Each day approximately 12,000 people turn 65 in the U.S., and one thing many have in common is feeling vulnerable when it comes to choosing the best Medicare plan.
“I’ve had university presidents, cardiac surgeons, and every other profession tell me that they’re embarrassed because they don’t know where to start,” says Sylvia Gordon, whose family has worked in the Medicare field for years. “You don’t need to know Medicare until you’re 65, so you shouldn’t feel bad.”
The good news is that you need not navigate these waters alone. The Medicare Family is a national company licensed in all 50 states, but this local Medicare Family, based in Noblesville, is a third-generation family business that lives and breathes Medicare knowledge.
Sylvia’s mother, Margaret Gordon, started selling Medicare in the 1980s. Sylvia has now done the same for 25 years. Her son, Elliot Sharples-Gordon, is the president of The Medicare Family. In addition, Sylvia’s former husband, Keith Sharples, and his new wife, Leslie Sharples, are part of the team.
“It truly is The Medicare Family because all this family talks about is Medicare,” Sylvia says with a chuckle. “While we work all over the nation, we love to help our neighbors, first and foremost.”
Each customer appreciates working with a local company, where they are seen as a person and not just an 18-digit policy number.
The Medicare Family team knows that Medicare is complex, and trying to understand it can be overwhelming. Comprehending all the ins and outs of the business is not what’s important, however.
“When I go to the mechanic and they try to explain my alternator to me, I listen politely, but I don’t really want to know how a car works,” Sylvia says. “I just want to trust my mechanic. We can explain to you everything you need to know about Medicare, but I’d prefer to impress upon you that you’re making the right choice to work with us because we’re going to be here for the rest of your life.”
Eager to shortcut the process, clients often ask, “What’s the best plan?” Or they may say, “My neighbor likes plan X so I’ll go with that one too.”
However, it’s not a one-size-fits-all situation when it comes to these plans. It all hinges on your prescriptions, doctors, health care, and expectation of future health. Husbands and wives may also end up with different plans. Such is the case for Sylvia’s parents, who are on diametrically opposed plans.
“They both feel they have the best one, and if you look at their health conditions and how much they use their insurance, they are both on the best plan for them,” Sylvia says.
It makes sense, given that nobody has the same health conditions as their spouse, nor do they always see the same doctors.
Additionally, once you select a plan, you’re not done forever.
“It’s like getting an annual physical every year, whether you want to or not,” Sylvia says.
If you have a Medicare drug plan or a private Medicare Advantage plan, regardless of health or where you live, you can change your plan every year during a special window, from October 15 through December 7.
Each year, clients call Elliot and his team to let them know if anything has changed in terms of their medications, marital status or other factors. Then Elliot lets them know of changes, because the government changes Medicare details every year. In addition, prices go up every year, so if you’re not checking, you could be paying a lot more than you should.
“Unless you’re rich and don’t care about money, you need to check every year to see if you can improve your position in terms of better benefits or a lower rate,” Elliot says.
Often, he may advise clients to do nothing and just stay where they are for another year, but you don’t know unless you check.
This year, in addition to health benefits, companies are offering money for groceries, utilities, cellular phones and rent.
“They’re going deeper into social benefits, one of which is transportation since a lot of people don’t like to drive,” Sylvia says. “Unfortunately, people often get lured in and end up with an inferior health plan that might not be in their best interest.”
Sometimes people think it’s better to call an insurance company directly and sign up themselves. They assume that by cutting out a middleman they are saving money, when, in actuality, all they’re doing is cutting out an expert who essentially works for them for free.
“We take something that’s super confusing and make it simple for people, and we do it without charging you a dime,” Elliot says. “That’s a win-win.”
Sylvia, who trains insurance agents nationally, is also a content creator on social media – specifically, the Medicare Mama on TikTok, with 270,000 followers. She does free live training events that each get between 5,000 and 10,000 views. The original intent was to cover Medicare only, but there has been a huge amount of interest in Social Security content, and since no one was fulfilling that need, she now covers that too.
“People ask us about veterans benefits and federal employee benefits – anything retirement related,” she says. “They want to know if they’re going to pay more for Medicare based on their taxes. Then there are the tax brackets and Social Security tax, and if you take your pension early, is that going to make your Medicare more? It all dovetails.”
Sylvia, who enlists the help of her 87-year-old father, Dick, and 81-year-old mother, Margaret, to star in the informational videos, makes the content fun.
“People like watching these TikTok videos because it’s not like a class,” Sylvia says. “They learn something while being entertained.”
For more info, call 800-970-1964, email email@example.com, or visit themedicarefamily.com.
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