) benefits.
So, class of 1976, we’re in this together. Now is the time to get our acts together, and I hope to help make that “have to” emotion one of “I’m in good stead on my Medicare plan.” That’s my story, and I’m sticking to it. I hope to hear from you as questions and thoughts arise. Now it’s time to get my golf clubs out for the spring season!
**Examples are intended for illustrative purposes only and may be not indicative of your situation. Individual results may vary.