ICYMI: Our 2016 Aetna Medicare Advantage benefits preview was a day at the beach

For all of you who missed our 2016 Aetna Medicare Advantage benefits preview meeting last week, you sure passed up a great opportunity to learn about how competitive Aetna will be for this year’s Annual Enrollment Period (We also gave away a free Android touch tablet loaded with carrier enrollment tools to one of the lucky agents who registered for our event!). Don’t sweat it too much — here’s a quick rundown of what we covered.

Also, if you live in the Phoenix metro area and are interested in joining us as a presenter, read on to learn more about upcoming opportunities at our next Aetna events!

At the top of everyone’s mind was Aetna’s recent takeover of competitor Humana in a $37 billion acquisition yet to be cleared by the Justice Department. The short answer to what’s going to happen next is simply “nothing for now” — the carriers won’t be completely reorganized until next year, so all of the 2016 plans that have been filed will remain the same. The earliest anything could happen to Aetna Medicare Advantage benefits is January 2017, and even that is pushing it considering benefits are filed every year by June 1.

We all know Aetna is a well recognized brand and, for agents who work in our home state of Arizona, it has partnered with Banner Health Network to come up with a great plan with great co-pays. We have a special link for licensed agents to preview the benefits, though you do have to attest that you are a licensed agent and will not share them with beneficiaries.

Click here to preview the 2016 Aetna Medicare Advantage benefits

Marketing Director Justin Bever talked about RB Insurance’s discounted AHIP program and how agents can get a 100 percent reimbursement for their 2016 AHIP certification if they use our link.

Justin also shared how our own Senior Broker Trainer Tom O’Neil got a perfect score on his AHIP test (not the first time that’s happened) and how we can help agents struggling to get through the test. Many agents don’t realize the AHIP is an open book exam and don’t know how to best go through their study material to help them ace the AHIP on their first try.

It was like a day at the beach for senior insurance agents who got a first look at a great set of plan benefits!

Click here to get your $50 AHIP discount and learn more about RB Insurance’s exclusive AHIP reimbursement opportunity

RB Insurance and Medicare Compare will be hosting sales events for Aetna agents across the Valley this year, and we need qualified presenters to run these meetings. We have 30 scheduled so far in the east Valley, but are still looking for locations in the west Valley side as well as agents to run them. These events are being advertised by Aetna via print and other media, so we expect a huge turnout!

Call us at (800) 997 3107 or email me to learn more and sign up.

Aetna is not requiring a face-to-face certification this year for their Medicare Advantage products as they have in years past, but if you’re interested in being a part of the RB Insurance/Medicare Compare team as a presenter, you will need to attend a two-hour class on running a public sales meeting. CMS Secret Shoppers will be out in force this year, so the fairly brief training is required —no one wants to deal with allegations that the benefits were not completely explained.

Delayed retirement trends don’t have to mean less commission for senior insurance agents

When did your parents retire? Did they move to a warm climate and cozy house in a Sun City type of community? Our folks had a much rosier view of their future than today’s 50- and 60-somethings.

Though I’d like to think we’re just much more industrious than our forebears, it looks like more of us are going to be working into the latter part of our sixth or even seventh decades. This year Northwestern Mutual Life’s annual Planning and Progress Study addressed the woeful number of U.S. adults who have neither planned for the future nor consulted a professional for retirement advice. Its findings were pretty bleak at times.

According to the survey, less than half of our citizens have set any financial goals, nor do they feel that a comfortable few decades of leisure are on the horizon. 62 percent of the working Americans surveyed said they are “expecting to delay retirement by necessity, citing insufficient savings as a top reason.”

Senior insurance agents need not worry about delayed retirement trends. There’s still opportunity to sell Medicare Advantage, Medicare Supplements and other ancillary health products to seniors still earning a paycheck. Image courtesy of iStock

There is an upshot for senior insurance agents in the delayed retirement trend. Some of our affiliated agents have told me they’re finding a new niche by visiting small businesses and offering their expertise to 65-and-older employees who might want to avail themselves of Medicare Advantage, Medigap Supplements and even hospital indemnity and dental discount plans. Even final expense protection can be attractive to a senior who’s still drawing a paycheck — just remember that age 66 is the magic number for claiming full, “unpenalized” Social Security benefits this year. With that additional income seniors are more accepting of a Part B premium for better medical coverage.

LifeHealth Pro puts a more positive spin on the study, emphasizing that a majority or close enough to a majority of future retirees reported they will continue working because they enjoy their career, want some more disposable income or because they see employment as a way to maintain their social life and stay occupied.

What does this mean for the agent who specializes in senior insurance products? Many companies, especially those with less than 50 employees, are forgoing any type of sponsored medical or life insurance. The coverage that might, in some cases, be offered by the boss may be more expensive or less appealing than traditional Medicare-related plans (A precautionary note: Business owners offering a group plan are prohibited from pressuring older employees to leave group coverage).

You should see the opportunity here. Agents who make a few extra visits to the “less than 50 employee” shops around them can yield some impressive commissions.

