We hope everybody had a fantastic 2017 Annual Enrollment Period. Now that the frenzy has calmed down and we settle in for the holidays, it is a great time to think about some cross-selling ideas you can implement with your current clients and newly acquired ones.
Whether it be Hospital Indemnity, Final Expense, or maybe even Dental or Cancer Insurance, there is an array of opportunities to help better protect your clients while earning additional revenue. Below are some great ideas to consider when cross-selling.
29 Ideas to Cross-Sell More Insurance to Current Clients
1) Know the Two Types
Did you know there are two distinct types of Cross Selling situations?
Prospects who already own the product - These people already bought the coverage from a competitor but you’re trying to get the business with your agency.
The key with them is repetition, collecting the x date, good follow-up and selling the benefits of your agency.
Prospects who DO NOT already own the product - These people don’t currently have the type of coverage you’re trying to sell them.
The key with them is product awareness, education, creating a need, identifying interest, and then selling.
These aren’t complete opposites, but they do require different approaches and sales tactics.
If you’re currently treating all cross-sale prospects the same, take a few moments to think about how each one requires a different approach and how you can address it best.
2) Develop an Established Cross-Selling System
It’s great if you read my articles and get a few ideas to implement here. That’s why I write the darn things.
The trouble is that most agents “think” they’re going to use a few new ideas, some of them really do, but very few make changes to the procedures and systems they use in their agency to make process improvements last.
The only way to create lasting success is to establish formal systems for processes in your agency like cross selling.
And this article is the perfect resource to help you put something like that together. Use it and do it!
You don’t have to write a manual, just make a list of what you want to do in each of the most common situations and share it with your staff.
3) Identify the Target Product(s) For Each Customer
Assuming your agency doesn’t specialize in specific lines of insurance, there are probably at least 4 different products that each of your customers could also buy from you.
And there are probably a bunch more that aren’t even relevant to each client.
Find a way to prioritize the best products to cross-sell each client and get this information front and center for your sales and customer service folks.
4) Establish a Tracking System
If your plan is to remember which products are the best cross-sale opportunities for each client, or to just always cross-sell the same one or two lines to everyone you’re not cross-selling efficiently.
Ideally, you’d be able to pull up any of your client’s accounts and see, at a glance, what products are the best cross sale opportunities for them. Having information like this top of mind when you’re looking at a client’s account will make a huge impact in how often your salespeople bring up the cross sale conversation.
In addition, it’s also great if you could pull up a list of all the clients who are prospects for each type of insurance. This is helpful for email, direct mail, or other campaigns that are oriented around awareness of your different product lines.
While we’re at it, you’re also going to need a way to keep track of X-dates for each month.
5) Handle Immediate Needs First
Be careful not to push cross-sales too hard during an initial sale.
It’s fine to plant seeds, but your prospects aren’t remotely interested in buying a second product from you until they know you can take care of the first one.
I’ve witnessed a lot of agents pushing too hard for additional lines when it’s clearly obvious the prospect only has one thing on their mind.
Respect your prospect, listen to your prospect, and put their immediate needs first.
Medicare Blog | Medicare News | Medicare Information
Everyone wants to start a business and increase sales as their business grows. "The key is not to call the decision maker. The key is to have the decision maker call you." - Jeffrey Gitomer
In this article, I will list out 25 of the most effective sales techniques anyone can implement in their business to increase sales and make more profits. Increasing sales volume is not just enough. You need to increase profits as well.
Strategy 1: Use Content Marketing
A few years back, when you had a product or service to sell what did you do to get the word out? You tried press releases, television ads, paper ads, cold calls, banner ads, display hoardings and any other means you could afford. Business went to those who had the largest marketing budgets.
Fast forward to present day, people are no longer paying attention to the thousands of marketing messages that they come across each and every single day. With internet usage on the rise and people becoming more aware, all of these traditional marketing approaches are weakening day-by-day.
Individuals who embrace relationship marketing has already understood the power of content marketing. As compared to traditional methods of marketing, content marketing means getting found by prospective customers rather than trying to push your product or service to the uninterested masses.
With content marketing, there is a host of benefits:
You should embrace content marketing, not just for the benefits. Although it takes time, it’s what works very well now, and probably the only marketing technique that will work in the future.
