Medicare Agents Near Me (2019 update)

Making the right choices when it comes to deciding on Medicare coverage can have a big impact on you and your family’s lives.  But with so much information out there, things can be confusing, especially if you are new to Medicare.  We believe your smartest move may be to seek help from a local professional who can help you make the best decision for your individual situation.

3 Benefits of Using a Local Medicare Agent to Pick Your Plan

There are three critical reasons why you should consider enlisting a local agent’s help.

  1. Expertise. If you are new to Medicare, the choices you face may feel a bit overwhelming and you’re sure to have questions about what’s best for you.  People who have been covered by an employer’s group insurance plan need to understand that Medicare is different in terms of benefits, costs and the providers you can access, so overall general knowledge about Medicare is critical which is perhaps the biggest benefit an agent can offer. In addition, because providers vary by market, having someone who works in your local service area is especially important when comparing the pros and cons of each plan.  Agents who sell Medicare plans are also required to go through many hours of additional training and get special certification to sell Medicare products, providing you a greater sense of reassurance when you engage them to assist you.
  2. Full range of options. Independent agents are often your best bet when shopping for Medicare, primarily because they represent a wide range of companies. Agents who represent only a few companies—we call them captive agents—may have limited options. An independent agent can give you a more complete rundown of your options than can a captive agent.
  3. Save time and Independent agents work with Medicare plans every day and are aware of the latest changes as well as the intimate details of the benefits and limitations of each plan.  If you try to research this information on your own, you will probably arrive at the same place, but with a lot more effort.  If you are new to Medicare, this task can be especially time consuming without the help of an agent. With an agent, you’ll also be in line to receive updates and information that could help you with future decisions regarding your Medicare choices.

How to Find Medicare Agents Near Me

There is a wealth of information available regarding Medicare plans.  Here are some things to do and to look for as you begin your search for a Medicare agent near you.

  • Ask for a referral. If you have car insurance, homeowners’ insurance or life insurance, contact your agent and ask for a referral to a Medicare expert.  You will get the “inside scoop” from your existing agent about who would work best for your situation with the added bonus of insights your existing agent already knows about you first-hand.
  • Go online. It seems obvious, but if you know what to look for, this can do a lot of the heavy lifting for your initial efforts.  You should plan on doing additional vetting after you’ve uncovered several agents who appear to meet your needs.
  • Independent vs Captive. Make sure you search for “Independent Medicare agents near me” instead of limiting your search to captive agents.  Unlike captive agents, independent agents are not tied to one or two insurance companies and will be able to offer the best, broadest and most unbiased information and advice based on your unique situation.
  • Look for AHIP certification. In addition to being licensed to sell insurance in a specific state, to sell Medicare plans an agent must also pass an annual American Health Insurance Plans (AHIP) certification exam.  AHIP certification is administered by the trade association that specifically represents the health insurance industry.  Agents are required to demonstrate specialized Medicare knowledge to pass the exam.
  • Tap into SHIP. The State Health Insurance Assistance Programs is a national network that provides trustworthy, unbiased and one-on-one counseling and assistance for individuals and families who are seeking help with Medicare insurance plans.

What Kind of Medicare Agent Do You Need?

Once you have made the decision to retain the services of a Medicare agent, following are several things to consider in your search:

  • Active. You want a Medicare agent who is actively selling Medicare and maintains regular communications and updates with legislative changes, insurance company news, market-specific news and other changes.
  • Specialization. The more time an agent devotes to Medicare, the better it is for you.  A jack-of-all-trades approach is a pale comparison to someone who makes Medicare plans the focus of their efforts.
  • Good reviews. Once you’ve narrowed your search, conduct an online search to see if there are any complaints that have been filed against an agent.  Similarly, also look for positive reviews as well, keeping in mind that this should just be one of many things you consider.
  • Properly licensed. Along with being licensed to sell insurance in your state, they should also be AHIP certified as well.  This is the trade organization that ensures Medicare agents have required training and knowledge to best represent your interests.
  • Responsive. Expect your agent to be responsive. If you’re having a hard time getting answers or a reply from an agent, move on to someone else.  There’s too much competition out there to have anything less than a top-notch experience.
  • Service after the sale. Ask about whether there will be an ongoing dialog with you above and beyond just an annual review of your policy.  Good agents will build a relationship with you and stay in touch proactively to make sure you are always in good standing.

