Subscribe by Email

Your email:

Agent Updates

Untitled Document

Medicare Blog | Medicare News | Medicare Information

Current Articles | RSS Feed RSS Feed

19 things to know about Medicare Advantage


blog pic

Medicare Advantage (formerly known as Medicare+Choice) permits contracts between the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) and a variety of different private managed care and fee-for-service entities. Most Medicare beneficiaries may choose to receive benefits either through the original Medicare fee-for-service program (Medicare Part A (Hospital Insurance) and Medicare Part B (Medical Insurance)). Main types of Medicare Advantage plans include:

  • Coordinated care plans, including Health Maintenance Organizations (HMOs), Preferred Provider Organizations (PPOs), and Provider-Sponsored Organizations (PSOs).
  • Private fee-for-service plans which reimburse providers on a fee-for-service basis.
Click on the link below to view all 19 things every agent should know about Medicare Advantage.



Additional Updates:

Getting the appointment: Use a well-practiced script


blog pic

Most financial professionals are really good talkers. We like people and we tend to be out-going and friendly.

This trait is important when you are in a relationship-oriented business. However, sometimes your natural ability to talk does not work for you on the phone.

When setting an appointment with a new prospect, it is critical to come across in a professional manner. Although you want to sound natural and friendly, that does not mean eliminating a script. It means having a script that:

  • says what you want it to
  • sounds like you and the way you normally talk; and
  • has "natural-sounding" sentences that get your point across.
The challenge starts with your script. If you write a "literary" script that would work for an SAT exam, then it won't come across in a conversational way. So the trick to sounding natural is to write the script and then PRACTICE!!

I conduct role-playing sessions with several agencies. I am appalled that someone who professes to be a financial professional would get on the phone without knowing what they are going to say. And the newer you are, the less you can fake your way through a call.

I hear producers say many, many good things over the phone, but when they aren't linked together properly (i.e. having a beginning, middle and end that matches my ABCDEFG format) the impact of the words gets lost.

You have to clearly identify yourself based on your relationship to the prospect; then:
  • tell them why you are calling (and it's not to get the appointment);
  • mention the idea of getting together; and
  • give them the benefit of the appointment. Don't interrupt the flow with a yes-no question ("Does that interest you?") or you lose control of the call. You end with your alternative choice close and then you are done. Then wait to hear their response.
If you think you sound scripted, then improve your delivery. Don't throw out the structured format just because you haven't mastered your use of it!

You can be sure that if your managers and peers think you sound like you are ad-libbing, then the prospect hears it too. Ad-libbing does not come across as friendly; it sounds like you are grasping for words and that reduces the professionalism of your call.

Write a good script, practice it so you can "talk" it, then make your calls!

Keep smilin' and dialin'



Additional Updates:

Boomer Retirement Confidence Slips


blog pic

According to a report released by the Insured Retirement Institute (IRI), baby boomer confidence in their financial preparedness for retirement dropped nine percent, from 44 percent in 2011 to 35 percent in 2014. When compared to 2013, only 35 percent of boomers are extremely or very confident that they are doing or did a good job preparing for retirement in 2014.

However, the report points out that there are signs of optimism among boomers, mainly related to having enough money to cover medical expenses and that their financial situation will continue to improve: 42 percent said they expect things to improve in five years, compared to 33 percent in 2013.

Another good indicator that the report shed light on is that boomers working with advisors tend to have more confidence in their expectations towards retirement. The survey interviewed a total of 800 participants between the ages of 51 and 67 from January 17 to 20, 2014.

You can find the full report here. View more highlights from the report in our infographic below.



Additional Updates:

Medicare Drug Premiums to Rise for Second Year


blog pic

Medicare says premiums for prescription drug plans will rise in 2015 for the second year in a row. Officials said Thursday that Medicare's average monthly drug premium will rise next year to $32. The modest increase of $1 a month comes amid worries over the future impact of costly new medications.

Sovaldi, for example, cures hepatitis C but costs $1,000 a pill. Most Medicare beneficiaries have prescription drug coverage. But consumers should pay attention because the average premium says little about what any one person pays. Premiums change every year, so consumer advocates say beneficiaries should check their plan during open enrollment, from Oct. 15 to Dec. 7, and seek better deals if they're not satisfied.