Strategy 2: Use Upsells Effectively
If you are not using upsells, you are leaving money on the table. How many times have you ordered fries just because the sales guy asked you “would you like fries to go along with it?” or perhaps you were given a discount on something when you already made a purchase?
Upsells are very useful to increase sales. Once they buy from you and are in a buying mood, it’s easier to close an additional and related sale.
Strategy 3: Create a Product / Solution Which Has Demand
"Supply always comes on the heels of demand." – Robert Collier
This is a no brainer. Understand what your customers want. Is there some product already in the market that delivers the solution to your prospective client? If not, provide it.
If there is already a product or a solution, try to think of a better way to satisfy the needs of the customer. This can be in the form of a better quality product. You can even bring about a twist in the actual offering to make your product more attractive.
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) announced the 2017 premiums for the Medicare inpatient hospital (Part A) and physician and outpatient hospital services (Part B) programs.
Medicare Part B Premiums/Deductibles
Medicare Part B covers physician services, outpatient hospital services, certain home health services, durable medical equipment, and other items.
On October 18, 2016, the Social Security Administration announced that the cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) for Social Security benefits will be 0.3 percent for 2017. Because of the low Social Security COLA, a statutory “hold harmless” provision designed to protect seniors, will largely prevent Part B premiums from increasing for about 70 percent of beneficiaries. Among this group, the average 2017 premium will be about $109.00, compared to $104.90 for the past four years.
For the remaining roughly 30 percent of beneficiaries, the standard monthly premium for Medicare Part B will be $134.00 for 2017, a 10 percent increase from the 2016 premium of $121.80. Because of the “hold harmless” provision covering the other 70 percent of beneficiaries, premiums for the remaining 30 percent must cover most of the increase in Medicare costs for 2017 for all beneficiaries. This year, as in the past, the Secretary has exercised her statutory authority to mitigate projected premium increases for these beneficiaries, while continuing to maintain a prudent level of reserves to protect against unexpected costs. The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) will work with Congress as it explores budget-neutral solutions to challenges created by the “hold harmless” provision.
“Medicare’s top priority is to ensure that beneficiaries have affordable access to the care they need,” said CMS Acting Administrator Andy Slavitt. “We will continue our efforts to improve affordability, access, and quality in Medicare.”
Medicare Part B beneficiaries not subject to the “hold harmless” provision include beneficiaries who do not receive Social Security benefits, those who enroll in Part B for the first time in 2017, those who are directly billed for their Part B premium, those who are dually eligible for Medicaid and have their premium paid by state Medicaid agencies, and those who pay an income-related premium. These groups represent approximately 30 percent of total Part B beneficiaries.
CMS also announced that the annual deductible for all Medicare Part B beneficiaries will be $183 in 2017 (compared to $166 in 2016). Premiums and deductibles for Medicare Advantage and prescription drug plans are already finalized and are unaffected by this announcement.
Medicare Part A Premiums/Deductibles
Medicare Part A covers inpatient hospital, skilled nursing facility, and some home health care services. About 99 percent of Medicare beneficiaries do not have a Part A premium since they have at least 40 quarters of Medicare-covered employment.
The Medicare Part A inpatient hospital deductible that beneficiaries pay when admitted to the hospital will be $1,316 per benefit period in 2017, an increase of $28 from $1,288 in 2016. The Part A deductible covers beneficiaries’ share of costs for the first 60 days of Medicare-covered inpatient hospital care in a benefit period. Beneficiaries must pay a coinsurance amount of $329 per day for the 61st through 90th day of hospitalization ($322 in 2016) in a benefit period and $658 per day for lifetime reserve days ($644 in in 2016). For beneficiaries in skilled nursing facilities, the daily coinsurance for days 21 through 100 of extended care services in a benefit period will be $164.50 in 2017 ($161 in 2016).
Enrollees age 65 and over who have fewer than 40 quarters of coverage and certain persons with disabilities pay a monthly premium in order to receive coverage under Medicare Part A. Individuals who had at least 30 quarters of coverage or were married to someone with at least 30 quarters of coverage may buy into Part A at a reduced monthly premium rate, which will be $227 in 2017, a $1 increase from 2016. Uninsured aged and certain individuals with disabilities who have exhausted other entitlement and who have less than 30 quarters of coverage will pay the full premium, which will be $413 a month, a $2 increase from 2016.