How Do Medicare Agents or Medicare Insurance Brokers Work?

A Medicare insurance broker or agent helps consumers apply for and enroll in Medicare insurance coverage. Independent agents will offer options from many different companies.  An insurance broker that is licensed to sell Medicare plans can help you find coverage through Medicare-contracted private insurance companies.  It’s important to note that a broker or agent doesn’t provide direct coverage—benefits are still administered through the actual Medicare plan that you choose.

One of the key benefits of working with an independent agent or broker is they are not tied to a single plan.  This means the broker has all the information on several plans in a single one-stop place for you.

Do I Need a Medicare Agent to Sign Up for Medicare Advantage?

No. You do not need to use a Medicare agent to sign up for a Medicare Advantage plan, but unless you do a lot of homework and become extremely familiar with all the possible choices that are in the marketplace, you could be making a regrettable mistake.

An agent who works in the industry every day has added insights and first-hand knowledge that no amount of online digging will uncover.  Doing the research on your own might produce a good result, but you are also gambling with your health care coverage this way and it is just as likely that you could end up with the wrong coverage, lesser coverage or a plan that forces you to pay more than you would have done so otherwise.

How Do You Pick an Unbiased Medicare Agent Near You?

Just as it is with any major decision, the more work you do up front, the more likely you are to end up with a good result in the end.  Finding an unbiased Medicare agent near you will require effort on your part, but the results should be worth it.

To begin, cast your net wide.  Start by searching the Internet using keywords such as “Medicare agent” or “Medicare consultant” plus the city or region where you live.  This should give you a good starting list.

You might also try contacting a state health insurance assistance program.  This can be done through the State Health Insurance Assistance Programs National Network that provides local Medicare help with trusted, unbiased, one-on-one counseling and assistance.

Your next step will be to pare the list down.  One of the best ways to do this is to find an agent who specializes in Medicare plans.  But how can you tell which ones specialize? Most insurance agents offer a variety of insurance coverage ranging from home, auto and renters, to life and car insurance and so on.  In other words, they may know a fair amount about Medicare plans, but their time and knowledge are split in many different directions.

A good tip-off that you’re going to work with a Medicare specialist is to look for someone who not only markets themselves this way, but who is also properly licensed to sell Medicare plans and has passed their annual AHIP (American Health Insurance Plans) exam.  This exam is administered by the trade association that specifically represents the health insurance industry.

Narrow your search further by looking for an independent agent instead of a captive agent.  An independent agent represents many plans, while a captive agent will typically represent only a single carrier, possibly two at most.  Having a large portfolio of Medicare plans allows a Medicare adviser to fit the plan to your unique needs.

Also look for an agent who charges a flat fee or an hourly rate.  An agent who is paid by commission may have an unintentional conflict of interest even though they may have your best interests in mind.  There are also agents out there who will charge no fee at all.

Pick the top two or three agents based on these criteria, and you should have a good experience in making a final decision regarding your choice of a Medicare plan.

Examples of Medicare Agents and Plans by State

We picked four of the larger states in the United States and have given you some specific contact information on how to find Medicare agents for these areas.

We’ve also listed all of the Medicare plan providers for each of the four states so that if you are a resident, you can begin researching individual companies if that is your preference.

Medicare Agents in California

The American Association for Medicare Supplement Insurance offers a free locator tool by zip code for agents in all 50 states.  This is a free service for consumers.   To access the locator tool, go here.

The California Department of Insurance also maintains a consumer page to assist residents in finding an appropriate broker.  It lists several trade associations and if you are not fluent in English, there is also an Agent Language Locator so that you can find a broker that speaks your desired language.  To access the page, http://www.insurance.ca.gov/01-consumers/105-type/findagtbrk.cfm

The Health Insurance Counseling & Advocacy Program (HICAP) is run through the California Department on Aging and provides free and objective information and counseling about Medicare. Volunteer counselors can help you understand your specific rights and health care options. HICAP also offers free educational presentations to groups of Medicare beneficiaries, their families and/or providers on a variety of Medicare and other health insurance related topics.

To access a complete list of HICAP offices, go here, or call the California Department on Aging at 1-800-4334-0222.

California State Medicare Plans

Medicare Agents in Florida

The American Association for Medicare Supplement Insurance offers a free locator tool by zip code for agents in all 50 states.  This is a free service for consumers.   To access the locator tool, go here.

