Insurance companies that sell health insurance are gearing up for the Open Enrollment Period, which runs from November 1 to December 15 for plans that go into effect January 1, 2020. However, if you’re selling Medicare supplements, you’re not restricted to this short period of time. Many people buy Medicare Advantage and Medicare supplements when they turn 65, not just during open enrollment. Not only is there freedom in being a Medicare agent, but keep in mind that 4 million people will be eligible for Medicare over the next 10 years!
From October 15 - December 7, anyone with Medicare Parts A & B can switch to Medicare Part C (Medicare Advantage); anyone with Medicare Part C can switch back to Medicare A & B; anyone who with Medicare Parts A or B can join, drop or switch a Part D prescription drug plan; and anyone with Medicare Part C can switch to a new Part C plan. Open Enrollment (October 15 - December 7) applies to seniors who have Medicare and want to switch to private Medicare (Medicare Advantage) or if they want to buy Medigap to help pay towards copays and prescription drugs.
The annual Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment period (MA OEP) is from January 1 to March 31 and coverage begins in July.
Stay especially alert during these periods because existing clients (and hopefully new ones) will want to change their plans from November through mid-December. Some will have been disappointed by their former agent who may have gotten them stuck in a plan that didn’t work for them. Here’s where you come in.
Whether you’re selling Medicare Advantage in place of Medicare or if you’re selling Medicare supplement insurance to Medicare recipients, this season is going to be a really exciting and prosperous time if you plan accordingly.
If you’re a relatively new agent, who is new to the business, or a seasoned agent, who’s had hiccups along the way, we hope our tips will help you refine your selling strategy and see lots of success at the end of the year.
Medicare Sales Certification and Recertification
If you’re thinking about selling health insurance and only sell home and auto, the process of getting licensed as a Medicare agent is not difficult and can be the path to a lucrative career. As an agent selling Medicare Advantage and Medicare supplements you need to certify with the carriers you represent each year if you want to continue selling Medicare products like Medicare Advantage plans, prescription drug plans and Medicare Supplements. You may be required to complete AHIP training and/or their own specialized training so be in touch with your carrier(s) well ahead of time.
What Is America’s Health Insurance Plans (AHIP) Training?
AHIP is a national trade association that represents nearly 1,300 companies that offer health insurance to over 200 million Americans. AHIP certification information can be found on the AHIP website. The certification covers two broad topics: Medicare and Fraud as well as Waste and Abuse.
The AHIP training covers eligibility basics and benefits and provides information about the different types of Medicare Advantage and Part D prescription drug plans. They’ll also teach you about subjects like compliance with marketing guidelines and enrollment procedures. You’ll also learn how to detect and report fraud.
Most of the carriers you work with will require AHIP certification as well as training and certifications for their particular products too. Courses are often offered through a broker portal. For more about product-specific training, visit here. Most carriers do not require annual recertification for selling medicare supplement insurance
Marketing to Seniors: How Can I Sell More Medicare Policies?
The good news is that e-applications are available to Medicare shoppers so you can sell Medicare supplements over the phone! The leads from SmartFinancial came into your queue because interested seniors filled out an online form and are likely to apply online and buy over the phone. These are the perfect leads!
Of course, take into consideration that many people buying Medicare supplements fall in an age range where many will prefer not to do business over the phone or use the Internet to fill out an application. Marketing to seniors may mean more face-to-face sales than you’re used to working.
Know the Senior Insurance Market
If you’re not familiar with the senior market, it’s a good idea to learn about seniors’ needs before you begin haphazardly selling insurance products. This is the most seasoned demographic you’ll ever sell insurance to, so using gimmicks will likely not pan out as easily as it would with a young person.
Medigap plans only make sense if you first get an idea of the kinds of care seniors require and the costs involved. Otherwise, you won’t know what Medicare doesn’t cover, and if the prospect senses you don’t understand their predicament, they won’t buy insurance from you. There are ancillary insurance products, which your prospect may or may not need. Do not try to sell your client something just because it exists and you’re thirsty for a sale. You need to know your client and not make assumptions about their budget.
