As an advisor, you play a critical role in your clients’ lives. If you are doing your job well, they come to you with questions. Lots of them. And as they age, their health (both current and future) will be top of mind. Without the right insurance coverage, a single hospital stay could put all they have worked and saved for at risk. However, Medicare can go a long way toward protecting their wealth — if they make the most of it.
Unfortunately, choosing and enrolling in a Medicare plan is often a frustrating, time-consuming process. A recent Kaiser Family Foundation report found that more than 70 percent of Medicare enrollees do not regularly compare plans. Some stayed in their existing plan because they were satisfied, but many more found the process of switching too difficult, the Baltimore Sun reported.1 This is where you can help and provide value.
Meet them where they are
A client’s age is key to understanding which Medicare deadlines they may need to meet.
- Clients who are 64 and 65
Most of your clients will become eligible for Medicare on the first day of the month they turn 65. For a seamless transition from their employer plan to Medicare, they must sign up during the Initial Enrollment Period (IEP), which starts three months before they turn 65 and ends three months after. If a client is collecting Social Security, they will already be enrolled.
- Clients who are over 65
For clients who are over 65, there is a good chance they will already have a Medicare plan, but that doesn’t mean it’s the right plan. If they have had their plan for over a year, it warrants reconsideration. The client’s health needs may have changed or the plan itself may have changed. On the other hand, if they already had the plan when they engaged with you, they may not have done enough comparison-shopping before making their decision. By reevaluating yearly, you may help your client secure the most appropriate solution for their individual needs.
- Clients who want to work past 65
Those who want to keep working and stay on their employer’s health plan after 65 can delay signing up for Original Medicare with no penalty. When they are ready to leave their employer’s plan, they must sign up for Medicare during the Special Enrollment Period (SEP). This period starts the month after their employer coverage ends and lasts for eight months.
An important note: There is usually no premium for Medicare Part A, so clients over 65 who still have coverage from an employer may want to sign up for it anyway. However, doing so will make them ineligible to save pre-tax dollars in a Health Savings Account (HSA). In this case, you may want to advise your client to stop contributing to an HSA a few months before they enroll in Medicare. After they switch to Medicare, they can still use what is left in their HSA for qualified medical expenses.
- Clients in their early 60s
Yes, you can still discuss Medicare, even if retirement is years away! You and your client have a great opportunity to plan ahead, so take advantage of it and introduce the topic early, even if only for education.
Leverage resources like Healthpilot
Envestnet has forged a strategic partnership with Healthpilot, a transformational digital engagement platform that simplifies the Medicare health insurance plan selection and enrollment process. Healthpilot uses proprietary decision-support algorithms to determine the right Medicare plan for every user. Healthpilot will be available at no cost to advisors and their clients through integrations with both the Envestnet and Envestnet | MoneyGuide platforms.
Envestnet’s integration with Healthpilot not only simplifies Medicare plan selection, enrollment, and management for clients, but also merges health insurance coverage and healthcare expense estimates—a key area of focus for clients nearing or in retirement—into the holistic digital experience enabled by Envestnet. Clients can directly enroll in their chosen Medicare Advantage, Medicare Supplement, and Medicare Prescription Drug coverage option online in less than 15 minutes. Based on the client’s insurance plan selection, the estimated out-of-pocket expenses and estimated savings are automatically relayed back to the advisor for incorporation into their financial plan.
Once enrolled, clients can receive real-time access to Medicare plan/benefit highlights, doctor/drug updates, and other plan information. Healthpilot will regularly monitor for any changes to clients’ health needs and modifications to health plans made by insurers—and communicate these updates to clients.
Healthpilot also provides an extensive library of Medicare and healthcare resources for advisors and offers guidance to advisors on how to effectively engage with clients nearing age 65 about Medicare insurance plan enrollment and selection.
Clients want to stay with advisors who make their lives easier. Making the world of Medicare easier to understand is a great way to deepen client relationships and increase retention. To learn more about harnessing the full power of this partnership, advisors can register to access an OnDemand webinar, “Make Healthcare Part of a Complete Financial Plan,” or reach out to the Healthpilot team at email@example.com.
- Meredith Cohn, “Older adults in Baltimore unexpectedly dropped from private Medicare plan offered by Johns Hopkins,” Baltimore Sun, October 22, 2021, https://www.baltimoresun.com/health/bs-hs-medicare-advantage-plans-dropped-20211022-gc547ixbnnf7piswud2sda6mj4-story.html
The information, analysis and opinions expressed herein are for informational purposes only and do not necessarily reflect the views of Envestnet. These views reflect the judgment of the author as of the date of writing and are subject to change at any time without notice. Nothing contained in this piece is intended to constitute legal, tax, accounting, securities, or investment advice, nor an opinion regarding the appropriateness of any investment, nor a solicitation of any type. Envestnet, Inc., has a financial interest in Healthpilot.