Where Does Donald Trump Stand on Medicare?
By Emily Gurnon, Next Avenue
Donald Trump: The GOP platform advocates a “premium support model” for Medicare that would “guarantee to every enrollee an income-adjusted contribution toward a plan of their choice, with catastrophic protection.” In other words, privatization. Republicans would “save Medicare by modernizing it,” the platform says.
But Washington Post columnist Marc Thiessen on June 20 quoted Trump as saying, during the primaries, “Every Republican wants to do a big number on Social Security, they want to do it on Medicare, they want to do it on Medicaid. And we can’t do that. And it’s not fair to the people that have been paying in for years.”
“Every Republican wants to do a big number on Social
Chief Trump policy adviser Sam Clovis, however, said in May that a Trump administration would consider trimming Medicare benefits, according to the Wall Street Journal. “After the administration has been in place, then we will start to take a look at all of the programs, including entitlement programs like Social Security and Medicare,” Clovis reportedly said. “We’ll start taking a hard look at those to start seeing what we can do in a bipartisan way.”
Prescription Drug Costs
Total U.S. prescription drug sales in 2015 were more than $419.4 billion — 11.7% higher than in 2014, according to research published in May in the American Journal of Health-System Pharmacy. You don’t have to tell that to American consumers, especially older adults, who are dealing with rising prescription drug costs. A 2015 Kaiser Health Tracking Poll found that three-quarters of Americans believe prescription costs are unreasonable.
Donald Trump: He stunned Republicans by calling in January for Medicare to negotiate prescription drug prices, joining Clinton and Bernie Sanders in that proposal. Trump said it hasn’t been done thus far because politicians are beholden to pharmaceutical industry donations. But with his negotiation skills, he could accomplish it, he said, claiming this change would save billions of dollars. (Current law doesn’t allow Medicare to negotiate with drug companies.)
Like Clinton, Trump has also called for a change in U.S. law to allow importation of drugs from foreign countries, including Canada, to save Americans money. One big problem with that idea: Critics say there is no way to guarantee that the drugs aren’t counterfeit or contaminated.
Low inflation and something called hold-harmless provision are to blame.
Look out, high earners: Nearly a third of all Medicare beneficiaries, including those with higher incomes, are likely to face a steep increase in their premiums next year.
They have low inflation and something called the hold-harmless provision to blame. Social Security on Tuesday said its cost-of-living adjustment, or COLA, will bring a 0.3% increase for Social Security checks beginning in January, based on Tuesday’s consumer price index report.
The hold-harmless provision of the Social Security Act says Medicare can pass along only up to the dollar increase in the cost-of-living adjustment to the estimated 70% of all beneficiaries who will qualify for hold-harmless treatment in 2017.
Because a 0.3% increase in the cost-of-living adjustment would translate into a $4 raise in the average Social Security payment, this would effectively cap the average Medicare Part B increase at $4, said Dan Adcock, policy director at the nonprofit National Committee to Preserve Social Security & Medicare. Medicare Part B covers doctor visits and other types of outpatient care.
This means that Medicare must spread much of the projected increase in its costs across the remaining 30% of beneficiaries who aren’t covered under hold harmless. This group includes not only high earners, but also those who receive Medicare, but have deferred or aren’t eligible for Social Security benefits, and those who are new to Medicare in 2017.
It also applies to lower-income Medicare beneficiaries whose premiums are paid by state Medicaid programs. In the latter case, the increase would be paid by Medicaid, said Tricia Neuman, director of the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation’s program on Medicare policy.
The final premium increase won’t be announced immediately—the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, or CMS, last year released it in November. However in June, the Medicare trustees projected that with a 0.2% COLA, the standard premium for the 30% who aren’t covered by hold harmless could rise by as much as 22% to $149 a month.
With a 0.3% COLA, “presumably their premiums will rise to less than $149 a month, but it’s hard to know how much less,” said Paul Van de Water, senior fellow at the nonprofit Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.