The Florida Office of Insurance Regulation provides a wide variety of consumer resources to assist people with several types of insurance, including Medicare.  To access this information, go here.

SHINE (Serving Health Insurance Needs of Elders) is a free program offered by the Florida Department of Elder Affairs and local Area Agency on Aging programs. Specially trained volunteers can assist Floridians with Medicare, Medicaid, and health insurance questions by providing one-on-one counseling and information. SHINE services are free, unbiased, and confidential.  The SHINE program supports the Florida Department of Elder Affairs’ mission by providing free and unbiased health insurance counseling through a dedicated network of volunteers, empowering Florida seniors to make informed health care choices.

Florida State Medicare Plans

Medicare Agents in New York

The American Association for Medicare Supplement Insurance offers a free locator tool by zip code for agents in all 50 states.  This is a free service for consumers.   To access the locator tool, go here.

The New York Department of Financial Services oversees a comprehensive website on all types of insurance issues affecting New York residents.  To access the NYS Provider and Health Plan Look-Up, go here.

The New York State Office for the Aging sponsors The Health Insurance Information, Counseling & Advocacy Program (HIICAP). HIICAP provides free and objective information, counseling, assistance and advocacy on Medicare, private health insurance, and related health coverage plans. HIICAP helps people with Medicare, their representatives, or persons soon to be eligible for Medicare.

To learn more about NYSOFA’s HIICAP program and how to access information, you can visit the agency’s programs and services page.

To contact a HIICAP counselor, call 1-800-701-0501 or visit the HIICAP local Offices page.

New York State Medicare Plans

Medicare Agents in Texas

The American Association for Medicare Supplement Insurance offers a free locator tool by zip code for agents in all 50 states.  This is a free service for consumers.   To access the locator tool, go here.

The Texas Department of Insurance operates the Texas Health Options website that allows consumers to compare health plans, benefits, networks and more.  To access the site, go here.

Texas Health and Human Services oversees the Texas Department of Aging and Disability Services.  If you are eligible for Medicare, the Texas’ Health Information, Counseling and Advocacy Program can help you enroll, find information and provide counseling about your options. This partnership between the Texas Health and Human Services system, Texas Legal Services Center and the Area Agencies on Aging trains and oversees certified benefits counselors across the state. Benefit Counselors are specially trained to help you find and apply for a plan that works for you. They advocate for you with these programs and help you get the services you need.  Call 800-252-9240 or visit their directory for an office near you.

Texas State Medicare Plans

The Best Medicare Plans Near You

Among the most important decisions regarding Medicare is whether your coverage should only be Original Medicare (Part A and Part B coverage) or if you will want additional coverage by purchasing a Medicare Advantage Plan (Part C coverage).  Some people also need or want Medicare prescription drug coverage (Part D coverage) or Medicare Supplement Insurance (Medigap).  If you join a Medicare Advantage Plan, you don’t need to purchase a Medigap policy.  In fact, if you have a Medicare Advantage Plan, it is illegal for a company to sell you a Medigap policy.

Medicare Advantage Plans are offered by private companies that contract with Medicare to provide Part A and Part B coverage and frequently offer enhanced benefits.  Medicare Advantage Plans include:

  • Health Maintenance Organizations (HMO)
  • Preferred Provider Organizations (PPO)
  • Private Fee-for-Service Plans (PFFS)
  • Special Needs Plans
  • Medicare Medical Savings Account Plans

You can join a Medicare Advantage Plan if you live in the service area of the plan you want to join.  Not all providers offer plans in all areas.  You must also already have Medicare Part A and Part B.

There are many ways to find the best Medicare plans near you.  One source that offers a comprehensive comparison of the best companies by state is offered by U.S. New & World Report which has a five-star rating system that helps people to research various plans.  All plan information and star ratings come directly from the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) at Medicare.gov.  A Best Insurance Company for Medicare Advantage is defined as a company whose plans are rated as at least three out of five stars by CMS and whose plans have an average rating of 4.5 or more stars within the state.  To access the locator tool, go here.

Keep in mind that this is just one option you can access to research Medicare Advantage Plans.  You should undertake a variety of activities and take your time, including working with a Medicare agent, to help you reach the best possible decision for your coverage.

You can also access PolicyZip’s informative “Guide to Choosing and Changing Your Medicare Supplement Insurance” and “Special Enrollment Information for Medicare” articles to help educate yourself on your choices and options.