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Why You Should Be Selling Dental Insurance

Posted by www.psmbrokerage.com Admin on Wed, Mar 21, 2018 @ 12:51 PM

Why You Should Be Selling Dental Insurance.pngMedicare Still Doesn't Cover Dental Care. And That Can Be a Big Problem.

This is a good read on the lack of dental coverage provided by Medicare and the important role of a insurance agent to help keep beneficiaries covered. PSM offers an array of dental plans available to our agents along with the guidance on how to best incorporate into your business.

From the article...

Many people view Medicare as the gold standard of United States health coverage, and any attempt to cut it incurs the wrath of older Americans, a politically powerful group. But there are substantial coverage gaps in traditional Medicare. One of them is care for your teeth.

Almost one in five adults of Medicare eligibility age (65 years old and older) have untreated cavities. The same proportion have lost all their teeth. Half of Medicare beneficiaries have some periodontal disease, or infection of structures around teeth, including the gums. Bacteria from such infections can circulate elsewhere in the body, contributing to other health problems such as heart disease and strokes.

And yet traditional Medicare does not cover routine dental care, like checkups, cleanings, fillings, dentures and tooth extraction.

Paying for dental care out of pocket is hard for many Medicare beneficiaries. Half have annual incomes below $23,000 per year. Those who have the means, but are looking for a deal, might travel abroad for cheaper dental care. Tens of thousands of Americans go to Mexico every year for dental work at lower prices. Many others travel the globe for care.

Although low-income Medicare beneficiaries can also qualify for Medicaid, that’s of little help for those living in states with gaps in Medicaid dental coverage.

According to a study published in Health Affairs, in a given year, three-quarters of low-income Medicare beneficiaries do not receive any dental care at all. Among higher-income beneficiaries, the figure is about one-quarter.

Traditional Medicare will cover dental procedures that are integral to other covered services. So if your Medicare-covered hospital procedure involved dental structures in some way, important related dental care would be covered. But paying for any other care is up to the patient.

Lack of dental coverage by Medicare is among the top concerns of beneficiaries. The program also lacks coverage for hearing, vision or long-term care services. However, many Medicare Advantage plans — private alternatives to the traditional program — cover these services.

For example, 58 percent of Medicare Advantage enrollees have coverage for dental exams. In receiving these benefits through private plans, enrollees are also subject to plans’ efforts to limit use by, for example, requiring prior authorization or offering narrow networks of providers. These restrictions can be problematic for some beneficiaries, and about two-thirds of Medicare beneficiaries opt for the traditional program, not a private plan.

Adding a dental benefit to Medicare is popular. A Families USA survey of likely voters found that the vast majority (86 percent) of likely voters support doing so. The survey also found that when people do not see a dentist, the top reason is cost.

Ms. Willink’s study estimated that a Medicare dental benefit that covered three-quarters of the cost of care would increase Medicare premiums by $7 per month, or about 5 percent. The rest would need to be financed by taxes.

The cost of such a benefit might be offset — or partly offset — by reductions in other health care spending, reflecting the fact that poor oral health contributes to other health problems.

Making a case for this in the political arena would not be easy, though. The initial cost would be an inviting target for politicians who express concern about fiscal prudence, regardless of any potential long-term gain. But expanding Medicare has been done before.

In 2006, a prescription drug benefit was added to the program. The law for that program was enacted in 2003, and in that same year, the surgeon general released a report calling for dental care to be treated and covered like other health care. Whether by Medicaid or Medicare, that wish is still unfulfilled.

As you can see, more than ever it is important to carry a strong dental product in your portfolio. We would love to assist with any questions you have and make sure you offer this comprehensive coverage to your clients

Source: https://www.nytimes.com/2018/03/19/upshot/medicare-missing-dental-coverage.html

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Tags: dental hearing and vision insurance, Medicare Sales, Sales Strategies

Baby Boomers Embrace Technology

Posted by www.psmbrokerage.com Admin on Tue, Mar 13, 2018 @ 03:51 PM

Baby Boomers Embrace TechnologyGetting Connected: Older Americans Embrace Technology to Enhance Their Lives

Most Americans have embraced technology in their daily lives and those over 50 are no exception.  Results of a new survey by AARP show older adults are using a variety of devices to stay informed, shop and connect with others.

Over 90% of adults over 50 own a computer or laptop, 70% have a smartphone, and over 40% own a tablet, according to a national study of 1,520 adults conducted in November.  Adults 70+ are more likely to have more dated technology, such as desktops and feature phones, than those age 50-69.

Want to know what the grandkids are doing? Check on Facebook. Sure enough, across all devices, over seven in ten adults 50+ are on social media, and nine in ten (91%) of those with devices say they use technology to stay in touch with friends and family.

Different devices for different purposes

Smartphones help people be social while they are on the go. Over half of smartphone owners use a social app weekly. Texting (86%) has caught up to email (87%) as the top ways people use technology to communicate with others.

Among adults 50+, nine in ten say they use their smartphone to send instant messages, texts or emails, and over three quarters find them handy for getting directions or traffic information.  They also use them for purchasing apps, surfing the internet, getting news, and accessing social media, the AARP research found.

Just how adults use technology varies by age. Adults 50-59 are more likely to do banking activities and watch video on their smartphones than those who are over 60. However, smartphone users age 60-69 are leading the way in using their phone to manage medical care (they are significantly more likely to do so than those over 70: 33% vs. 21%).