For instance, if you know a client is under continuous care and qualifies for Original Medicare, you may or may not want to sell them the indemnity insurance, a fee-for-service plan which would be very expensive and hassle as a primary plan. However, this kind of insurance is excellent as a complementary plan with Medicare, if your client can afford it or if they have lots of out-of-pocket costs not covered by Original Medicare (crunch some numbers with them).
With indemnity insurance, the client has to pay upfront and submit a claim for each service in order to be reimbursed. Unless your client feels overwhelmed by the costs that Medicare doesn’t cover or if they want (and can afford) the greatest level of freedom in choosing doctors, this is probably not a great choice as a standalone insurance plan for them. Many seniors simply won’t be able to afford it. In fact, your client may be very irritated once their policy begins if they didn’t fully understand the way indemnity insurance works beforehand. However, if your client is well off, they won’t feel burdened by an additional premium for a Medicare Supplement plan or even an indemnity plan as a standalone. Private insurance allows seniors to see the best specialists whenever they wish to do so without paying the entire bill. For some people, this is what matters more than pricing.
Make commissions based on a customized Medicare sales strategy for each and every client based on their budget and their wishes. Make sure you understand how each plan works in the real world and according to each client’s target numbers.
Creating genuine relationships when marketing to seniors is crucial, and it’ll take time and effort on your part to sell more Medicare policies.
Medicare Advantage Sales Leads: Do I Need to Buy Them?
Medicare Advantage sales leads are a perfect way to find seniors looking to buy insurance. Some leads from SmartFinancial have a built-in Medicare Advantage sales strategy and others have a built in Medigap insurance strategy. When you buy leads from SmartFinancial, all the information you need to make some quick assessments about your clients is there. It’s all based on the questions they answered in the form they filled out online, right before they either end up on the phone as a live-transfer call or their info arrives in your email inbox.
All you’re responsible to do next is to go over the Medicare Advantage sales script you’ve been practicing. Marketing to seniors doesn’t have to be intimidating. It’s probably the most genuine type of sales you’ll ever make so strive to get the best Medicare Advantage sales training if any of the carriers you work with offer that. Otherwise, research as much as you can so you know all the intricacies of these types of plans. The same goes for Original Medicare: know it so you know why and how you’re going to sell Medigap insurance.
For a quick primer on the differences between Medicare Advantage and Medicare Supplements visit here. To get acquainted with retirement life and the expenses involved in senior health care, visit here.
Medicare Advantage Sales Scripts
Keep in mind that you don’t want to ramble on and get the entire script in, in one shot. Wait and allow the prospect to speak between each section. Pay close attention to what they are saying, and proceed as is appropriate:
Hi, I’m [name] from [agency name]. I wanted to give you a call because you filled out a form with SmartFinancial about [Medicare Advantage or Medicare supplements].
You should have received a letter from the Social Security Administration about your Medicare benefits. I have some of your information here. Can we go over a few things so I can give you a quote for [Medicare Advantage or Medicare supplements].
I’d like to help you understand how Medicare will cover your medical and dental expenses and to figure out how to lower costs for services Medicare doesn’t cover. Do you have any particular doctors you’d like to stick with? Do you know if [he/she] is a Medicare provider?
If you are met with a “no” or “I’m not interested” note that they expressed interest by filling out a form. Come back with:
Just give me three minutes to go over what Medicare will and will not cover. I’ll then show you how much you’d pay out of pocket with and without a Medicare supplement insurance plan. You are under no obligation to buy anything at all.
Which Are the Best States to Sell Medicare In?
All 50 states are ripe for Medicare supplement sales and Medicare Advantage sales but the best states to sell in are Florida, Arizona, Illinois, Texas, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, California, North Carolina, New York, Michigan and Virginia! There are high concentrations of individuals who hold Medicare supplement policies, and they may be electing to change their coverage during Open Enrollment 2020!