Allegian and Harbor Health Plan expand their market share for 2016!

RB Insurance is ready to make more sales happen for our affiliated agents in Texas and Michigan. Allegian Health Plans in the Lone Star State and Harbor Health Plan in the Great Lakes State are set to offer extremely competitive Medicare Advantage plans in new counties for 2016, expanding their total market share.

Allegian Health Plans Shines in an under-served market

Formerly known as Valley Baptist Health Plans, Allegian started as a physician’s network in southern Texas over 15 years ago, providing health care services to Texas residents under Allegian Advantage Insurance Company. It contracted with employers in the lower Rio Grande Valley to administer health benefits to employees. On January 1, 2014, Allegian Advantage made its debut as Texas’ newest HMO providing medical, hospital and prescription drug coverage to Medicare beneficiaries in the lower Rio Grande Valley. The plan was huge success and offered some of the best care in an under-served market.

Harbor Health Plan offers coverage to Motor City members

Since 1996 Harbor Health Plan has provided health care services to Michigan residents, first as ProCare Health Plan and now as Harbor Health Plan, administering Medicaid benefits to residents of Wayne County. Offering what some would call a superior Care Delivery System with over 1,500 contracted physicians and 10 major hospitals in the Detroit area. On January 1, 2014 Harbor Health Plan officially launched Harbor Advantage, a Michigan-based HMO that provides medical, hospital and prescription drug coverage to Medicare beneficiaries living in Wayne County.

Why should you pay attention to these excellent plans

Simply put, these two plans are in a great position to build on their momentum and they want to share their success with independent agents by providing you direct carrier leads. In Texas, Allegian is expanding into San Antonio and El Paso counties for 2016. If you’re an agent working in these markets, add Allegian to your portfolio of senior products to give your clients the freedom to choose the specialist that’s right for them.

In Michigan, Harbor Health Plan is set to hit a home run as it expands into Macomb and Oakland counties for 2016.

As an agent, you’ll love how easy it is to work with these carriers. Even though the benefits aren’t available yet, their Unique Care Delivery System (Open Access, No Referral Networks) provides an unique selling position for you as an agent. Keep checking The Agent’s Advantage and bookmark our redesigned website to say updated!

Your clients will appreciate the freedom to choose how they receive their healthcare as part of a member-focused health plan. Best of all, you’ll receive the maxmium CMS-allowable commission when you choose to represent one of these great plans paid to you directly.

So, are you ready to take advantage of this expansion opportunity? Click here to begin your easy, two-step Harbor Health Plan contracting. Allegian Health Plans contracting is just as easy — just click here.



Get out there and market yourself! Part Two

Here’s my second post in a series of three about different kinds of events you can be a part of to market your senior insurance business. Read Part One here.

I loved working informal sales events when I was in the field full time because it’s an effective and compliant way to set appointments.

Informal sales events include popular senior expos, county fairs, church meetings and just about any gathering that’s likely to attract groups of Medicare beneficiaries. I’ll go over a few simple dos and don’ts below that can help you set more appointments, but you should always check CMS’ Medicare Marketing Guidelines for the complete set of regulations regarding marketing yourself at informal sales events


If you’re going to work an event, you’ve got to register as soon as possible. Choose one of your contracted Medicare Advantage carriers to represent and use their registration process (Call us at (800) 997 3107 if you’ve never done this before or need an assist). You only need to register with one carrier even if you are displaying materials from several plans. Captive agents can only offer the products from their company, but independent brokers and agents can offer a broad range of products from multiple companies.

By all means, do not sit down at your table or booth. Instead, have a chair or two for attendees to sit down so you can then start a conversation. Greet seniors as they pass by with a good morning or hello. Always make eye contact, and for goodness’ sake, smile! Seniors can be reluctant to discuss their health, well-being and finances, so it’s up to you to break the ice.

Contacting your carrier broker reps and asking for all the gewgaws and brief plan brochures they can muster is another great way to prepare. Get them from all your carriers and restock the table after a while. Who among us doesn’t love free stuff?

Have an Internet-connected laptop at your table. You can show a senior anything displayed on a carrier’s website or demonstrate’s plan finder features. However, try to avoid researching docs, drugs or copays at the event. Offer to do the research for them and promise them a call back or appointment.
You should use a Permission To Contact Form (PTC) to collect seniors’ call back information in a compliant manner. Most carriers have these available. Try to get a Scope of Appointment if you’re working with Medicare Advantage, but keep in mind the PTC is a lot less intimidating to the average senior. Why most agents don’t use PTC forms is a mystery to me. Let me be very clear, though: Do not do enrollments at informal events. Keep a minimum number of enrollment packets available from the event registering plan (especially for Secret Shoppers, something I’ll cover next time).