Respondents report using tablets more for entertainment and computers for practical tasks. Adults in their 50s and 60s use their computers to engage in online learning activities and posting ratings and reviews more frequently than those older.  Further, Americans over 70 do fewer activities on their computers than those under 70, with a couple exceptions, including gaming (over half play games on their computer) and email.

When it comes to wearable technology (smartwatches, fitness trackers, etc.) and home assistants, just a small percentage of the 50+ market are on board.  Younger adults are more likely to own a wearable than those over 70.

Wary of security and virtual reality

In spite of the reliance on technology in many realms of life, just 18% of adults 50+ are extremely or very confident in their online privacy. Four in ten (41%) are not very or not at all confident in their privacy. Those over 70 are more skeptical their information is private online than those aged 60-69, the survey finds.

Most older adults do not completely trust companies to keep their data secure. The survey discovered respondents have more confidence in banks and health care organizations and less trust toward the media, social media sites, and membership organizations.

Despite security concerns, however, the survey found many older adults don’t take proactive steps to protect themselves (although men are more likely to do so in several instances). Overall, just 58% of respondents say they use a passcode to lock their tablets and 59% use one on their smartphones.  And changing passwords every few months? Just 45 percent of adults 50 and over take that security precaution.

Few older adults have used virtual reality, and many are unfamiliar with augmented reality. Most respondents had heard of virtual reality devices but few have tried them. Adults age 50-59 are the most likely to have checked out or own a virtual reality device, but adoption is still small. Over six in ten adults in the survey have never heard of augmented reality and very few have tried it -- although awareness was greater among those in their 50s.

This study was fielded from November 16-27, 2017 using GfK’s KnowledgePanel, a probability based web panel designed to be representative of the adult US population. Respondents needed to be age 50 or older to complete the survey. Completion rate was 59.9% and resulted in a total sample of 1,520. The data are weighted by age within gender, education, race/ethnicity, household income, language preferences, and Census division to reflect US adults age 50 or older. For more information contact G. Oscar Anderson at GAnderson@aarp.org.

At PSM, we provide the tools, knowledge and support to help take your business to new levels. If you have an interest on how to effectively sell online, we would love to assist you. 

Source: https://www.aarp.org/research/topics/technology/info-2018/technology-use-attitudes.html

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Tags: Web Marketing Advice, Baby Boomer Medicare Stats, Insurance Marketing, Social Media Marketing, Digital Marketing

Have a Website? The Definitive Digital Marketing Handbook for Medicare Agents

Posted by www.psmbrokerage.com Admin on Mon, Mar 05, 2018 @ 12:08 PM

The Definitive Digital Marketing Handbook for Medicare AgentsThe Definitive Digital Marketing Handbook for Medicare Agents

If you sell Medicare products and you have a website, this is an insightful on how to effectively market your business.

We live in a digital world. The signs of people’s ever-increasing passion for digital communications are all around us. 

Digital has become woven into everyday life, yet, most Medicare Agencies don't have a sound digital marketing strategy. KERN Health’s informal polls at the Medicare Marketing & Sales Summits in Orlando and Nashville suggest that most (65%) of Medicare Agencies felt that their organizations were struggling and were unprepared to develop a digital marketing strategy.

According to Pew Research Center, 76% of older (leading-edge) Boomers (ages 60–69) use the Internet daily. Even the Silent generation (ages 70–87) now has an adoption rate of 61% who use the Internet. And when we look at the younger (trailing-edge) Boomers (ages 51–59), we see the handwriting on the wall for the future of Medicare marketing—with only 17% of this group not using the Internet daily. Furthermore, 84.9% of Boomers and Medicare beneficiaries are sharing information, talking about politics and engaging on Facebook.

Download the Guide


So think digitally
. Because your competitors already are. Up until now, some brave Medicare Agencies have dared to peel a portion of the budget away from the traditional workhorse channel of direct mail to experiment with digital, but they’ve done so in very limited ways. When you understand just how much Boomers and Medicare beneficiaries are utilizing digital channels, you’ll see why there’s the urgent need to do more.

  • 1 in 5 of Twitter users are over 50
  • 53% (percentage of Americans 65+ who use the Internet, and 70% of those use the Internet daily)
  • 27 hours per week (average amount of time Boomers spend on the Internet)
  • 48% (percentage of adults 65+ who own a desktop computer)
  • 63% (percentage of adults 50–64 who own a desktop computer)
  • 27.4 million (number of adults 55+ who engage in social networking to communicate)
  • 1 in 3 of online Boomers use social media
  • 59% (percentage of online Boomers who have made an online purchase within the last 3 months)
  • 80% (adults 50+ account for 80% of all online luxury travel spending)
  • $7 billion (average annual amount spent online by adults 50+)

And when we’re speaking about digital, more than half of what we’re speaking about is mobile. According to a 2016 Pew Research Center report, mobile now accounts for more than half of all digital advertising spending, while digital ad spending grew from $43 billion in 2013 to over $60 billion just two short years later.

Hopefully this guide will provide insight and best practices on how to make sure your website and marketing efforts are optimized in the new digital age of the senior market.

