5 Things You Need to Know When Selecting an e-Broker
Buying Medicare insurance can be confusing. You may understand your basic options – Original Medicare (with possible add-ons) or Medicare Advantage – and know which you want.
But when you try to research what affordable plan would be best for your specific health goals, you might find it hard to compare the benefits and prices of all the policies available to you. It doesn’t matter if it’s your first Medicare policy or a renewal.
With Original Medicare, you might want help selecting the best private prescription drug or supplement (Medigap) add-on plans. And with private Medicare Advantage plans, you might want help navigating the countless options available to you. Unfortunately, while the Medicare Plan Finder at www.Medicare.gov provides a list of all available plans, it doesn’t help you choose among them.
Typically, that’s when you would call on a Medicare broker – a licensed professional who helps clients evaluate, narrow down and choose a Medicare policy. But that individual may be limited to representing only a few insurance companies.
Many things have evolved thanks to the internet, and the insurance-buying process is one of them. An online search might list websites for countless individual health insurance brokers or brokerages.
But the internet’s real strength comes when it provides access to nationwide coverage by agents who represent large numbers of insurance companies – all on a single online platform. These are referred to as e-brokers.
E-brokers provide online sales with personal help and advice from licensed agents. They could be highly advertised national household names (such as eHealth, GoHealth and SelectQuote) or smaller, regional ones. Regardless of size, they aim to make the insurance-buying process quick, convenient and hassle-free.
So how can you know if an e-broker is right for you? Here are five things to look for:
1. How many insurers do they represent? The advantage of e-brokers is that they represent a wide range of insurance companies. You want a broad choice because policy prices vary widely by insurer within your state.
Action: Look on the e-broker’s website for the represented insurers. If you have a preferred insurer, it should be listed there. Otherwise, look for recognizable company names.
2. Are there any fees involved? The cost of an e-broker helping you buy a policy is covered by the companies they represent. But you want to be sure.
Action: Confirm that the e-broker will not be adding any fees for any follow-up services. (They’re interested in keeping you as a customer in future years, so follow-up should be free.)
3. What kind of ratings do they get? Maybe a particular e-broker was referred by someone who had a good experience. But an additional “reference” can come from checking credible review sites.
Action: Look the e-broker up on review sites such as TrustQuote. Also, check with BetterBusinessBureau.com to see if they are accredited and how they rate.
4. How easy is the buying process? You should be able to move through an e-broker’s website smoothly and comfortably. Remember, your online experience is often indicative of what your experience will be as a customer.
Action: From your first click on an e-broker’s website, pay attention to how intuitive and natural the process feels. Is anything confusing? Do you feel you are making informed decisions? Is there an easy-to-use tool that compares plans side by side that have your chosen features?
5. How easily can you communicate? Health issues can happen at any time and can leave you feeling vulnerable. So how accessible is the e-broker company? And the agent? Is availability 24/7/365? Phone, text and chat?
Action: Check the website for how and when you can access the e-broker. Then confirm those details when talking to an agent – before you sign up for anything.