How many times a week do you see or hear a Medicare commercial exclaiming you can find a plan with benefits from everything under the sun, like free dental coverage, transportation, meals, and even getting your entire Part B premium added back on your Social Security Check? You will hear power phrases from these same commercials, such as “Make Sure You Are Getting All The Medicare Benefits You Deserve” or “See What Extra Medicare Benefits You Could Be Missing Out On.”
It became big news when a famous confident quarterback, or a retired renowned journalist, or now I see an actor from a popular 70’s sitcom, started promoting these “excellent, free” Medicare plans, supposedly wanting to help you find a plan they are touting. Allegedly, these plans include all of the bells and whistles listed above while also leading you to believe that these paid spokespeople receive all these benefits as Medicare beneficiaries. And, if you call this 800 number, you can also have one of these Medicare plans!
Listen carefully to each one of their words; technically, they are correct because plans like that exist. The average consumer usually misses one or two crucial words, and that’s “Qualify” or “May Be” And that is the hook! “Call Now To See If You Qualify!” or “Call Now To See What You May Be Entitled To” “Call Now It’s Free!”
To qualify for one of these plans, you must first be considered a dual-eligible individual. Dual eligibility is when someone is a Medicare beneficiary and a Medicaid beneficiary, and I doubt any of these celebrities qualify for the plan they are advertising. Remember, they pay these well-known celebrities to promote these massive Medicare call centers. These are also the same call centers that are Robo-Dialing Medicare beneficiaries all across the country daily that say they want to help you find a plan with all those benefits. Medicare advertising is a big business and causes enormous problems for many Medicare recipients who call these toll-free numbers or answer the phone from call centers.
After all, zero for everything sounds pretty darn good, and having your entire Medicare Part B premium returned onto your Social Security check is a dream come true! But when someone calls, the first question out of the person’s mouth who answers the call is, “What is your Medicare number and date of birth so I can check if you qualify?” The second someone gives up that information they now have access to their Medicare account. Almost instantly, they find a plan that may or may not be appropriate and switch the caller to something they didn’t necessarily need or want.
Medicare companies have doubled or even tripled their budget since Covid 19 swept the country. That budget will likely continue to increase for years to come because of their success! All these companies have one goal: hoping the commercial hooks you enough for you to call the toll-free number. Once you reach out to them, the person answering is a highly trained salesman, not necessarily a highly trained Medicare agent. Their end game is to switch you to any Medicare plan associated with their company, and that’s it.
Don’t get me wrong, many people can qualify for one of the plans with all those bells and whistles, and I have several clients on one of these plans. But does anyone want a call center as their agent? To be safe, always work with a licensed insurance agent specializing in Medicare. Let them find a plan that is appropriate for you. Also, ensure the agent represents multiple carriers with several different products at their disposal. The bottom line, stay away from Medicare TV ads that promise the world. These celebrities could care less if your Medicare insurance plan is right for you!