The highest earners within the 30% would pay more. The Medicare trustees projected—based on a 0.2% COLA—that individuals earning between $85,001 and $107,000 and couples earning between $170,001 and $214,000 would have their 2016 monthly premiums rise from $170.50 a person this year to about $204.40 in 2017. For those earning more than $214,000, or $428,000 for couples, the report projected an increase to about $467.20 a month, from $389.00 in 2016. Again with the 0.3% COLA, those increases are likely to be lower.
Last year, when the Social Security COLA was zero, Congress staved off an initial 52% premium increase for Medicare beneficiaries not covered by the hold-harmless provision via a deal in the budget agreement that raised their premiums by 16% instead.
Mr. Adcock said Medicare law gives Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell “some discretion to use Part B trustee fund reserves” to reduce the premium increase for this group this year. “Whether she will have the flexibility to do that remains unclear to us,” he added.
In a statement Tuesday, CMS said it is “currently reviewing the Social Security cost of living adjustment amount and other data. As in prior years, Medicare Part B premiums will be announced this fall.”
If Ms. Burwell doesn’t take action, Mr. Adcock says his group will lobby Congress to intervene. He says he expects affected groups—including state governments whose budgets could be burdened by the projected increase for lower-income Medicare beneficiaries whose premiums are paid by state Medicaid programs—to push for a fix. Medicare is jointed funded by the federal and state governments.
Medicare covered 55 million people last year, according to the trustees’ report. Part B covered nearly 51 million. In 2017 Medicare is expected to have 58 million total participants and 53.5 million in Part B.
A sign supporting Medicare is seen on Capitol Hill in Washington in 2015. Photo: Jacquelyn Martin/Associated Press
Great AEP Opportunity
The Annual Enrollment Period is underway and now is a great time to make sure you making the best of the opportunity. During the AEP many successful agents double and even triple their income by offering ancillary products. Don't miss the opportunity to help secure your clients with the best coverage while growing your revenue at the same time.
Below are some of the ancillary products that we recommend you consider when speaking with your clients this AEP. If you need assistance with sales ideas and product positioning, give us a call and one of our experienced representatives will provide you with some great ideas.
Hospital indemnity Plans
Provides your clients a plan that helps cover the gaps that Medicare Advantage leaves behind. These plans are designed to help alleviate out of pocket expenses associated with health plan gaps. This is a great add-on sale and can be presented with a Medicare Advantage plan if the scope of appointment is completed properly.
Dental, Vision & Hearing Plans
We understanding that your clients teeth, eyesight and hearing are a big part of their quality of life. Problems can be painful, inconvenient and expensive. DVH is an affordable way to help pay for these expenses. Issue ages are 18-89 so it’s a great “add-on” policy to an existing medical or Med Supp policy.
We wish you continued success this AEP. Our staff is available if we can be of assistance.
The 2017 AEP is here!
The Annual Enrollment Period starts this Saturday, October 15th. We hope everybody has a successful AEP and we look forward to offering our continued support to make it a success. If you are in need of certification assistance or supply requests, please contact us today so we can help expedite any last minutes items.
Medicare Advantage membership continues to grow and now one-third of all Medicare beneficiaries have coverage through some type of Medicare Advantage plan. Now is a great time to be in the market and provide your professional assistance in helping clients find the best plan that fits their needs. With all the moving parts and so many different options available, the agents role in the market is more important than ever before.
Below are some recent figures published by CMS on the growth of Medicare Advantage as well as the importance of focusing on quality (Star Ratings).
2017 Star Ratings Released
There are 208 MA-PD coverage plans for 2017 that scored four stars or higher; they have a combined enrollment of about 68% of all beneficiaries, up from 179 plans in 2016. More Medicare Advantage programs received top-quality ratings from the CMS for 2017 plans than in previous years, though the average star rating declined slightly. Enrollment in Medicare Advantage is expected to hit an all-time high of about 18 million, about one-third of all Medicare enrollees.
The 2017 AEP is quickly approaching - Are you ready?
With the Annual Enrollment Period just a week away, it is important to make the best use of the limited window you have. It’s a stressful, pressure-packed time of year for agents in the senior market who can’t afford mistakes that force them to take finite time away from selling to deal with issues, or not having a solid strategy in place to ensure their time is being spent efficiently.
By now you should already be familiar with the different plans and benefits for the companies you intend to sell. If you are not, feel free to contact us and we can walk you through all the options available. It is also important to know the Do's and Don'ts in regards to CMS Guidelines to stay compliant. Below are some helpful reminders to make sure you are as productive as possible this AEP and stay within the required guidelines.
