January 22, 2021
The coronavirus pandemic and response affect every facet of our lives. From daycares to nursing homes, our world has turned upside down. Uncertainty rules the day, and while the broader health and economic fallout of this pandemic are yet to be resolved, change is inevitable.
Change and business necessity have driven workers to telecommute, imposed furloughs, and caused layoffs. The added pressures and changing business climate are forcing more seniors 65 or older into retirement earlier than expected.
Eric Smith of Medicare Advisors of Alabama, a Birmingham-based Medicare broker, has seen an increase in retirees losing group insurance coverage. Many have made contact asking about what options they have.
The lure of retirement is tempting but equally frightening, as are the financial and insurance decisions. Complicated parts, late enrollment penalties, and donut holes are just some of the daunting concerns retiring seniors face.
"Most people have never shopped for health insurance," explains Smith. "Their employer made the major insurance decisions, and the personal choices were between a few plan options."
Medicare Advisors of Alabama offers several services to retiring seniors and their families. Services include education on how Medicare works; consultation on the best plans for the retiree’s health, lifestyle, and financial status; and enrollment process assistance.
Often seniors have only heard pieces of how Medicare works or a scenario or two from friends. Medicare Advisors provides a simplified presentation on each part of Medicare, how the parts work together, and how insurance fits in the Medicare framework.
“An understanding of the Medicare parts and insurance choices gives us a base to explain the details unique to the client,” says Blaine Humphrey, an agent at Medicare Advisors.
When facing an earlier than expected retirement, the details can be intimidating. Seniors often face chronic and age-related health concerns that require specific drugs and access to specialists. Local Medicare insurance agents are trained and experienced in reviewing an individual’s needs, down to each specialist doctor’s name, and what plans cover specific drugs and procedures.
Agents help seniors navigate Medicare insurance options and find the best fit for their health and finances.
Seniors quickly realize Medicare is different from other forms of insurance. Human resource departments and employee benefits managers are often not well versed in Medicare and may steer seniors to a standard COBRA health coverage. Ill-advised decisions can cause missed Medicare benefits in the short-term and may even cost the retiree penalties in the future.
"In the event you are laid off, tell your human resources department you are over 65," advises Smith.
The business world is changing rapidly, and Medicare insurance companies are no exception. During the pandemic, much of the Medicare insurance enrolment process has moved online. Medicare Advisors works with all major Medicare insurance companies and has seen many of them transition to an online process, over-the-phone enrollment, or a hybrid.
In this time of uncertainty and change, it is even more critical to stay educated and make sound financial decisions. Seniors retiring early today have some extra challenges and need to make smart decisions that will fulfill their immediate needs and position them well into the future.
Good understanding and choices lead to the peace of mind to move on past these uncertain times and begin living a well-deserved retirement.