Remember, the goal of your attendance at the event is to set as many appointments and call-backs as you can. Provide seniors with enticing factual hors d’oeuvres, not the full meal! Plan a call-back or make a home appointment to look up docs or medications or to report back any research. You’re much more likely to close the appointment with a sale if you can show you’re able to do due diligence for your clients.

For more informal sales event tips, call RB Insurance at (800) 997 3107 or email me. Subscribe to our blog here. RB Insurance-affiliated agents can call us for pointers or assistance with planning sales events.

Four simple ways to power through AHIP 2016

When are you going to start your 2016 AHIP certification?

While the Medicare Annual Enrollment Period, AEP, is still months away, I consider right now to be decision time for the training agents must go through in order to be Ready To Sell. What you do in the next few days and weeks will set the tone for how things will go over the next several months and into 2016 for your senior insurance business.

Want to be ready to preserve your current book of business and write new opportunities?  Then today is the most important date on your calendar.

Start your 2016 AHIP certification now, not later to avoid stress and to concentrate on scoring at least 90 percent. Image courtesy of Wikipedia


Here are four simple ways to keep October 1st from becoming crunch time by deciding to act now:

1. Consider paying for your AHIP 2016 training. For me, nothing says commitment like spending my hard-earned money on something.  Yes, I understand some of you will wait for the carriers to launch their own training for a discount, and that is a great idea (In fact, my wife does this). However, don’t let the one or two weeks’ difference turn into one or two months before you actually begin your 2016 AHIP certification.  As I looked at my upcoming schedule, I saw the early start was worth more than the savings I would get if I had waited for a carrier discount. I looked up my login information from last year, filled in my credit card information and just a click later, I got immediate access to AHIP 2016.

While I have not yet finished, I have done something that makes most people feel almost as good — I started. You may want to pay for your AHIP up front to avoid stressing out about it later.

2. Download the slides and start reading. Did you know you can download the AHIP slides as a PDF? If you have a slow Internet connection, downloading AHIP 2016 content can make studying much faster than accessing it online. Personally, I don’t like reading while sitting at my computer, so I downloaded all five modules and put them on my iPad.  Over the next three days, I’m planning on reviewing the downloaded slides while riding the stationary bike at my gym. When I’m listening to ’80s music and wiping sweat off my brow, AHIP doesn’t seem as tedious!

3. Pace yourself. If you are a seasoned senior insurance advisor, then the material on the 2016 AHIP is more of a refresher.  If you are new to the business and this is your first AEP, then it will feel more like a university course. Break the five different modules into smaller, more manageable pieces to make it go down easier. You will retain more information this way and score higher on the test!

4. Take the test.  My strategy is simple: I take the test four days after I pay for the course. Because I have already gone through the material at the gym, I allocate two hours for one final review of the modules online. At the end of that session, I take the test (By the way, it’s open book!).  Even if you are a 20-year industry veteran like myself, don’t take the test until you have read all the material! With three attempts to score 90 percent, you have none to waste.

Yes, even for me, hitting the “grade now” button is a little unnerving, but then the passing grade comes.  I will print out my certificate with a sense of satisfaction knowing that one major part of the process is complete.  I can’t celebrate too much as there’s still much work to do when it comes to senior insurance sales.

Agents who subscribe to The Agent’s Advantage can save $50 off their 2016 AHIP certification. Click here to learn more about this offer and how to get your entire AHIP cost reimbursed by RB Insurance when you make five Medicare Advantage sales.

Take the fast-track for senior insurance sales success

We’re rolling out our fast-track appointment application just in time for the 2016 senior insurance sales season. So what is it?

It’s simple: Our fast-track application is up to 22 different appointment applications in one. We’ve gone through each of our carrier partners’ appointment processes and combined them as much as possible to substantially reduce the amount of time and toil it takes for you to build a compelling portfolio of senior insurance products.

Why complete up to 300 total pages of paperwork by yourself when you can fill out a fraction of that and let us make it happen for you? Offer your clients a choice between multiple carriers for Medicare Advantage, Medicare Supplement, Hospital Indemnity and Final Expense without getting a migraine.

We estimate our fast-track application saves agents up to six hours of time that could be better spent marketing themselves at educational or sales events or at appointments they’ve scheduled through our Medicare Sales Engine if they were looking to appoint with just our top carriers.

