Financial advisors who make the effort to learn the ins and outs of Medicare can save individual elderly clients tens of thousands of dollars over time.

And could also save their lives.
Nearly 10,000 people a day reach the age of 65, at which point Medicare begins. Enrolling in the program does not mean just checking a box. There are deadlines to be met and plan choices to be made that could mean significant cost savings—and thus quality of life improvements—for seniors, said Fred Riccardi, director of client services for the Medicare Rights Center.
The center offers a 14-hour online course, “Medicare Intensive for Financial Planners,” that is approved for continuing education credits by the CFP Board.
A major way an advisor can help a senior save money is by helping the client shop for a Medigap plan. The difference between two similar plans in one area can be up to $3,000 per year, depending on the insurance company offering it.
An advisor can save clients another potential $3,000 annually by encouraging them to inform Social Security when their income drops precipitously through retirement, when they suffer a job loss or have a cutback in hours. Premiums for Medicare Part B (the outpatient component of Medicare; Part A is hospitalization) can range from $134 per month to $428.60 per month depending on income.
This is not the only place in the Medicare universe where time is money.
Failing to miss the initial enrollment deadline can raise premiums for a senior by 10 percent for every 12 months past the due date. There is a deadline for enrolling in Medigap plans as well.
Advisors can save seniors more still by urging retired clients to see if their former employers offer subsidized medical coverage, which can help pay bills Medicare doesn’t at all or not in full.
One of the most important sections of the Medicare course for advisors is the one on appeals.
Medicare can initially deny payment for a drug a client needs to live.
“But ‘no’ doesn’t necessarily mean a final no, particularly with support from a doctor,” said Riccardi.
The first thing participants must do is compare the costs and coverage of original Medicare, Medigap and Medicare Part D prescription drug plans and Medicare Advantage programs.
For people enrolled in traditional Medicare, adding a Medigap plan may be the most financially advantageous move. While this means another premium to be paid, there will be savings because all out-of-pocket costs are covered, said Riccardi.