Download the Guide

Source: https://www.slideshare.net/scottbrianlevine/the-definitive-digital-marketing-handbook-for-medicare-marketers

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Tags: Web Marketing Advice, Baby Boomer Medicare Stats, Insurance Marketing, Social Media Marketing, Digital Marketing

Medicare Costs to Rise for Wealthy

Posted by www.psmbrokerage.com Admin on Tue, Feb 27, 2018 @ 01:52 PM

Medicare Costs to Rise for WealthyMedicare Costs to Rise for Wealthy

New tier of beneficiaries to pay 85% of parts B and D benefits

A new tier of high-income Medicare recipients next year will have to pay a greater percentage of their medical costs, the latest move to shift more of the federal program’s tab onto the wealthiest beneficiaries.

Starting in 2019, individuals with incomes of $500,000 or more and couples earning $750,000 or more will be broken out of the current top bracket and required to pay 85% of the cost of their Medicare parts B and D benefits, up from 80% now. (In contrast, Medicare beneficiaries with incomes of $85,000 or less—or $170,000 or less for couples—pay only 25% of the cost of their benefits.)

For higher-income beneficiaries, this increased premium surcharge comes on the heels of a separate increase that went into effect on Jan. 1. Under that increase, Medicare beneficiaries with incomes of $133,501 to $160,000 (or $267,001 to $320,000 for couples) now must pay 65% of the cost of their parts B and D benefits, up from 50% before Jan 1. And beneficiaries with incomes between $160,001 and $214,000 (or $320,001 and $428,000 for couples) were shifted from a 65% surcharge into the highest income group that currently pays 80% of the cost of their benefits.

Taken together the moves—the latest of which was included within a two-year budget deal signed earlier this month—accentuate a trend to require those with the highest incomes to bear a greater share of Medicare costs, said Juliette Cubanski, an associate director of the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation’s program on Medicare policy.

Because the income thresholds at which higher premiums surcharges kick in haven’t been adjusted for inflation since 2011, they are also catching more people, Ms. Cubanski said.

In 2015, Kaiser estimated that 5.7% of Medicare recipients paid more than the standard premium amount for Part B, which pays for doctor visits and other types of outpatient care - a number the nonprofit group said would reach 8.3% by 2019. While Kaiser hasn’t updated those projections, Ms. Cubanski said she believes they are still accurate.

Starting in 2020, the income thresholds are slated to be adjusted for inflation.

If the new 85% cost-sharing requirement were in effect this year, those who qualify would pay $321 on top of the standard Part B premium, which is currently $134 per person, according to Michael Kitces, director of wealth management at Pinnacle Advisory Group Inc. in Columbia, Md. In contrast, the extra cost for those paying 80% of the share of the costs today is currently $294.60, on top of the standard Part B premium of $134. The numbers for next year are likely to be slightly higher due to factors including an inflation adjustment, Mr. Kitces said.

Under Medicare Part D, which covers prescription-drug plans, premium surcharges currently range from $13 to $74.80 a month and are imposed on top of each plan’s regular monthly charge, which varies from plan to plan, said Ms. Cubanski. (The income ranges at which the higher surcharges apply for parts B and D are the same.)

The law also closes the Medicare Part D coverage gap, known as the doughnut hole, in 2019—one year sooner than planned. Part D prescription drug plans typically cover 75% of the cost of medication, leaving the participant to pick up 25%. But after the total cost of a participant’s drugs reaches a set amount per year—$3,750 in 2018—he or she falls into the doughnut hole. Once there, the participant is currently on the hook for 35% of the cost of his or her brand-name medications, up to $5,000 in total out-of-pocket costs, said Ms. Cubanski. At that point, catastrophic coverage kicks in, limiting participants’ outlays, typically to 5%.

Next year, when the doughnut hole disappears, Part D beneficiaries will pay 25% of their total costs until the catastrophic coverage kicks-in.

BN-XO865_2SCDF_OR_20180222111607.jpgPhoto:  Jacquelyn Martin/Associated Press

An estimated 30% of Medicare Part D participants fell into the doughnut hole in 2015, the most recent data available, said Ms. Cubanski.

Source: https://www.wsj.com/articles/medicare-surcharges-to-increase-for-top-earners-in-2019-1519316589

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Tags: medicare changes, Medicare Premiums, medicare updates

Social Security Eligibility Changes in 2018

Posted by www.psmbrokerage.com Admin on Mon, Feb 19, 2018 @ 03:55 PM

Social Security Eligibility Changes in 2018The Social Security Retirement Age Increases in 2018

Most baby boomers are eligible to claim their full Social Security benefit at age 66. However, Americans who will turn 62 in 2018 need to delay claiming Social Security for an additional four months in order to claim their full benefit. Here is how the Social Security full retirement age is changing and what it means for your retirement payout:

Read: Social Security Changes Coming in 2018

An older retirement age. Americans who will turn 62 in 2018 (born in 1956) will need to wait until age 66 and four months to claim their full Social Security retirement benefit. That's two months longer than those who turned 66 in 2017 and four months longer than older baby boomers born between 1943 and 1954 who have a full retirement age of 66.

The full retirement age will continue to increase in two-month increments each year until it hits 67 for everyone born in 1960 or later. "Those born in 1956 will get less per month at any age that they start Social Security than people one and two years older than them," says John Shoven, an economics professor at Stanford University. "If you start benefits before the full retirement age, you have to accept a permanent discount in your monthly benefits, and if you start benefits after the full retirement age you get more."