This year, the average premium also went up by $1, after three stable years.


Additional Updates:

The Subtle Art of the Sales Follow-Up


blog pic

Everything that happens after your customer says “yes” is what separates sales leaders from the rest of the pack. In many cases a salesperson will work for weeks or months to secure a piece of business Then the real work begins: delivering on your promises. You can be awesome in sales, and you can be a great closer, but it is far more difficult to get repeat business and referrals if you don’t excel in the art of follow-up.

Five Critical Elements of Follow-Up

    • Be a finisher; take steps to ensure that the installation of your solution is completed successfully, down to the last detail. For some reason, average salespeople tend to slack off once the order is received, while great salespeople actually redouble their efforts. It is critical to ensure that your customers get exactly what they agreed to, and that you deliver on everything you promised. Make sure things happen exactly how and when you said they would! The pay-off is enormous when customers observe that you are someone who takes care of business, which, frankly, many salespeople don’t do.
    • Don’t run and hide; make sure you are accessible during delivery and implementation. Future sales are often sacrificed because the delivery of a product/service is rife with minor issues (including poor communication) that erode the trust you have worked so hard to develop. This can largely be avoided by overseeing the process and being proactive in communicating with the customer. After a sale is made, poor salespeople take longer to return calls, answer questions, and deal with issues, which – from the customers’ perspective – is tantamount to saying, “All I really care about is my commission.” Never fail to be visible and to communicate proactively.
    • Stand up and be counted; take ownership of any problems that arise. Once a sale is made, salespeople can easily be intimidated by customer complaints. No one likes confrontation or conflict, but when issues surface, great salespeople see an opportunity to validate the customer’s decision to buy from them rather than a competitor. Poor salespeople, however, pass the blame to others – the shipping department or accounting, for example – and fail to take responsibility for solving the problem. The result is a significant loss of credibility in the eyes of the customer. Remember, to the customer, YOU are the company. If you fail to take responsibility, handle the problem, and ensure the customer is satisfied, you substantially jeopardize future opportunities.
    • Be grateful; never, EVER forget the two most important words you know: “Thank you.” Gratitude is an extremely powerful emotion – for both the giver and the receiver. Tell customers you appreciate them. Thank them for the opportunity to contribute to their successes. There is absolutely no downside, and there is considerable upside. They feel good. You feel good. The relationship is strengthened. Since it requires very little effort, and costs absolutely nothing, it is simply inexcusable to fail to thank a customer for doing business with you.
    • Become invaluable; begin the personal marketing process. Great salespeople sell much more than a product or service; they sell themselves. To do that, they look for ways to benefit the customer beyond the products or services they provide. They create connections and deliver resources that provide additional value to the customer. This process is called “personal marketing” – the practice of reinforcing your personal brand and elevating your value to the customer. Connect your customers to other key contacts in your network. Seek out information that customers find useful and then deliver it. As opportunities arise introduce new ideas, and new product or service applications, into your customer’s business. Having done well in the first four elements of follow-up, becoming a resource to your customer is the icing on the cake.


Additional Updates:

Risks In Retirement: Don't Forget About Health Care Costs


blog pic

“What’s the biggest risk to your financial security in retirement?” Whenever I ask that question, what I hear most often is that people are concerned about whether or not their money will last. Many pre-retirees don’t budget for unexpected medical expenses that can pose a threat to their retirement income plan. The Employee Benefit Research Institute estimates that a couple, both 65, retiring today with median prescription drug expenses needs $151,000 (in today’s dollars) to have a 50 percent chance of meeting their health care costs in retirement, not including long-term care costs. A couple with $255,000 in savings would have a 90 percent chance of covering those costs.

Why the Disconnect?
In my experience, many pre-retirees mistakenly believe that Medicare, the federal health insurance program for those aged 65 and older, will cover the vast majority of their health care expenses in retirement. Not so.