Agents affiliated with RB Insurance Group can call (800) 997 3107 or email me to learn more about delayed retirement trends and how this may change health insurance. Not with RBI yet? Just ask about our quick contracting and how to build a portfolio of senior products. If you liked my post, why not subscribe to our blog to get a few more in your Inbox? Just click the link.

Acquisitions and reforms: Learn to adapt to changes in Medicare Advantage

Over the past few weeks I’ve received hundreds of emails from senior insurance advisors all over the country with questions about recent sea changes in Medicare. A quick review: Yes, in a few years first-dollar payment Medicare Supplements (like the popular Plan F) will no longer be available to consumers. Continuing a long-term trend, some of the biggest carriers in the industry have been acquired by other carriers. Some agents have also gotten much smaller renewal checks due to unexpected charge-backs dating all the way back to 2008.

Have you been wondering about any of these changes?

People might have hardly noticed if just one of these things happened, but in the dynamic environment we’re working in today this rapid succession of events can makes some agents uneasy, even make them question whether this is still the right industry for them.  I understand that change brings uncertainty, but I also remember an old saying my father used all the time:

“The more things change, the more they stay the same.”

I’ve been in this industry since 1996, and I can tell you that quote holds true.  I’ve seen great waves of change, but I’ve also noticed that opportunity has continued to grow. That’s why, as with all change that’s beyond our control, we must do two fundamental things:

1. Understand the changes

As agents in an industry that blends the private and governmental sectors, we have to stay abreast of ongoing developments.  Most of these changes are a result of people (of vastly differing opinions, mind you!) working to keep the system operational and fiscally sound for the next decade. Based on the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2008 National Population Projection, 75 million people in this country will be over the age of  65 by 2030.  The actions being taken by private- and public-sector leaders are an attempt to to stay ahead of that growth.

I’m often asked, “Is Medicare going away?” My answer is “Hardly!” Companies buying other companies for billions of dollars reflects a bullish view of Medicare’s future. Who would pay such large amounts for something that will go away?

Yes, products will change.  As history has demonstrated, new products will take the place of ones that are being eliminated.  Consumer demand and corporate profit opportunity will necessitate innovation.  Just look at the growth of Hospital Indemnity products when Medicare Advantage companies increased inpatient copays.  That change made an opportunity for beneficiaries to purchase more comprehensive coverage and allowed agents serving them to earn additional commission.

The future will be no different with Medicare Supplements. After all, “The more things change …”

2. Adapt to these changes

After the initial shock wears off, we all have to evolve our business to maximize the new opportunity that has been created.  There are webinars, seminars and programs you can tap into that will help you make money in the changing environment.  This is not a time to engage in negative water cooler discussions with agents who have already made up their minds.  Partner with organizations that can help you make the most of these changes and be willing to roll with the punches!

That’s why every email I wrote this past week boiled down to these two simple words: Understand and adapt.



E&O: What independent Medicare agents need to know

Chris Hidalgo of Gallagher MGA, one of our industry partners, contributed some timely information about errors and omissions insurance, affectionately shortened to E&O, for our blog this week. The majority of the producers we work with concentrate on Medicare, life and related health products, so let’s take a look at professional protection and facts related to these folks to round out Chris’ helpful post.

The $1 million/$1 m Standard Requirement

There were some premature announcements from a few Medicare Advantage carriers earlier this year that indicated mandatory coverage for 2016 would be increasing to $1 million/$3 million. Most plans have walked this back for sole-proprietor agents. However, some agencies and higher level organizations will be required to meet the higher coverage limits, so check with your carriers before the end of 2015.

My preliminary research indicates that the $1M/$1M E&O limits are being accepted by most major health plan carriers for 2016 for independent Medicare agents.

Don’t Over-Insure

What policy types do you need coverage for? I worked last year with one of our affiliated agents who was newly licensed for several product types, including property and casualty. He decided not to venture into the P&C business and to concentrate his efforts in life, health and Medicare coverage, but he unnecessarily purchased E&O coverage that included his licensure for the P&C exposure. This significantly increased his E & O policy premium. Licensure in an area you’ve never dabbled in or wrote any business for does not need protection — it can always be added later if you explore new arenas of the insurance business.

What Coverage Do I Need?
The most basic E&O plan for most of us will cover policies written for life, LTC, accident, health, Medicare Advantage, Medicare Supplemental and Disability Income Insurance. If you have exposure to plans written in past years that are not included in those mentioned above, it would be wise to continue your coverage for those plan types. For example, P&C policies you might have written several years ago could still be subject to an E&O claim, therefore I suggest you keep your protection up to date even if you have exited the Property and Casualty area.

This is where my editor makes me insert a shameless plug for RB Insurance’s special E&O discount offered through Gallagher MGA. Click on the link for quotes and immediate coverage. Feel free to call us at (800) 997 3107 or email me if you have any further questions about E&O — it can be pretty complex. Don’t hesitate to subscribe to our blog for more content written from the agent’s perspective!