Bigger reductions for claiming early. If your full retirement age is 66 and you start your Social Security benefit at age 62, you get 25 percent smaller payments. "Raising the full retirement age by two months means you get about 1.1 percent less at 62," says Andy Landis, author of "Social Security: The Inside Story". "To counteract that, consider delaying your Social Security by a few months, or even later for higher payments." For example, a worker eligible for $1,000 per month from Social Security at his full retirement age of 66 would get only $750 per month if he starts payments at age 62. Those with the slightly older full retirement age of 66 and 4 months will get about 27 percent smaller payments if they sign up at age 62, which would reduce a $1,000 Social Security payment to about $730. Once the full retirement age increases to 67, those who start payments at age 62 will get 30 percent smaller payments.

Read: How to Undo Claiming Social Security Early

A smaller incentive to delay claiming. Workers who delay claiming Social Security between their full retirement age and age 70 have an opportunity to increase their monthly payments. "No one should claim without analyzing the options," says Anna Rappaport, chairwoman of the Society of Actuaries Committee on Post-Retirement Needs and Risks. "People who live long will have a benefit of greater value if they claim at higher ages."

However, those with an older retirement age have slightly less to gain by waiting. Baby boomers with a full retirement age of 66 can increase their monthly payments by as much as 32 percent by waiting until age 70 to start payments, which would boost a $1,000 benefit to $1,320 per month. Those with a full retirement age of 67 will only get 24 percent more if they delay claiming Social Security payments until age 70.

Compare your options. Retirees who claim Social Security early get smaller payments over a longer period of time. Those who delay claiming get bigger payments later on in retirement. The optimal age to sign up for Social Security ultimately depends on how long you and your spouse will live. People who live the longest have the most to gain by delaying claiming Social Security. You can get a personalized estimate of how much you will receive from Social Security at various claiming ages by creating a My Social Security account. "Everyone should have a My Social Security account so you have online access anytime, just like at your bank," Landis says. "You'll get not just your full retirement age, but a record of your earnings, a way to correct the record, if wrong, and you'll get estimates of your future payments."

Read: What is the Maximum Possible Social Security Benefit?

Medicare eligibility remains the same. While the Social Security full retirement age is increasing, the age for Medicare eligibility is unchanged. Workers who wait until 66 or later to sign up for Social Security still need to take care to sign up for Medicare at age 65 or maintain other health insurance based on current employment to avoid Medicare late enrollment penalties. "Be sure to contact Social Security a few months before 65 to learn your Medicare options," Landis says. "You don't want to pay late fees because you waited too long."

Source: https://money.usnews.com/money/retirement/social-security/articles/2018-02-12/the-social-security-retirement-age-increases-in-2018

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Tags: Social Security, medicare updates

Proposed Changes to Medicare Prescription Drug Coverage

Posted by www.psmbrokerage.com Admin on Fri, Feb 16, 2018 @ 09:41 AM

Summary of Recent and Proposed Changes to Part D

Summary of Recent and Proposed Changes to Medicare Part D

On February 9, 2018 the President signed into law the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018 (BBA of 2018), which included some provisions related to Medicare Part D prescription drug coverage. Just days later, on February 12, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) released the President’s fiscal year (FY) 2019 budget, which also included several proposals related to Medicare Part D drug coverage and Part B drug reimbursement.

This brief summarizes these recent and proposed changes. Budget estimates for provisions in the BBA of 2018 reflect the 10-year (2018-2027) effects as estimated by the Congressional Budget Office. Budget estimates for proposals in the President’s FY2019 budget reflect the 10-year (2019-2028) effects as estimated by OMB.1

Summary of Changes in the BBA of 2018

  • Part D coverage gap and manufacturer discount: Closes the Part D coverage gap in 2019 instead of 2020 by accelerating a reduction in beneficiary coinsurance from 30 percent to 25 percent in 2019; also increases the discount provided by manufacturers of brand-name drugs in the coverage gap from 50 percent to 70 percent, beginning in 2019. In 2019 and later years, Part D plans will cover the remaining 5 percent of costs in the coverage gap, which is a reduction in their share of costs (down from 25 percent). The manufacturer discount will continue to count towards a beneficiary’s “true out-of-pocket spending” (TrOOP), the spending amount that triggers the start of catastrophic coverage. Estimated budget impact: not estimated separately by CBO; included in biosimilars provision below
  • Biosimilars: Beginning in 2019, biosimilars will be treated the same as other brand-name drugs in the Part D coverage gap, with manufacturer discounts of 70 percent; previously biosimilars were not included in the coverage gap discount program. Estimated budget impact: -$10.05 billion
  • Income-related Medicare premiums: Increases Medicare Part B and Part D premiums for beneficiaries with incomes of $500,000 (for individuals) and $750,000 (for married couples) or more, to 85 percent of program costs, up from 80 percent, beginning in 2019. Estimated budget impact: -$1.63 billion

