People who are aging into Medicare face a challenging new experience. Understanding health insurance options can be challenging for anyone, even under the best of circumstances. Add into that the complexity of government-run health coverage and it can be downright daunting. 

Sometimes a labor group or current employer will offer members who are turning 65 health plan options that combine Medicare with a robust package of other health and wellness benefits. Given the deep connection and loyalty many feel for their labor groups and employers, it’s easy to understand why those individuals would trust their group to offer the best available option. But that may not always be the case. 

Florida couple didn’t want to lose the opportunity to participate 

A Florida couple was approached by their labor group, a teacher’s union, with the option of participating in a Medicare insurance plan with additional benefits for a cost of approximately $400 per month, per participant. This retiree coverage was described as being very affordable for the benefits it included.  

The couple was told they had to sign-up for the retiree insurance coverage by a certain date or it would no longer be an option for them – so they did just that. After all, they trusted this group that had looked out for their best interests for decades was still doing so. 

After they had been participating in the coverage for some time, they heard from friends and family who were paying significantly less for what sounded like very similar coverage and benefits. The couple inquired with their labor group and were cautioned that if they ever switch out of the group’s retiree plan, they would not be able to reenroll. The fear of not being able to rejoin this plan prompted the couple to stay with their current coverage for several years.  

Couple paid nearly $40,000 when they could’ve paid $0  

Nearly four years later, the couple requested a meeting with a Licensed Insurance Agent from Advocate Health Advisors to understand what other options might be. The agent talked with the couple to understand what type of coverage they currently had, what they liked about their existing coverage and what they wished was different. 

The agent learned through listening that the couple was quite happy with their benefits and doctors, and that the only thing they wish was different was that it was more affordable. Together, the three looked at available Medicare Advantage plans that met their needs and made a surprising discovery that caused both excitement and dismay.  

The couple was excited to learn that based on their situation and desired coverage, they were eligible to sign up for a Medicare Advantage plan that gave them the exact same medical coverage and benefits as their current retiree plan for $0 per month. Understandably, the couple was disappointed to learn they’d been paying a combined total of $800 per month for their labor group’s retiree coverage when they could’ve had the same coverage for no monthly premium. 

How can others avoid paying more than they need to? 

“Understanding all the Medicare options available can be overwhelming and most people aren’t in a good position to do that on their own,” says Lupe Bruneman, Regional Manager for Advocate Health Advisors. She continued, “it’s no surprise they are willing to accept advice and recommendations from organizations that have earned their trust over years or decades – sadly, some organizations might take advantage of that trust.” 

For those who are becoming Medicare-eligible, whether you are retiring or not, getting information and advice from a source you believe you can trust is a good thing. However, be sure that if that person or organization isn’t giving you info that includes the wide variety of customizable and affordable health coverage options now available to you, you need to seek out someone who can. 

Advocate’s licensed insurance agents specialize in listening to understand individual’s needs and wants, filter and sort through the vast number of options to share the handful that could best meet those needs and wants. 

“It’s possible that the employer or labor group will offer the best and most affordable health coverage to their Medicare-eligible members. But if people want to avoid overpaying or missing out on valuable benefits, they should always seek out input from a licensed insurance agent to ensure they are making the best, most well-informed decision they can,” Bruneman says.