You will still need to go through certification for MA plans in order to be Ready To Sell, but we have worked hard to eliminate the hassles of representing new carriers so you can focus on taking care of your clients.

AHIP 2016 is here. Start planning your successful senior insurance sales season now with RB Insurance by calling (800) 997 3107 or emailing me to learn more about our most competitive carrier products available in your target markets.

Get out there and market yourself! Part One

Wondering about marketing opportunities? Well it’s time to “Get out there and market yourself! (Part One)” Here’s my first post in a series of three about different kinds of events you can be a part of to market your senior insurance business.

I’ve got a buddy who’s been a successful senior insurance advisor here in Arizona for the past 20 years who just refuses to schedule or participate in any type of educational events. He likes to say his wife’s the social worker, not him.

I’ve attempted to change his mind about how valuable this type of marketing is — and it is marketing — but he just can’t see it. I have regaled my agent friend with the example set by a successful Las Vegas agent I know who only does educational event meetings to market himself. This guy works home and office appointments gleaned from those encounters all year long. My Sin City agent friend does at least two events a week and has contacts with just about every professional, fraternal, veteran and charitable organization in the county.

His CMS-regulated business consists of about 50 percent Medicare Advantage and about 50 percent Medicare Supplements with a Part D plan. He loves presenting final expense and add-on hospital indemnity products. Not bad for an agent who’s a senior himself. He never leaves a venue until he has answered every lingering question, and he tells me he goes through more than 500 business cards a month.

Market Yourself

“What?” you say, “you can’t sell or market at an educational event?” You are absolutely correct! The Medicare Marketing Guidelines tell us specific CMS-regulated products cannot be sold or discussed at these events (Here’s a much shorter compliance cheat sheet). While CMS does not require formal registration for these events, they are regularly evaluated by Secret Shoppers.

No marketing activity is allowed at educational events like those my Las Vegas friend puts on. What does that mean? It means you cannot steer to a specific plan, hand out marketing materials, gather Scopes of Appointment or Permission To Call forms.

So how does this agent generate leads and referrals from events?

He or she makes an announcement at the end of his or her formal presentation. Something like this does the trick: “This is an educational event, so I can’t put my business cards on the table, but some of you have asked for one. I will be at the back of the room as you leave, so if you want a card just ask. If you have any other questions just give me a call — I don’t charge for advice!”

That’s all it takes to successfully market yourself at educational events.

For more detailed training on conducting compliant and profitable events, our affiliated agents can call me at 1-800-997-3107 or email me. I don’t charge for advice, either.

Next week, I’ll tell you more about informal sales events, stay tuned!

Want to get more information on how to market yourself? We love helping you out! Give us a call at 1-800-997-3107 or watch this great webinar! Sign up for the “Make Community Marketing Work for You” webinar and go even further!

ICYMI: Our senior sales seminar was a smash!

In case you missed our Power of the Portfolio Approach seminar series we held in our home state of Arizona, I’ll give you a quick rundown. Though it wasn’t without its hiccups, we had a great turnout! The open house at our office last Friday was well attended with a barbecue lunch courtesy of our favorite local restaurant, Can’t Stop Smokin’.

A number of our guests are just getting started in the senior market. After appointing for the first time with our fast-track application, they’re well on their way to selling multiple carrier products to maximize their earning potential. Several agents who have been in the industry for a while said they didn’t realize how easy it can be to pick up an additional carrier or five — yes, I’m serious! — with just one packet.

We had some great discussions about what’s happening in the senior market and ways to keep your clients from being poached by other agents. The No. 1 question, though, was about Lead generation. I don’t know how many times I was asked “How do I get in front of more people compliantly?” in the past two weeks!

RB Insurance is all about partnership. Call us at (800) 997 3107 to learn more about our senior insurance marketing products and services and our unique portfolio approach to sales. Image courtesy of iStock

RB Insurance is ready to share community marketing strategies with the Medicare Compare brand that can get you out meeting more people and making more sales. We’ve found that the more involved an agent is in the community, the more successful he or she is overall. Brandon Clay says it the best: “As you serve, you deserve”.

Something else that was on the top of agents’ minds was how to manage a large book of business without letting valuable Leads fall off the radar. We have a great solution with the Medicare Sales Engine (MSE), either standalone or paired with our Massive Response Mailers, which we print ourselves and send out three weeks earlier than any of our competitors.

