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Medicare guidance, local support

BUSINESS PROFILE: DBE Insurance, Litchfield & New London

DBE Insurance works hard to find the right plan for each client

By Jim Palmer

Americans age 65 years and older are all eligible for Medicare. And if you are in that age range, you likely are bombarded with Medicare information, advice and offers from companies across the country through various methods and outlets. But what companies can you trust for the correct information and advice? DBE Insurance, with offices in Litchfield and New London, knows the area, knows Medicare, and are committed to helping clients in the area they serve.

“We just try to educate people so they have a clear decision instead of having someone just calling them from a 1-800 number telling them to ‘just buy this one,’” said Brent Brekke, partner/agent with DBE. “We will want to look at where they are doctoring, what their current health condition looks like, and what they may have in the horizon in terms of work and procedures. We also want to look at the prescriptions that you use, as you can only change your prescription plan once each year, so that is a big one. ”

DBE Insurance agent, Peyton Aller (left), and Brent Brekke partner/agent (right) explains the Medicare plans and options to a client at their office in Litchfield. Contributed photo

DBE is an independent insurance agency, and Brekke said that is important because they can search plans from a variety of carriers/insurance companies to find the right policy for their clients, instead of relying on just one.

“Our focus is to shop local, provide good customer service, always follow through, and help our clients find the right providers,” he said.

Brekke, along with Peyton Aller, DBE agent, encourage people to connect with them for a no cost one-to-one meeting to discuss the plans, and then select one that works best with the client’s health conditions, current prescriptions and price points. Changes to existing plans can be made during the Medicare Annual Enrollment Period (AEP), which runs from Oct. 15 to Dec. 7.

“We know about every plan that can be considered in all the counties we serve, which includes Meeker, Stearns, Kandiyhoi, McLeod, Wright and Renville counties. Even if you are not going to go with us, I encourage people to deal with a local rep that understands your county and your needs in that county,” said Brekke.

Why it is such a big deal to have someone local review the options?

“We had 3-4 of our own clients who had switched to someone else and the regretted it, and one of them didn’t even know that he had switched. He didn’t remember saying yes. These companies have all the information on these people from a data base, so all they need the client to say is “sure” or a certain word that triggers that application to go through,” said Brekke.

One of the Medicare-focused national companies even called Brekke by mistake, thinking he was 65 and just qualifying for Medicare. So he got to hear first hand what many seniors experience.

“When they called I asked the guy what plans I was eligible for in my county. They didn’t know. They couldn’t tell me. They were literally just phishing,” he said.

Other companies, Brekke said, will travel to different areas of the state and to try to sell a bunch of plans in a short period of time.

“Then once the enrollment period is over, the client will try to call that agent and he or she is gone,” said Brekke.

And sometimes, the person being called doesn’t even know that the agent isn’t local.

The DBE Insurance team of Litchfield and New London, left to right: Chad Thompson, Jaime Liestman, Peyton Aller, Brent Brekke, Cher Becker and Jim Danner. Contributed photo

“My dad actually signed up with someone who didn’t know his health history or anything, and it was not a suitable plan for him,” said Jaime Liestman, office manager at DBE. “He was stuck, and had to wait a year before getting out of that plan.”

DBE, in contrast, is local and can always be reached by phone or in person.

“We have two storefronts, we travel door to door, and we help their clients at their houses if they want us to,” said Brekke. “You have to have someone who is going to be there for you and knows the area. That is the big thing -- find someone local, find good representation, and find someone who is doing the right thing for you.”

One person who found someone to be there for her was Jean L. of Litchfield, a long-time client of DBE Insurance.

“I have been with DBE for several years with my auto insurance, and more recently, they have also been helping me with Medicare. They have been very helpful,” said Jean. “Much of the information on Medicare is over my head, difficult to understand. They have been helpful pointing me in the right direction. They are very supportive and encouraging and, really, I would be lost without them.”

And a visit to one of their offices has been a good experience, too.

“One of the things that they are known for is their good customer service. I’m always greeted by a friendly face at the front desk and they have been very helpful on everything I have asked,” said Jean. “I would definitely recommend DBE Insurance.”