Summary of Proposed Changes in the President’s FY2019 Budget


  • Share rebates with Part D enrollees: Would require Part D plans to pass on at least one-third of total rebates and price concessions to enrollees at the point of sale. The Administration solicited comments on potential policy approaches related to this idea in a November 2017 proposed rule for the Medicare Advantage and Part D programs. Estimated budget impact: +$42.16 billion
  • Add an out-of-pocket limit to Part D and change reinsurance: Would establish an out-of-pocket limit in the Part D benefit by phasing down beneficiary coinsurance in the catastrophic coverage phase of the benefit from the current 5 percent level to 0 percent (no cost sharing) over four years, beginning in 2019.2 Also would increase plans’ share of costs in the catastrophic coverage phase of the benefit from 15 percent to 80 percent, and decrease Medicare’s reinsurance from 80 percent to 20 percent. The Medicare Payment Advisory Commission (MedPAC) recommended similar changes to Part D reinsurance in 2016. Estimated budget impact: +$7.36 billion
  • Change TrOOP calculation: Would exclude manufacturer discounts from the calculation of beneficiaries’ “true out-of-pocket spending.” MedPAC also recommended this change, in combination with the proposed changes to catastrophic coverage above. Estimated budget impact: -$47.02 billion
  • Change Part D formulary standards: Would loosen Part D plan formulary standards by requiring plans to cover a minimum of one drug per drug category or class, down from the current two-drug requirement. Would expand plans’ ability to use utilization management tools for specialty drugs and drugs in the six protected classes (anticonvulsants, antidepressants, antineoplastics, antipsychotics, antiretrovirals, and immunosuppressants for the treatment of transplant rejection). Estimated budget impact: -$5.52 billion
  • Eliminate cost sharing for generics for low-income enrollees: Would eliminate cost sharing on generic drugs for Part D enrollees receiving the low-income subsidy (LIS), including biosimilars and preferred multisource drugs, beginning in 2019. MedPAC recommended a similar change in 2016. Estimated budget impact: -$0.21 billion
  • Retroactive Part D coverage for low-income enrollees: Would permanently authorize CMS to contract with a single Part D plan to provide Part D coverage to low-income beneficiaries while their LIS eligibility is processed, beginning in 2020; this is currently a demonstration program scheduled to run through 2019. Estimated budget impact: -$0.30 billion


  • Average sales price data reporting: Would require manufacturers of Part B drugs to report average sales price (ASP) data and would authorize the Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) to apply civil monetary penalties if manufacturers do not meet reporting requirements, beginning in 2019. Estimated budget impact: no budget impact
  • Establish a limit on Part B reimbursement growth rate: Would establish an inflation limit for reimbursement of Part B drugs paid based on ASP, with the growth in the ASP portion of Medicare’s reimbursement to physicians for these drugs (currently ASP plus 6 percent) limited to growth in the Consumer Price Index for all Urban Consumers (CPI-U), beginning in 2019. Currently there is no limit on updates to the ASP plus 6 percent reimbursement if the ASP increases. Under the budget proposal, reimbursement to physicians for Part B drugs paid based on ASP would be the lesser of actual ASP plus 6 percent or the inflation-adjusted ASP plus 6 percent. Estimated budget impact: not available
  • Coverage of certain Part B drugs under Part D: Would authorize the HHS Secretary to consolidate coverage of certain drugs under Part D that are currently covered under Part B, beginning in 2019, subject to a determination that there are savings to be gained from the consolidation (shifting from the ASP plus 6 percent reimbursement under Part B to negotiated pricing under Part D). Estimated budget impact: not available

Source: http://files.kff.org/attachment/Issue-Brief-Summary-of-Recent-and-Proposed-Changes-to-Medicare-Prescription-Drug-Coverage-and-Reimbursement-Policy

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Tags: Part D Premiums, Medicare Part D, Part D

Build a Customer Referral Program With These 5 Tips

Posted by www.psmbrokerage.com Admin on Thu, Feb 08, 2018 @ 02:38 PM

Build a Customer Referral Program With The 5 Tips

Build a Customer Referral Program With These 5 Tips

This is a great summary from a recent Hubspot article on how to create an effective customer referral program. 1 in 3 people come to a brand through a recommendation, and customers who were referred by loyal customers have a 37% higher retention rate. (Deloitte)

Word of mouth is the primary factor behind 20-50% of all purchasing decisions, especially when considering a first time buy or something relatively expensive. (McKinsey)

But what does all of this mean for you?  Well, although purchasing decisions for your product or service are as complex as ever, a leading factor in your prospect's decision-making process is advocacy from their trusted sources. The question is, are you harnessing the power of your brand advocates to get these quality referrals?

There are a few quick steps you can take to building a customer referral program so you can start reaping the benefits of referral leads that, on average, are 4-10x more valuable than regular leads, resulting in shorter sales cycles, increased win rates, and larger order sizes (Influitive).

1. Find Your Advocates

Advocates, by definition, are consumers and business buyers who frequently recommend brands and products without being paid to do so (Zuberance). Those advocates should be highly trusted by your brand and/or have a substantial amount of influence over the market that you're selling to. But where do you actually get them?

2. Set a Goal

It's important to set goals for your program, even if it's brand new and you have no historical data to base it off of. A useful factor to consider could be the amount of referrals your business is getting organically. You might figure out this number by reviewing sales notes or talking to your marketing team to see how often someone mentions a referral or that they've been referred. Referrals might even be happening outside of the business all together, such as customers talking to prospects over coffee or through social media messages. If this number is non-existent or too difficult to figure out, set a relatively reasonable goal based on how many advocates you're planning to engage in the program and a conversion rate around 10% (Friendbuy).

3. Choose the Right Incentive(s)

It's common knowledge that trying to buy your brand advocates is bad news for your business. Paying advocates to promote your brand can get pricey and extremely inefficient in the long run. On top of the price tag and it's inefficiency, there's minimal trust in a paid to perform relationship where trust should really be a key factor. Instead, consider rewarding your advocates for their organic promotion of your brand.

