Frequently Asked Questions
Ascend is a digital-first health insurance platform focused on Medicare. We founded Ascend after seeing and hearing first-hand how difficult, confusing and frustrating it is for consumers to find and select the right Medicare insurance plan.
Our company’s mission to make Medicare more transparent and accessible for America’s 60 million Medicare beneficiaries. We aim to simplify a traditionally confusing and complex decision by delivering you a simple, delightful and comprehensive enrollment experience.
Our goal is to empower consumers to utilize their benefits, access quality care and take control of their healthcare experience by giving them better access to quality tools and information.
Ascend is dedicated to delivering an end-to-end enrollment experience from research, evaluation to enrollment. You can think of us as your free personal Medicare concierge service.
Our goal is to be the only insurance site you need for enrolling in Medicare. That means we:
- Offer all the top insurance companies so you don’t have to shop elsewhere
- Explain what you need to know in plain English so you don’t have to research elsewhere
There is no “one size fits all” Medicare solution and a plan may seem less expensive up front but end up costing you more in the long run. At Ascend, we partner with you to remove the guesswork so you have complete clarity and transparency.
We combine state-of-the-art research tools with best-in-class knowledge of the Medicare to find you the coverage that best fits your individual needs. You can connect with licensed insurance agent that can answer your questions and walk through the best options based on your personal healthcare and budget.
Yes, Ascend’s services are 100% free and there is no obligation whatsoever to enroll in a plan.
At Ascend, we are committed to independent advice and our agents are dedicated to providing unbiased insurance advice. We will not try to upsell or steer you into a plan that does not suit your needs.
As a company, we get paid a commission by insurance companies for enrolling you in an insurance plan.
But don’t worry: these commissions do not impact the price you receive or are quoted for different Medicare plans whether you purchase them through us or directly with an insurance company. This means you never pay extra to use our service.
We understand that commissions introduce a potential conflict of interest. But we avoid that conflict by:
- Being transparent: we show you all quotes from a wide panel of insurance companies, so that you have full clarity on your options
- Focusing on advice: we publish free resources to help you make smart decisions about health insurance. Our licensed experts also focus on advice and customer service, not sales.
- Being customer-first: one of our company values is to do the right thing for our customers. We are committed to never upselling or steering you into a plan that does not suit your needs and will happily let you know if your current plan is the best plan for your situation.
No, whether you enroll into a Medicare health insurance plan with us, with another agent/broker or directly from Insurance Company X, you cannot get a cheaper price for the same policy from Insurance Company X. This is because each insurance company files their prices with the federal regulator, and everyone has to use those prices. It is illegal for us or anyone else to discount that price.
However, you can save money and make smart decisions by comparing insurance policies across the market (like Amazon). Each company competes to offer you the best coverage and you as a consumer win. At Ascend, we strive to offer all the top insurance companies, to make sure you get the best policy for you and save money.
No, Ascend is an independent insurance platform. What that means is that we represent multiple insurance companies and have no bias to recommend one over another.
We work with top insurance companies across the country so you can be confident that you’re buying from a very reputable insurance company. For us it’s important you find the right insurance policy for your needs. When insurance companies compete for your business, you win.
At Ascend, we are focused on Medicare-related plans. We can help enroll you into a Medicare Advantage (Part C), Medigap (also known as ‘Medicare Supplement’) or Prescription Drug Plans (PDPs). We will also help you determine whether staying in Original Medicare or enrolling in Medicare Advantage makes the most sense for you.
If it is recommended you purchase a Medicare Advantage plan, we will check to make sure that your doctor preferences and prescription drugs are covered. If it is recommended that you stay in Original Medicare, we will also help evaluate whether any Medigap or PDP plans are suitable for your situation.
Yes, if you are enrolling in a Medicare Advantage plan and have specific doctors and prescription drugs that you must have our platform will be able to check if they are included in the plan.
If you are enrolling in a Medigap plan (and therefore enrolled in Original Medicare), you be able to use any doctor across the country that accepts Medicare.
If you are enrolling in a Prescription Drug Plan (PDP), we will always help check if the plan covers your prescription drugs.
You are always free to use our research tolls and platform before you enroll in Medicare. Our friendly customer support team is always happy to help answer any of your questions.
In most cases, you will need to be already be on Medicare and eligible to enroll or switch Medicare plans during a specificed Medicare ‘Enrollment Period’ before we can help you purchase a Medicare Advantage, Medigap or Prescription Drug Plan.
If you need to enroll in Medicare you can enroll online by visiting: ssa.gov/benefits/medicare.
Medicare is a federal program that delivers health insurance for U.S. citizens (and permanent residents with more than 5 years continuous residency) who are age 65 and older as well as individuals with certain illnesses or disabilities.
Original (or ‘Traditional’) Medicare provided by the government helps to cover costs of hospitalization services (Medicare Part A) and physician services (Medicare Part B). It does not cover prescription drugs (otherwise known as part D) or any other medical services. While Original Medicare will help pay costs. You are responsible for paying premiums, deductibles, copayments or coinsurance costs.
