It is an honor indeed, to have United Healthcare recognize me as a level 2, “Authorized to Offer” agent. Every “A2O” agent is required to meet rigorous criteria to become “Authorized to Offer” status. Even though I pride myself on being a professional to all my clients and the insurance companies that I represent, it is this particular company who recognizes that professionalism. In order to qualify for this I had to meet certain standards and ethics. Some of these include:
- Demonstrated competency and experience requirements
- Commitment to community service
- Required agent training on product, ethics and needs analysis, as well as regulatory training requirements
- State licensure
- Annual disciplinary history and background check review, including third-party credit and criminal checks
- Requalify every year
- Sign a code of Ethics
- Protect consumers through required Errors and Omissions insurance
- Not engage in door-to-door marketing or cold calling
- Meet with you in the place of your choice
- Place you with the best product for you. I am commission “neutral” meaning I don’t push you to a product that pays me the most.
- Give you a clear explanation of who you are doing business with
- Clarify all consumer disclosures and provide you with the limitations and exclusions of product
It is important to you because an “Authorized to Offer” agent:
- Can provide you with personalized service and can assist in finding solutions to fit your needs.
- Can address the complexity of many of the insurance and financial products you may need in order to have protection and a sense of security.
- Can meet with you in-person to address your specific questions and concerns and can lead to a more thorough understanding of how the solution addresses your unique needs.
You can expect me to be a trusted professional and practice four core principles:
- Approach every interaction with integrity
- Put client needs first
- Be an expert and stay informed
- Display a commitment to the community.
For further information, please refer to the official Introducing “Authorized to Offer” Local Agents brochure (You will need Adobe Reader installed on your computer to view this document. Adobe Reader is available for free here.)
A Plan F is a Plan F is a Plan F. I say this often to my potential clients. It is true, but not the whole truth. Because the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid (CMS) have standardized all Medicare Supplement Plans (also known as Medigap Plans), it is true that the level of benefits are the same. All Plan F plans must cover Medicare deductibles and co-insurance, no matter which company you purchase from.
However, a Plan F from one company to another company can and does vary significantly. I am an independent insurance agent who specializes in this. The following are ways that they can vary and you need to consider when choosing a Medicare Supplement Plan:
- Rates can vary significantly. In Virginia, as of this writing,( September 17, 2012) a Plan F rate for a 65 year old female can range from a low of $92.13 per month to over $300 per month. (We are talking identical coverage!) These rates vary due to many factors such as the area in which you live. For example, a person who lives in one zip code can pay $20/per month less than their neighbor who lives down the road but in a slightly different zip code. A smoker may pay more with some companies. Males may have a higher rate with some companies. Some plans have rates which are guaranteed to increase every year as you get older. Some plans level off their rates after age 75. (Unfortunately, all of them can – and do- raise their rates on an across the board basis.)
- There are extra “Perks” and extra Costs. For example, you must be a member of AARP to buy their Plan F from United Health Care. Currently, this is an additional cost of $16 per year. But on the Perk side, the AARP/UHC plan includes a Silver Sneakers benefit. That alone, could save you over $50 per month if you are already paying for a fitness center membership. Mutual of Omaha has a 7% couples’ discount. And companies are adding more perks (benefits that are not required by law) every day trying to get your business.
- Ratings and Customer Service. Have you ever had a question and had to talk to someone in India, or be put on hold for what seems like a lifetime? This is a consideration when purchasing a plan you will probably keep for many years. Though in my experience, this is usually not a big consideration because these plans (as long as they are from a reputable company) work like a dream. It is rare to be dissatisfied with a Plan F as long as you can afford to pay the premiums.
So the bottom line is – Shop plans with a knowledgeable agent who can enroll you into best plan for you.