I’d like to give special thanks to Susan Hayward from Fox, Hayward and Associates for being my MSE tester. We uploaded her humungous client file. She helped us with our processes to ensure a smooth delivery for the client mailers she purchased as part of her marketing efforts.

We’d like to welcome agents that are new to RB Insurance and Medicare Compare. We’re looking forward to a long and prosperous partnership.

RB Insurance is here to make it happen for you. Call us at (800) 997 3107 or stop by our home office if you have a question. Check out our  calendar  to stay up to date on our trainings and events plus carrier certification events. Get our weekly newsletter by subscribing here.

Medicare Advantage sales success is still possible!

Each AEP I encounter a wave of new agents who want to know if there is still success to be had in the Medicare Advantage industry.  My answer to each of them is an enthusiastic “Yes!”

I understand there have been changes and challenges as the industry has evolved, but  I believe they have actually created an even greater possibility of success for the senior insurance advisor who has the right perspective.

I believe you need three things to be successful: The right opportunity, the right timing and the right people.

We’ve all heard that 10,000 people a day are turning 65. This represents people who will need someone to help them navigate the complex healthcare and insurance options.  They will need a trusted advisor. and that could be you. Take the opportunity!

We’re in a period of corporate consolidation as plans acquire other plans.  There are changes coming to Medicare Supplements that will govern consumer choice.  Marketing guidelines are ever-evolving and agents have to be compliant.  In spite of the changes, the timing is still right.  Beneficiaries are still faced with making choices, and they will have more questions than ever as things continue to change. You can be the one they turn to for advice!

The days of the “lone wolf” producer are numbered.  Partnerships are now more important than ever to be successful in senior sales.  You need the right contracts with the best products.  Not only that, you need the right training and marketing approaches that can help you get in front of prospects and convert them to clients. That puts a premium on the type of marketing organization you get involved with.  Do you currently have the right partners to help you become successful?

The rewards are great for those that will are willing to do what it takes to have success and build their business. Don’t let success pass you by!

Call RB Insurance Group at (800) 997 3107 to learn more about opportunities to sell a portfolio of senior products year-round to earn top commission. Request a copy of our fast-track appointment application to take on Medicare Advantage, Medicare Supplements, Hospital Indemnity and final expense plans in less time.

King v. Burwell Update — Lawmakers await King v. Burwell ruling

King v. Burwell Update — The Affordable Care Act (ACA) was subjected to a third round of scrutiny when the Supreme Court decided to hear King v. Burwell, whose focus is the validity of the federal Health Insurance Marketplace. Lawmakers are anxious whether the court will side with the plaintiffs and invalidate the federal exchange or uphold one of ACA’s primary means of increasing health care access and affordability by siding with the federal government when it delivers its final word by the end of the month.

HHS Secretary Sylvia Burwell says it will be up to governors and Congress to respond if SCOTUS strikes down the federal health care exchange. Image of Congressional assembly during President Obama’s 2015 State of the Union address courtesy of Creative Commons and Flickr user NASA HQ Photo

Speaking at the Catholic Health Association Assembly on Tuesday, President Obama said his signature health care law “is now a part of the fabric of how we care for one another,” according to the New York Times. “It seems so cynical to want to take health care away from millions of people.”

Obama’s remarks were interpreted by many to be directed to the court’s nine justices as they near a ruling that would impact millions of people in the 37 states that use the federal exchange. They were dismissed by Republican leaders, who retorted that the president was “divorced from reality” as they argue ACA has produced more negative effects than positive. The New York Times also notes ACA and health care will be a major issue during the 2016 presidential election.

Governors and Congress will need to be the first responders if the court invalidates the federal exchange, Health and Human Services secretary Sylvia Burwell said Wednesday according to Kaiser Health News. She told the House Ways and Means Committee as the government would not be able to keep the federal exchange online or even available in a different form.

Republicans grilled Burwell over what legislation the GOP-controlled House and Senate could put together that would survive the president’s veto power. According to Kaiser, Burwell said the president will not accept any measure that calls for a repeal to ACA as part of a strategy to mitigate consumer losses if the court rules in favor of the plaintiff. Sen. Ron Johnson, R–Wis., has drafted a bill that would make federal subsidies available until August 2017, but do away with the individual mandate and other parts of ACA that have been contested by its opponents.

Kaiser has reported that Pennsylvania and Delaware are the only states that have already begun to develop alternative means of delivering federal subsidies to eligible individuals in the event the Supreme Court strikes down the federal exchange.

