Guest Column: Medicare Advantage plans are right fit for many seniors

By Greg Dane | December 29, 2023

Greg Dane

As a licensed independent insurance agent, my primary focus is serving seniors who are Medicare eligible. I would like to respond to the Savvy Senior column “Look out for misleading Medicaid Advantage ads” in last month’s issue of The Active Age.   

Yes, be leery of Medicare Advantage ads on TV, social media and direct mail. Those types of communication are in fact often misleading. There are many reputable ads, however, that are run specifically by the insurance carriers and those ads have to be approved by Medicare. 

Enrolling someone in the right Medicare Advantage plan entails properly vetting their doctors, prescriptions and hospitals. As an agent, I can be cited by Medicare for not properly doing so if a client files a sales allegation against me, at which point documentation of the enrollment must be submitted.

The reality today is 40 percent of Medicare eligible seniors and those who qualify due to disability choose Medicare Advantage plans because they cannot afford a monthly premium. The reason there is no premium for many Medicare Advantage plans is because Medicare compensates the carriers using a portion of the Medicare Part B premium paid by the eligible individual as payment.

I agree with the writer of the article that one should do their homework. However, I disagree that Medical Advantage plans touting free vision, dental and hearing benefits “aren’t always what they seem” as the writer states.

When I am reviewing options with my prospects, I fully disclose what these benefits are and what they cover. Most dental plans cover more than just routine cleaning, like extractions, bridges, and dentures. for example.

In addition, most Medicare Advantage plans offer a quarterly and sometimes monthly allowance for over-the-counter items like allergy mediations, and vitamins/supplements, as well as medical devices like a blood pressure cuff.

Transportation to and from medical appointments is often one of the extra benefits along with personal emergency response devices for those seniors who are a fall risk.

The Savvy Senior column also mentions the State Health Insurance Assistance Program. I respect my peers at SHIP, but there is a huge difference in our two services. I have to be tested annually by a trade organization known as AHIP (America’s Health Insurance Plans) in order to promote Medicare Advantage plans for the next calendar year. I also must pass a state life and health exam and maintain my continuing education in order to keep my license and remain an active agent.

Medicare Advantage plans are not evil and were designed to address the needs of eligible seniors faced with monetary and physical challenges.  They are not for everyone and as an agent, it is my job to determine the proper fit for my clients.

Greg Dane is a licensed insurance agent in Wichita.