Every year between October 15th and December 7th Medicare beneficiaries have the opportunity to make changes to their existing policies and change their benefits with regard to Medicare Supplement plans, Medicare Advantage plans and Prescription Drug plans. It can be an overwhelming time for seniors as they sift through all the literature that has been mailed to them, and all the plans they've been researching online.
Your clients should have received their 'Annual Notice of Change' from their insurance company. This notice will list any changes in their policy, such as possible increase in costs or coverage. The notice should compare the benefits they currently have and what they will be in 2020. Their prescription drug plans should also be reviewed at this time of year to ensure that their medications will still be covered.
As their insurance agent, you can assist them with making the best decision regarding their policies for the next year or even longer. We've laid out everything your clients can do during this enrollment period below.
So what exactly can your clients do?
There are so many options for your clients, and it can be a daunting process to assist them with their choices, but utilizing our tools and resources will help make the process smoother. Some of these tools include using our rate and underwriting tool which will allow you to cost compare Medicare Supplement and Medicare Advantage plans for them. If you don't have access to our Resource for Rates tool, you can request access and receive a 30 day trial. Our contracted agents always have full access to this tool. It's also available as an app in the App Store and on Google Play. Use your login credentials for the desktop version to access quotes on the go.
Reviewing our new Medicare & Part D Plan Finder guide will help you if you're not AHIP certified and selling prescription drug plans to your clients. It's a step-by-step guide to the newly launched site on Medicare.gov. The new plan finder has a much simpler, and user-friendly interface; however, it does encourage Medicare beneficiaries to create a My Medicare account and to login with their credentials so they can save their prescriptions. It is not necessary to have them create an account if they do not wish to; you'll still be able to assist them with their drug choices.
In some cases, your clients may already have the best plans, and they won't need to do a thing. However, this is your opportunity to review their policies and determine if they'd be better off with another plan. It also provides the opportunity to open up the discussion about other types of insurance they may need.
Reminding your prospects that using your services doesn’t cost them a dime is something that may slip your mind. When seniors are overwhelmed with phone calls and postcards before their 65th birthday, they go to the internet to research their Medicare options. And as you know, many seniors purchase their policies online directly from the carrier without any real guidance.
There is no fee for using a reputable, knowledgeable insurance agent to guide you to the best insurance decision
This one crucial element can help you secure more clients in that it shows them your value. Seniors are overwhelmed by the amount of information available to them on the topic of Medicare. And it’s not an easy topic to understand. There are so many nuances when it comes to understanding the intricacies of Medicare and the different parts, deductibles and options available to cover gaps.
Your value is that you can explain Medicare in layman’s terms and research the best options for your clients based on their health, age and state of residence. Choosing the wrong plan with a fly by night carrier is a recipe for disaster. Seniors need to understand that Medicare is not like employee-based coverage. Helping your clients and prospects understand Parts A, B, C and D is the value you bring.
Many seniors are apt to dive into a Medicare Advantage plan because of the cost savings. However, if their health takes a turn for the worse, or their network pulls out of their county, they’re in big trouble. Explaining the differences between Medicare Advantage plans and Medicare Supplement plans is a huge value add. For some, the cost savings is paramount on a fixed income, and a supplement plan is not a viable option. But for those who can afford it? Explaining that they can use any doctor or hospital they choose without being confined to a network is peace of mind for the premium they’ll pay.
The next time you approach a prospect, remind them that prices for Medicare Supplement and Medicare Advantage plans are set. There is no additional fee by using your services. It may well be the deciding factor for them.
Yet another wave of Medicare scammers is on the rise. As new Medicare cards will be mailed out, seniors are finding themselves susceptible to phone scammers who are calling and identifying themselves as representatives from Medicare.
Callers are requesting payment for the new Medicare cards that are absolutely FREE. Please advise your Medicare-aged and eligible clients to be wary of such scams and not to give out private information about themselves. Medicare will correspond only via mail.
To report a scam, please use the Better Business Bureau Scam Tracker, contact Medicare.gov directly at 800-MEDICARE or report the scam or fraud at Medicare Fraud Reporting.
There are two types of insurance agents. Those who sell you what YOU think you need, and those who sell you what you TRULY need.
You have your hustlers who get out there and sell that quick life policy or home owner’s policy because that’s what their client came to them for. But do they take the time to get to know their clients and follow a well thought-out customer engagement model? An engagement model that steps them out of the insurance agent role and into the caring and trusted advisor role?
Let’s face it, getting that next policy on the books is good for your bottom line, and if you’ve got 300 clients, then what’s selling just another policy? Or wait? Is that really who you are? What your business is about? Just selling insurance to pay the bills, and get that free trip the carrier promised you? Or is it more? Are you the type of insurance agent who wants to be remembered for helping others? The type of individual who leaves behind a legacy? The type of professional who went above and beyond to insure his/her clients were getting EXACTLY what they needed?
If you’re following that customer engagement model and talking to your clients about their lives, you’re learning about them and where they need your insight and advice. They’re coming to you for your knowledge and expertise. If they weren’t, they’d just buy their insurance online and forgo the whole insurance agent altogether. Right?
Your client wants to purchase a life insurance policy, but is also turning 65 later this year, and will likely need some type of supplemental insurance once he’s retired and enrolled in Medicare. If you’re asking the client his age when you’re running a quote for his life policy, the next step in your mind should be to discuss his health insurance needs after reviewing life insurance options. That’s not rocket science. From there you can dive deeper into your client’s needs and mention long-term care. If he’s planning on retiring at age 65 and enrolling in Medicare, long-term care isn’t covered by Medicare unless he requires skilled services or rehabilitative care. Long-term Care costs are staggering. Nursing home facilities command a whopping $82,125/year for a just semi-private room.
It takes a matter of minutes to open up the doors for discussion when you’re speaking to a client or a prospect. A quick policy on the books is great for your bank account, but satisfied clients who refer your services because you’ve gone above and beyond to help them with a complete solution? Legacy status.
Selling your clients insurance or a solution? It all lies in your hands.
Medicare Open Enrollment vs Guaranteed Issue Rights
Medicare Supplements (Medigap policies) have two different types of enrollment periods that don’t require you to answer health (medical) questions. These different periods of time are called a few different names which can be obscure. Here is a break down to better understand the different terms and their specific rules.
Medicare Supplement (Medigap) Open Enrollment
This period is considered your “initial enrollment period”. Thus the reason it is called your “initial enrollment period” is that many confuse the Medigap Open Enrollment period with the Medicare Open Enrollment period. Medicare Open Enrollment permits someone to change their Medicare Drug or Medicare Advantage plan each year, whereas Medigap’s Open Enrollment normally only allows you ONE guaranteed enrollment period, regardless of preexisting conditions.This period lasts six months and begins the first day of the month in which you are 65 or older and enrolled in Medicare Part B. So if you turn 65 on April 3 but don’t join Medicare B until May 25, your Medigap Open Enrollment Period will start on June 1, which is the first day of the month in which you are both 65 and enrolled in Part B. (Some States such as CA, have a 30 day Medigap Birthday rule that allows you to switch Medigap plans to an equal or lesser value than your current Medigap plan during your birth month-without answering health questions).
Medigap Guaranteed Issue Rights
The chart below describes the situations, under federal law, that give you a right to buy a policy, the kind of policy you can buy, and when you can or must apply for it. States may provide additional Medigap guaranteed issue rights.
Source: 2017 Choosing A Medigap Policy
Carolyn Portanova is the Director of Marketing at The Brokerage Resource and has been with the firm since 2012.