Subscribe to The Agent’s Advantage blog to receive the latest in King v. Burwell Update, HHS and CMS news as well as senior market sales tips.

Seize the Medicare sales season starting now

America’s Health Insurance Plans (AHIP) will release their annual Medicare training modules June 22nd for the 2016 sales season. I’ve been involved with Medicare since 1996, so I’m proud to say this will be my 20th campaign as a successful senior insurance advisor!

AHIP has gone through many changes in the past two decades, but one thing that has never changed is the great opportunity waiting for agents who will take it.

October 15 will be here before we all know it, and while some agents will be ready to maximize its great opportunity, others will not. That’s why you should seize the Medicare sales season starting now.

If you’re a new agent, AHIP and everything else an agent needs to take care of before AEP can be daunting.  However, I can tell you personally that the career satisfaction and earning possibilities through lifetime renewals far outweigh the effort you will expend.

Whether this is your first AEP or your 20th, your most precious asset is time.

How can you make the most of it? Make a plan and take action.

Planning is vital to sales success during AEP and beyond it if you are looking to sell year-round. Multiple to-do’s will be competing for your time and energy, so having an outlined process is critical.

If you’re a seasoned agent working the Medicare Advantage market, then you already know the drill that is the Annual Enrollment Period, the legally designated sales period for Medicare Advantage. You need to complete AHIP certification, complete various carrier trainings and Continuing Education for licensing; read up on new products to stay current and keep revenue flowing in; do member outreach and education to make sure you don’t lose current clients; engage in CMS-compliant marketing strategies to find new clients and continue to add to your portfolio of products to maximize cross-selling activities.


You can adapt my personal outline below to your specific business approach:

  • Begin your AHIP certification the moment it becomes available.  It will help you get through most other carrier certifications faster. with less time involved.
  • Complete carrier’s certifications and live trainings as soon they are made available, too.
  • Prepare your Annual Review Letter for an October mailing to your clients (I’ll be posting more about this soon!)
  • Conduct plan reviews to identify the strongest in your market.
  • Identify your mentor. Who will turn to when questions pop up while you’re in the field?

After you have created your plan you must take action.  Make each step simple so you still have time for all your other daily activities.  For example, you can do one AHIP training module a day and finish the test by the end of the week. Getting an early start leaves enough time for effort without rushing.  It will help you feel organized, which just might keep you from getting frustrated or overwhelmend.

Whatever you decide to do — and how — do not procrastinate.

That simple advice is also the hardest to do, but understand the sales season means nothing if you are not Ready To Sell!

Will you be ready?

This year, save time and ace the AHIP on your first try

AHIP has announced a June 22 release date for the 2016 annual sales training.

Now that most Medicare Advantage and Prescription Drug Plan insurers accept or mandate America’s Health Insurance Plans (AHIP) Medicare training, we would be remiss not to assist our affiliated agents with some tips regarding the navigation of this annual rite of passage. Be advised though — a few carriers have their own internal training available in lieu of the AHIP courses.

Many agents who have successfully completed AHIP for several years probably are spending more time than necessary to complete the courses and prepare for the test. New agents often invest days in study and rote memorization efforts. Hopefully, we can ease any trepidation with a few simple tips and reminders as we head into the sales season.

Beside remembering that learning and accountability are why we take the AHIP, keep the following in mind:

  • AHIP is an open-book test. Remember that term from school? It means you can print the entire course slideshow or even order a booklet. Call us at the number below to learn a better way to keep information in front of you while you take the test.
  • Pace yourself. The comprehensive test phase of AHIP takes two hours, and you have three attempts to pass with a minimum score of 90 percent. Eliminate all distractions while you’re taking the test — leave your phone in another room, close out of other programs or websites on your computer, etc.
  • If you don’t pass AHIP within your three allotted attempts, you’re done for the next six months. Some carriers do have alternative training available, so check with their broker support. Do not re-register for the course and pay another $125 or $175. You can re-register, repay and go through the course to take the test again, but Medicare Advantage carriers will not recognize the pass grade for the fourth or subsequent attempts. Last year we assisted three agents who made this rather expensive mistake.
  • You’re not finished after you pass the test. You still must complete the Fraud, Waste and Abuse (FWA) module and test before you are totally done. You’ll know you’re done when you receive a certificate.

RB Insurance-affiliated agents can call us at (800) 997 3107 or email Tom O’Neil, our Senior Broker Trainer, to discover simple strategies to pass the AHIP with a 90 percent or better score. He’s scored 100 percent three years in a row — we’re ready to make the same happen for you this sales season!