Need to sign up for Medicare? Want to make changes to your current plan? In need of a review of your current plan? Now is the time to sign up or make changes for the next year.

“The beauty of the AEP is that we can review it each year between Oct. 15 and Dec. 7,” said Brekke. “For example, if you are on a Cost Plan in Meeker or McLeod and something changed (medical condition/subscriptions/etc) they can move over to a different plan and it could be better and more affordable.”

And if there are questions before or after the AEP, DBE is just a call, email or text away.

“One thing that we pride ourselves in is customer service,” said Liestman. ‘We help our clients with sending in the reimbursements or any other way they need throughout the year.”

“We are definitely here to provide that support.” said Brekke. “The easiest thing for people to do is call us or come in and ask us questions. It costs them nothing to set up an appointment and go over what we feel is the best policy for them.”

“Not only is it OK to call us when things come up, but we encourage them to call us,” said Liestman. “It saves headaches in the long run.”

Sometimes those calls also serve as reminder that changes will need to be made when the AEP opens up.

Overall, the Medicare Advantage Plans have been greatly improved, said Brekke. And because they have improved, added perks are now being added to the Medicare Cost Plans.

“And the co-pays have stayed low,” he said. “Everything has stayed very low.”

But there is not one plan that works for everyone. DBE will go over the client’s medical needs, doctoring needs and prescription needs, and then talk about the different plans and their perks (including dental, vision, gym membership, etc.) to determine what plan fits best.

To help get the correct information out to seniors new to Medicare, DBE hosts regular Medicare Marketing Workshops. These meetings are designed for those who have just turning 65 years of age. The workshop dates are printed on this page.

“There are a lot of questions in those sessions but the main question is probably, ‘where do I even start?’ said Aller. “And then after learning about the different parts of Medicare, they have a lot of questions about the supplements and what is available in their county.”

While some of the attendees at these meetings have a good base knowledge of Medicare and how it works, most do not.

“There are a couple people who know what is going on, but a majority of people are not aware,” said Aller.

“And sometimes they are getting their information from people who don’t really know,” said Liestman.

“I can guarantee the people they are talking to at the coffee shop are not experts at Medicare,” said Brekke.

Whether their first stop is at this Medicare Marketing Workshops, or a scheduled appointment with Brekke or Aller, getting the right information is important in making decisions that best suit the clients.

“At least 85 percent of these people coming into Medicare have retired and are coming off of group coverage after working with an employer forever, and they just took what the employer gave them. They never had to shop around and look at options, so for a lot of people this is the first time they are even looking at health insurance options. It is not easy because of the different plans, but we try to educate them so they can understand each piece of it.

Besides Medicare, services offered by DBE Insurance of Litchfield and New London include numerous insurances: Life, Auto, Home, Vision, Health, Dental, Liability, Business, Disability, Animal, Recreational Vehicles, Annuities, Long Term Care, 401(k) Rollovers, Debt Free Program, Retirement Planning, Employer Group Benefits, and Group Benefits Administration.

Joining Brekke, Aller and Liestman on the DBE team are Cher Becker, office assistant at DBE in Litchfield, and Chad Thompson office agent/personal lines agent at the New London office.

Anyone who is 65 years of age in America is eligible for Medicare regardless of whether or not you are receiving Social Security benefits. People who have qualified for 24 months of Social Security Disability also are eligible.

If you are currently eligible for Medicare or are near the age of Medicare eligibility, it is important to sign up with Medicare. Signing up as soon as you are eligible can avoid a costly late enrollment penalty.

DBE Insurance in Litchfield is located at 32 East Second Street. For information or to make an appointment, call 320-593-4968. DBE Insurance in New London is located at 105 Central Avenue East in New London. Their phone number is 320-354-2900.

To learn more, visit their website at or Facebook at DBE Financial & Insurance Solutions.

This is a paid business profile. If you would like to learn more about promoting your business in the Sr. Perspective with a business profile, call Jim at 320-334-3344.

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