4. Find Your Promotional Mediums

Now that you've got your advocates, your goals and your incentives all set up, it's time to decide where and how you're going to promote your program. Just like advocates are found in many different locations, so should your customer referral program. An email campaign is a great start but unless you're constantly reminding your customers (in a way that doesn't annoy them enough to stop opening your emails), then you're going to have to find a few more places to stay top of mind. Get creative and find out where your customers spend the most time or even pages they frequent for short periods of time.

5. Keep Your Tech in Check

The tech behind your program is easily overlooked or taken for granted, but it's going to make or break how you approach and manage referrals. Some key information and metrics that you should easily be able to keep track of include:

  • Who is referring who?
  • How far along in the sales process is a referral?
  • When did a referral become a customer (or not)?
  • Which of your promotional materials is working best (and worst)?
  • Which incentive should your advocate receive and when?

Building a customer referral program can be time consuming but if done well, the benefits are likely to far outweigh the costs. Just don't be afraid to try something new. Take charge and harness the power of your advocate community, today.

Source: https://blog.hubspot.com/customers/building-customer-referral-program

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Tags: Referrals, sales advice, sales

New Medicare Cards Finally Get Roll-Out

Posted by www.psmbrokerage.com Admin on Thu, Feb 01, 2018 @ 09:52 AM

New Medicare Cards Finally Get Roll-Out

New Medicare Cards Finally Get Roll-Out

CMS has revealed which states will be the first in the nation to receive new Medicare identification cards that don't contain Social Security numbers.

Medicare beneficiaries in Delaware, the District of Columbia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia and West Virginia are among the states that will be first to get the cards starting in April.

Beneficiaries in Alaska, American Samoa, California, Guam, Hawaii, the Northern Mariana Islands and Oregon are also expected to get the cards starting that month.

Since the beginning of the Medicare program, Social Security numbers have been used as the beneficiary identifier for administering services. The Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act required the CMS to remove the numbers from Medicare cards because of identity theft and fraud risks.

Starting this April, the CMS will begin to issue Medicare cards with new ID numbers. Approximately 60 million beneficiaries will receive the new cards by April 2019.



Providers have been worried because they haven't received the guidance they've needed on the change.

Without clear instructions on how to prepare for the change, physicians risk losing their ability to bill Medicare. Claims with the old numbers won't be accepted starting in 2020. Practices also need to update their electronic health record systems to accept the new ID numbers.

Providers had been pushing the CMS to make the change via a rulemaking process, giving the agency a chance to lay out a substantive rollout plan and letting clinicians weigh in.

While dealing with ICD-10, the rollout of the Merit-based Incentive Payment System and alternative payment models under MACRA, as well as ongoing EHR meaningful-use activities, vendors may not be able to address this latest change in a timely way, according to Robert Tennant, director of health information technology policy at the Medical Group Management Association.

Source: http://www.modernhealthcare.com/article/20180129/NEWS/180129879/new-medicare-id-cards-come-to-mid-atlantic-states-first

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Tags: Medicare Advice, New Medicare Cards, medicare updates

A Comprehensive Guide to Talking to Prospects on the Phone

Posted by www.psmbrokerage.com Admin on Mon, Jan 22, 2018 @ 10:58 AM

A Comprehensive Guide to Talking to Prospects on the Phone

A Comprehensive Guide to Talking to Prospects on the Phone

If you’re not comfortable on the phone, sales probably isn't the career for you. Learning how to capture and keep someone's attention without physically being in their presence is a skill all salespeople need. It’s also a skill that demands constant practice and improvement.

This guide covers everything from pre-call preparation to sales script tips. More of a visual learner? Scroll down, or click here, to see a detailed infographic from The Gap Partnership.

Phone Sales Tips


Make Sure You’re Comfortable on the Phone

There are a few basic characteristics everyone needs in a phone-centric career like sales. Don't have the characteristics outlined below? Either practice until you do or look for another gig.

  1. Enthusiasm: Be eager to discuss your client’s background, pain points, and goals. Your prospect can sense when you sound bored or uninterested and will be less willing to open up. So, ramp up your enthusiasm until you're both excited to find a solution for their use case.

  2. Patience: Be ready to listen. Don’t rush your prospect through the conversation, because you never know when a tangent might lead to valuable insights that will help you close. Be firm in guiding the conversation, but allow enough time for the prospect to share openly.

  3. Passion: If you don’t love what you’re talking about, how can you expect anyone else to? Passion is critical to selling. Of course, very few of us are “passionate” about selling software, cars, or service packages, so we have to find an angle that does make us excited. If your software helps users get promoted or frees up time they can spend with their families that’s something to get passionate about. Tell yourself a story that motivates and inspires you, and you’ll have the same effect on others.

  4. Confidence: Be comfortable sharing your views. Everyone -- including prospects -- wants honesty. If you think a prospect might not be a good fit for your product/service, tell them. If you don’t have a feature your prospect wants, be honest about it and propose solutions or product roadmaps that prove you’re proactively thinking about ways forward. Your confidence sets the tone of the call, so be authoritative and proactive.

  5. Sense of Humor: Don’t take yourself or your sales call too seriously. Have a little fun and help your prospect relax. You might try a trusty joke ("Want to hear a joke about a piece of paper? Never mind... it's tearable.") or self-deprecating humor, but break the ice and it’ll be much easier when you press for next steps.

Be Prepared

Never dial the phone without preparing. Whether you’re taking your first call or your 400th, there are a few things you should do before every meeting:

  1. Define your purpose: Ask yourself what you want to achieve during this call and how you'll get there.

  2. Prepare questions in advance: What questions do you need to ask to achieve your goal?

  3. Brainstorm answers: What are likely responses your prospect will have to your questions? By thinking these through ahead of time, you’ll anticipate push back and tangential questions and be more --prepared to answer them.