In reality, Medicare doesn’t cover many of the health care expenses older Americans use most. I’m talking about vision and dental care, hearing aids and eyeglasses. And Medicare Part D plans vary widely when it comes to prescription coverage. I remember feeling sticker shock when I helped my mom and stepdad pay their monthly pharmacy bill. Millions of Americans take blood pressure, diabetes, arthritis and other commonly prescribed medications to stay healthy and out of the hospital. These aren’t health care costs you can dial back on to save money.

Offer Your Clients Competitive Dental, Vision, & Hearing Plans


Additional Updates:

2015 Medicare Advantage Sneak Peek


Medicare Supplements

PSM has received the 2015 proposed benefits for two of our top MA-PD carriers. Aetna / Coventry and UnitedHealthcare®. Both companies are offering strong offerings for 2015 with many zero premium areas. Contact us today to make sure you have these companies in your portfolio for the upcoming Enrollment window.

Request Details


Additional Updates:
  • 2015 Proposed Medicare Advantage Plan Benefits and Certification Details Now Available. Contact a Marketing Representative today at 800-998-7715.

Gingrich's Correct Prediction About Medicare's Future


Medicare Supplements

On Oct. 24, 1995, Newt Gingrich made an assertion about what would happen to Medicare if its beneficiaries could choose between it and private plans. Medicare is “going to wither on the vine because we think people are voluntarily going to leave it — voluntarily.” Over the nearly two decades since, Mr. Gingrich’s claim has undergone something of a test — and it has largely passed it.

Today, 30 percent of Medicare beneficiaries are enrolled in a Medicare Advantage plan, more than at any time in history. What explains the growing popularity of private Medicare plans? One answer is that baby boomers, who are just entering Medicare-eligibility age, are more accustomed to the types of insurance Medicare Advantage offers, such as H.M.O.s, than their predecessors were.

Given a choice between traditional Medicare or more benefits from more highly subsidized private plans, Medicare beneficiaries may well be willing to let the former wither on the vine.


Additional Updates:
  • 2015 Medicare Advantage Plan Benefits and Certification Details Coming Soon

Happy Independence Day from PSM


Medicare Supplements

In honor of our country and forefathers, we've gathered a few classic patriotic quotes for you to take in during this 4th of July holiday.

As a reminder, PSM will be closing Thursday at noon and will be closed all day Friday in observance of the holiday.

"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness."
                                                                       - Thomas Jefferson

"They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety."
                                                                       - Benjamin Franklin

"Idleness and pride tax with a heavier hand than kings and parliaments. If we can get rid of the former, we may easily bear the latter."
                                                                       - Benjamin Franklin

"I am well aware of the toil and blood and treasure it will cost us to maintain this declaration, and support and defend these states. Yet through all the gloom I see the rays of ravishing light and glory. I can see that the end is worth all the means. This is our day of deliverance."
                                                                       - John Adams

"We must all hang together, or assuredly we shall all hang separately."
                                                                       - Benjamin Franklin

Additional Updates:

12 Things to Know About Seniors and Retirement


Medicare Supplements

They are seniors who haven’t retired yet because they like to work; they are still paying for the house of their dreams; they won’t downsize their homes; and they believe that the 2008 economic crisis has made them stay longer in the workforce. However, they are optimistic about pulling through and having enough on their retirement plan.

These results are part of Retirement Advisor’s 2014 Senior Survey, which interviewed more than 200 seniors. The survey revealed that 60 percent of seniors have financial advisors, and 64 percent of them look primarily for an advisor they can trust. In contrast, 78 percent said that they dislike or avoid advisors who are too pushy, while 10 percent said they avoid those who are too expensive.

According to the survey, a whooping 56 percent are confident or very confident that their current financial and health conditions will help them meet their retirement goals, while 30 percent are somewhat confident. Just nine percent are not confident they will meet their financial retirement goals.

And how did the economic downturn affect seniors' plans? While 42 percent didn't specify or selected "other," 31 percent noted it kept them working longer than they would like, 18 percent said that it made them lose faith in financial institutions, and nine percent said they had to turn their 401(k) into a 201(k).

12 things about seniors retirement



Additional Updates:
All Posts