10 ways to prevent an E&O claim from happening

Guest contributor Chris Hidalgo from Gallagher MGA writes about how important documenting every interaction with your client is for managing error and omission risk. Find a link at the end of the post for a special discount offer available only through RB Insurance.

As a life and health agent, it’s important to know your customer and know the process behind how you plan to enroll your customer. Is it a worksite enrollment, a visit to a home? Is your customer a direct mail or a call center lead? Each potential enrollment situation has its own set of criteria and potential E & O exposures.

Here are 10 tips for keeping you — and your business — safe from a claim.

  1.  Always document the outcomes of key client conversations, decisions made and coverages declined. No client interaction is irrelevant. Document every call or conversation, no matter how inconsequential the subject matter.
  2. Understand your customer, anticipate questions, have literature available and be patient.
  3.  Stay current on regulatory requirements by continuing to earn appropriate designations and attending professional development courses.
  4. Practice full disclosure and be totally up front about your track record, business practices, and affiliated advisors and companies.
  5. Assess your client’s risk tolerance. Take the time to fully understand his or her situation. Uncover and document all relevant acts.
  6. Send a written confirmation with a copy of the insured’s application. Be sure your customer knows what they purchased.
  7. Make sure clients understand what their product covers and doesn’t cover as well as all moving parts, fees and expenses and any underlying risk and guarantees. Include product brochures if possible.
  8. Don’t generalize what the product offers. Avoid using common statements like “This policy is just as good as the old one.
  9. Discuss payment terms: monthly, quarterly, annual, etc. Make sure your customer knows when to expect the payment to be processed.
  10. If a client is unhappy with you, do your best to promptly resolve their complaint before it turns into a regulator sanction or lawsuit.

Chris Hidalgo is currently the Mass Communication Specialist for Gallagher MGA, an international insurance brokerage company with an office in Lakewood Ranch, Fla. Chris has been writing articles for Gallagher MGA informing agents about the latest news in the insurance industry since 2012.  He has a bachelor’s degree in mass communications from the University of South Florida, where he interned at Bluewater Media, LLC, and served as writer, producer, videographer and teleprompter operator for Florida Focus, a newscast that aired daily throughout the Tampa Bay area on WUSF-TV. 

Click here to take advantage of MGA and RB Insurance’s exclusive E & O discount.

Multiply your revenue just by organizing your Medicare book of business

Last week I encouraged you to build and organize your Medicare book of business. This week I want to show you how a well-organized book of business is the best way to maximize your return on that investment of time and energy.

Let’s be honest — gathering up all of your clients’ information and entering it into an Excel spreadsheet or CRM is tedious and time consuming.  For the DIY crowd, I suggest breaking your Medicare book of business down into small pieces by entering 10 clients a day until you’ve included everyone. For agents with an expansive clientele, think about paying a college student or your industrious child a fair hourly rate to do the data entry.

No matter how you do it, your Medicare book of business needs to be organized in order to have the most value to your senior insurance business. The investment of of time, energy and even money you make to get it that way will be returned many times over.

Let me prove it to you:

Did you know that Medicare Advantage carriers can pay you up to a $100 referral fee if you allow them to market to your clients? You don’t have to certify or actually sell the product — just compliantly give them access to your Medicare book of business, and they will do the rest. If you have 300 clients and they sell 100, that’s $10,000 for you.  Not bad for no more than a day’s worth of work, right?

What if you leveraged your own Medicare book of business and your “Existing Business Relationship” — defined as such by CMS because you have sold them a legitimate product like final expense or life insurance?  If you did compliant outreach to these clients and sold the same 100, your first-year commission could be $30,000 (a combination of initial payments and like-plan changes).  That’s three times what you would get for the referral fee!

Want to make it even better?  Those 100 people would now be worth about $20,000 a year via annual servicing renewals.  Most carriers now pay lifetime renewals, but over the first six-year cycle, your clients would now be worth an additional $120,000 for a total of $150,000 in seven years!

Yes, you still have to complete AHIP (RB Insurance is offering an incredible discount program) if you decide to add Medicare Advantage to your portfolio of products. And yes, you have to complete carrier certifications and learn which products best fit your clients’ needs. That’s all part of running a successful business. It takes time and energy, but you already have the most important element: Clients!

Leverage the hard work you’ve put into securing your clients.  Organize your book of business and look for ways to maximize your revenue.

Call RB Insurance at (800) 997 3107 to learn more about quick contracting opportunities for Medicare Advantage, Medicare Supplements, Hospital Indemnity and Final Expense. For a limited time, agents can receive 100 percent reimbursement on their 2016 AHIP certification when they make five sales with any Medicare Advantage product this AEP. Learn more here.



Build, don’t buy your Medicare Book of Business

The No. 1 request I would hear from agents during my many years working for senior health insurance carriers, especially as AEP crept closer around the corner, was “Can I get a list of the clients I’ve sold to?”

Sure, it seems like a reasonable request, but it always astonished me why agents didn’t already have this information at their fingertips. When I think of how easy it is to keep up with clients versus how hard it is to get their contact information from a carrier, I see that it should be a top priority for agent s to manage their Medicare book of business. Read more