  4. Practice: Whether pitching a new product or giving the same spiel you’ve orated a hundred times, check in every few months to see how you’re doing. Record yourself giving a practice presentation and conduct your own call review to tune up your demo.

  5. Visualize: Put up a picture of your caller -- or another person -- and pretend you’re talking to them while they’re on the phone. Sound creepy? Maybe. Does it help you speak to the disembodied voice at the end of the line like they're a real person? Absolutely.
  6. Dress the part: Would you be confident if the caller saw you? If not, that'll project over the phone. Dress in a way that makes you feel great and your caller will pick up on it.

Achieve a Relaxed Voice

You can sense when someone’s smiling on the phone, right? It’s not just your imagination. Talking with a grin creates a higher frequency in your mouth which changes the tone of your voice and reassures the listener.

To practice this technique, record a sentence in your own non-smiling style. Then record the same words again with a smile and notice the difference.

Also, you can achieve a relaxed and persuasive tone by putting your voice’s most powerful tools to work. Here’s how:

  1. Pace: Speak too slowly and your listener might get bored or frustrated. Speak too fast and they may mishear. An expert caller will mirror the pace of the person they’re speaking with. And remember: It takes 10-30 seconds to adjust to a new voice, so give your listener time to adjust to you before diving into the most important part of your presentation.

  2. Volume: A drawn-out, high-pitched voice says, “I don’t believe what I’m hearing,” while a low-and-slow pitch says, “I want to be left alone.” Aim for an emphatic, high-pitched volume telling your listener you’re enthusiastic. And, of course, avoid sounding loud and abrupt, because that says you’re angry and not open to discussion.

  3. Tone: Don’t apologize for “interrupting” with your call. This sounds like you’ve done something wrong -- which you haven’t. Instead, act as if this call is doing your listener a favor.

  4. Clarity: Be clear and concise in what you stress in your presentation. Consider the meaning of a sentence and how important the stress of each word can be.

Take these examples:

•  Apathetic: “What would you like us to do about it?”
•  Defensive: “What would you like me to do about it?
•  Curious: “What would you like me to do about it?”

Convince Your Listener

They key to running professional calls is being aware of how your physical cues are impacting your prospect and the energy of your meeting. Here are a few things to be aware of:

  1. Body language: It’s natural to use your hands as you talk, and that’s a good thing. The more you gesture, the more vocal range you use. And when you increase your vocal range, your calls sound natural and conversational. Only 7% of a message is transferred using words. 38% is transferred by the way those words are spoken and 55% is transferred by body language. Headsets are a great way to free up your hands and let them do the talking during your call.

  2. Non-verbal communication: Non-verbal sounds, including laughter, sighs, and gasps, are all ways to influence and encourage your listener. Likewise, pausing on and stressing certain words can affect your listener’s reception as we mentioned above.

  3. Good posture: Yes, really. Your body’s posture is important to how you sound on the phone. To achieve the most accurate sound, position the receiver mouthpiece an inch away from your mouth. And remember, your lungs can’t fill properly when you’re slumped in a chair, which negatively affects your tone and volume. So, sit up straight, and make your mom proud.

  4. Never put them on hold: It’s impolite to put your prospect -- or anyone -- on hold without warning or explanation. It also breaks your rhythm and interrupts the connection you’ve built with your prospect. If something urgent does come up and you have to interrupt your call, never place someone on hold for more than 20-30 seconds without offering to reschedule the meeting.

Use Your Call Script Successfully

Call scripts are there for a reason. Practice with them, but keep a few other things in mind before you jump on a call:

  1. Quit clichés: Common sales phrases like “game-changer,” “par for the course,” and “win-win” are contrived and will turn your caller off. Speak with conversational, everyday language you’d use with a colleague or even a friend, and try to make your prospect forget they’re on a sales call.

  2. Edit: If you’re given a script, edit it to suit your natural vocabulary and way of talking.

  3. Don’t read it verbatim: Many salespeople have scripts, but don’t read from them directly. Use it as a guide, and you’ll sound much more natural.

  4. Have a contingency plan: If a prospect is busy or you’re reaching out for the first time, be prepared for them to try fleeing the phone as quickly as possible. When this happens, break from your script and pull out your contingency plan. For example, if a prospect says, “I’m actually in the middle of something right now,” try responding, “That’s totally fair. Would you mind if I take 30 seconds just to tell you why I called? If it doesn’t make sense, you can hang up. Does that sound OK?” You’re more likely to catch your prospect off guard and keep them on the phone.

Be a Good Listener

Easier said than done. Many salespeople railroad their prospects with too many questions, giving them little or no time to respond.

Others ask too few questions and simply throw out solutions without really understanding their prospect’s unique use case. Here are a few tips for being a good listener who really “gets” your prospect:

  1. Don’t interrupt: When face-to-face, we give non-verbal cues like shifting slightly, opening our mouths, and nodding to let the other person know we have something to add. Over the phone, those non-verbal cues aren’t available. But that doesn’t mean you should interrupt. Hold your thoughts until there’s a natural break in the conversation to avoid sounding impatient or rude.

  2. Show you’re listening: Try reflective listening by adding an occasional “yes,” “hmm,” and “I see” as you listen. Make sure these phrases don’t overpower the speaker. Instead, pepper them into the conversation to let your prospect know you’re on the same page.