Helpful Reminders / Links:
Let PSM be your one stop shop for all your AEP Needs. We have a dedicated and knowledgeable staff ready to assist to make sure this is your best season yet. Email us at email@example.com or call us at 800-998-7715 for assistance.
We appreciate the opportunity to be a resource for your business and wish you the best of luck this AEP. Happy selling!
Only days after Judy Hanttula came home from the hospital after surgery last November, her doctor’s office called with bad news: Records showed that instead of traditional Medicare, she had a private Medicare Advantage plan, and her doctor and hospital were not in its network.
Neither the plan nor Medicare now would cover her medical costs. She owed $16,622.
“I was panicking,” said Hanttula, who lived in Carlsbad, N.M., at the time. After more than five hours making phone calls, she learned that because she’d had individual coverage through Blue Cross Blue Shield when she became eligible for Medicare, the company automatically signed her up for its own Medicare Advantage plan after notifying her in a letter. Hanttula said she ignored all mail from insurers because she had chosen traditional Medicare.
“I felt like I had insured myself properly with Medicare,” she said. “So I quit paying attention to the mail.”
With Medicare’s specific approval, a health insurance company can enroll a member of its marketplace or other commercial plan into its Medicare Advantage coverage when that individual becomes eligible for Medicare. Called “seamless conversion,” the process requires the insurer to send a letter explaining the new coverage, which takes effect unless the member opts out within 60 days.
Medicare officials refused recently to name the companies that have sought or received such approval or even to say how long the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services has allowed the practice. Numerous insurers, including Cigna, Anthem and other Blue Cross Blue Shield subsidiaries, also declined to discuss whether they are automatically enrolling beneficiaries as they turn 65.
Aetna will begin the process soon for its marketplace members in 17 Florida counties. The effort will kick off with individuals who qualify for Medicare in November, spokesman Matthew Clyburn said. They’ll receive 90 days advance notice instead of the required 60 and a postcard they can mail back, he said, and the company will follow up by phone to make sure they understand the change.
In November, UnitedHealthcare will start to automatically enroll members of its Medicaid plans in Tennessee and Arizona into its Medicare Advantage plans, a spokeswoman said.
And Humana, the nation’s second largest Medicare Advantage provider, has asked for federal permission to also do auto-enrollment. The process “will benefit people who want to stay with the same insurance company,” said Mark Mathis, director of Humana’s corporate communications. “It would simplify administration, eliminating a step in the process, and help maintain continuity with the same company.”
Medicare officials are developing a procedure for reviewing seamless conversion requests as well as a system to monitor implementation, spokesman Raymond Thorn said. A company given approval must automatically enroll all Medicare-eligible beneficiaries. But because federal law prohibits marketplace insurers from dropping a member who qualifies for Medicare, both marketplace and Medicare Advantage coverage continue until the person cancels the marketplace plan, Thorn explained.
Each year, Medicare Advantage enrollees have the opportunity to change plans during an annual enrollment period. This opportunity is important because Medicare Advantage plans can make changes in their benefits, cost-sharing, provider networks, and premiums each year, and beneficiaries health needs may change from one year to the next. The open enrollment period allows enrollees to compare plans, stick with their current plan, switch to another plan, or shift to traditional Medicare. It is also the time when beneficiaries in traditional Medicare can switch to Medicare Advantage plans.
Little is known about the extent to which Medicare Advantage enrollees change plans during the annual open enrollment period. Prior research shows that roughly the same share of beneficiaries, 5 percent, shift between Medicare Advantage and traditional Medicare each year that most enrollees tend to stay in a Medicare Advantage plan once in Medicare Advantage and that switching rates from Medicare Advantage to traditional Medicare are higher among high-need, high-cost patients.
This analysis focuses on enrollees in Medicare Advantage plans with prescription drug coverage (MAPDs) who change plans when given the opportunity. It also analyzes the variation in the rate of plan switching by enrollee and plan characteristics and whether people who voluntarily switch plans tend to move to plans with lower premiums, lower out-of-pocket limits, or higher quality ratings. The analysis is based on a five percent sample of Medicare claims data merged with plan data from 2007 to 2014.