Medicare Advantage (also known as Medicare Part C) is Medicare coverage that is provided by private insurance companies contracted with Medicare. Medicare Part C is an all-in-one ‘bundled’ alternative to Original Medicare and covers everything that Original Medicare (Parts A and B) covers and often includes extra benefits as well such as prescription drugs coverage as well as dental, vision and hearing care.
Ascend can help you determine if Medicare Advantage is a good option for you and if so, which plan may suit your situation.
Medigap plans are insurance that help to cover the ‘gaps’ in Original Medicare. In other words, Medigap plans help to pay for the out of pocket costs such as deductibles, copays and coinsurance that you are responsible for under Original Medicare. Medigap can only be used with an Original Medicare plan and does not cover prescription drug cost (Part D) or any extra benefits.
There are 10 different standardized Medigap plans (A, B, C, D, F, G, K, L, M, and N) depending on your needs and budget. When comparing the same Medigap plan across different private health insurance companies your only differentiation is the premium and the insurer’s reputation.
Ascend can help you determine if Medigap is a good option for you and if so, which plan may suit your situation.
Medicare Part D plans refers to prescription drug coverage.
A Prescription Drug Plan (PDP) is standalone prescription drug insurance policy provided by private insurance companies. Original Medicare does not cover prescription drugs, however, by purchasing a PDP you may lower your prescription drug costs and protect yourself against higher costs.
You can also receive Part D coverage if you enroll in a Medicare Advantage plan which includes Part D. an all-in-one ‘bundled’ alternative to Original Medicare and covers everything that Original Medicare (Parts A and B) covers and often includes extra benefits as well such as prescription drugs coverage as well as dental, vision and hearing care.
Ascend can help you find the most affordable Part D coverage for your prescription drugs.
When evaluating Medicare plans, you should look consider the following:
- Doctor coverage – whether a plan covers your doctor(s)
- Prescription drug coverage – whether a plan has prescription drug coverage and if that your drugs are included in that plans list of ‘covered’ drugs (also called a ‘drug formulary’). Formularies differ between different plans so it’s essential to check if the plan covers prescription drugs, and if so, which drugs
- Total out of pocket costs – In addition to your monthly premium, you should also evaluate other out-of-pocket costs like the deductible, copays, coinsurance and maximum out-of-pocket amounts before selecting your health insurance plan
- Additional benefits – many Medicare Advantage plans offer additional benefits for their members that are not covered by Original Medicare. For example, some Medicare Advantage plans include free memberships to gyms. Other plans provide services such as virtual doctor visits or even making an appointment online
Ascend can help you to make sure all the above considerations are reviewed before you enroll in a plan.
You can enroll in Medicare during one of these periods:
- Initial Enrollment Period – Most people can first enroll in Medicare (Part A, B, C and D) during a 7-month window: 3 months before the month you turn 65, the month you turn 65, and three months after the month you turn 65
- Medicare Part C & D Annual Enrollment Period (AEP) – between October 15 and December 7 every year, existing Medicare beneficiaries can use this period to re-evaluate and make changes to their Medicare Advantage (Part C) and Medicare prescription drug plans (Part D). You cannot use AEP to enroll in Part A and/or Part B for the first time. If you enroll in a plan during AEP, coverage starts on January 1 of the following year.
- Special Enrollment Period (SEP) – You may qualify for a special period the enroll in Medicare based on certain life events such as you change residence or lose current coverage. Depending on your circumstance, you generally will have two full months to enroll.
- Medicare General Enrollment Period (GEP) – January 1 to March 31, every year. Most people will enroll in Medicare Part B coverage when they first sign up for Medicare. GEP is reserved for individuals who chose not to enroll in Part B when they were first eligible. Coverage starts July 1 of the same year.
- Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period (MA-OEP) – January 1 to March 31, every year. MA-OEP is only for people who are enrolled in a Medicare Advantage plan as of January 1. During MA-OEP, you can switch to a different Medicare Advantage plan with or without drug coverage, or switch back to Original Medicare and also join a standalone Medicare Prescription Drug plan. You cannot switch from Original Medicare to a Medicare Advantage plan during this period.
If you are turning 65 and have already been receiving Social Security or Railroad Retirement Board (RRB) benefits for at least 4 months prior to your 65th birthday, you will automatically be enrolled in Medicare.
If this does not apply, you can sign up to Original Medicare using one of these options:
- Apply online at Social Security. If you started your online application and have your re-entry number, you can go back to Social Security to finish your application.
- Visit your local Social Security office. Call Social Security at 1-800-772-1213 (TTY: 1-800-325-0778).
- If you worked for a railroad, call the RRB at 1-877-772-5772.
- If you already have Part A and want to sign up for Part B, complete an Application for Enrollment in Part B (CMS-40B). Get this form and instructions in Spanish.