  3. Avoid background noise: Show your caller they have your full attention by avoiding background sounds like typing, rustling, or radio/television. If you work on a busy sales floor, book a conference room so you and your prospect aren't distracted by background activity.

Have Great Timing

The best time to conduct outreach is on Thursdays between 8:00 am and 10:00 am and again between 4:00 pm and 5:00 pm. The worse time to call someone is on Tuesdays between 11:00 am and 2:00 pm.

You can also use timing to get a leg up on your competitors. Know they’re calling prospects between 9:00 am and 5:00 pm? Try phoning prospects outside this timeframe to stand out, and maybe reach high-level prospects who normally have a gatekeeper screening their calls.

Stay Positive

Don’t overwhelm prospects with your intense enthusiasm. Starting a sales calls with an eager “Hey! How are you [prospect name]!?” might come off as a pushy and inauthentic.

Maintain a genuine tone and mirror your prospect’s demeanor. A less salesy way to keep things light is by sprinkling positive language into your call. Here are a few examples of cheerful language:

“You’re welcome”
“It’s my pleasure”
“Of course”
“It’s no trouble”
“I will find out for you”
“Rest assured”
“Thank you”
“That’s great”

And don’t forget to establish rapport. The best way to start off on a positive note is to be polite, honest, and personalized with your prospect. Use their name, give them your full attention, and take ownership of follow up and next steps.

Close with Style

All of this is worth nothing unless you close the call well. Be clear, offer a review of what you’ve discussed, and always thank your prospect for their time.

  1. Give verbal signs the call is ending: A common way to do this is by giving a summary of the discussion and offering next steps.

  2. Make sure you’ve covered it all: Ask your prospect, “Is there anything we didn’t cover that I can speak to before we end the call?”

  3. Always be thanking: Never end a call without thanking your prospect for their time and attention. They didn’t have to take your call, so acknowledging their busy schedule is always appreciated.

Successful phone calls are an art. Master these techniques and see more deals move forward and your peers and managers take notice. For more information on selling Medicare Supplements and Medicare Advantage Plans over the phone, check out this resource page: http://www.psmbrokerage.com/sell-medicare-supplements-online or contact us at 800-998-7715 to request information.

Source: https://blog.hubspot.com/sales/everything-you-need-to-know-about-selling-over-the-phone-in-a-single-infographic

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Tags: Medicare Supplement, sales advice, Sales Strategies, internet sales, phone sales

Mutual of Omaha plans to sell Medicare Advantage health plans in 2019

Posted by www.psmbrokerage.com Admin on Thu, Jan 18, 2018 @ 12:31 PM

Mutual of Omaha plans to sell Medicare Advantage health plans in 2019

Mutual of Omaha to Enter Medicare Advantage Market in 2019

I'm sure if you've spent even a short amount of time in the Insurance industry you will recognize the name Mutual of Omaha.

But did you know that Mutual of Omaha will begin selling its first Medicare Advantage health plan in 2019?

Mutal of Omaha will work in cooperation with Lumeris Inc., a St. Louis company that will arrange health provider networks and manage the plans.

It’s a big step for the Omaha-based insurer, which got out of the individual and small-group health insurance business more than a decade ago, although it has sold Medicare Supplement plans since 1966 and is the second-largest source of those plans.

But Medicare Supplement enrollment is declining and Medicare Advantage sales are increasing, said Brad Buechler, a Mutual executive vice president.

Medicare Supplement insurance, also known as Medigap, is sold by private companies to help pay some costs not covered by government Medicare.

Medicare Advantage plans also are sold by private companies but are an alternative to government-run Medicare, providing the traditional coverage plus other benefits.

About one-fifth of Medicare recipients use Medicare Supplement coverage to augment their Medicare plans. About one-third use Medicare Advantage plans, and Kaiser Family Foundation predicts that share to pass 40 percent by 2027.

“The goal here is to ensure that we’ve got all of the interests of all parties aligned through the whole health care delivery value system,” Buechler said.

Between 2001 and 2007 Mutual got out of small-group, individual major and group health insurance, dismantling its health care provider networks.

Lumeris has the expertise to set up new networks of providers that want to practice “value-based” care that depends on good medical outcomes rather than traditional fees for each medical service, Buechler said.

Lumeris also will help identify metropolitan statistical areas — yet to be selected — where the new plans can compete for significant market share, he said.

Mutual, which is likely to count more than $8 billion in revenue this year, will own the plans under the Mutual Medicare Advantage name and will provide brand, marketing and distribution expertise and capital.

Mutual declined to reveal its financial goals for the Medicare Advantage business.

Buechler said the plans will have “narrow” networks, meaning clients will choose from limited numbers of physicians, hospitals and other care providers. Such managed care networks are designed to reduce costs while improving efficiency and medical outcomes.

The two companies expect the first plans to be ready for the Medicare open enrollment period that starts Oct. 15, with advertising leading up to that and plans taking effect Jan. 1, 2019.

Precision Senior Marketing is a proud partner of Mutual of Omaha and we look forward to offer agents another quality Mutual of Omaha product as soon it comes available.

Source: http://www.omaha.com/money/mutual-of-omaha-plans-to-sell-medicare-advantage-health-plans/article_abdb2ae8-fbe4-11e7-b7c4-bb29f4f4e57e.html

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Tags: Medicare Advantage plans, medicare supplement insurance, mutual of omaha

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