This week the federal regulation allowing Medicare to pay for end-of-life counseling (also called “death panels” by critics) has been reversed, in order to make sure all of the stakeholders had a say in the decision. The regulation was passed in November but people were not allowed to comment until January 3rd. Under this reversal doctors can still talk to their patients about end-of-life plans; however, they will not be paid by Medicare for the discussion. Supporters say advanced planning should be included in Medicare’s new annual well visit, it is important to encourage those with Medicare to plan ahead, and the service adds value to the Medicare benefit. Those opposed say this discussion is highly personal and the government should not be a part of the process. This reversal comes a week before the House is set to vote to repeal President Obama’s health care overhaul.
What do you think of this reversal? Do you think end-of-life planning is important or should the government stay out of it?
CVS Caremark to Buy Universal American’s Medicare Prescription Drug Business
Last week, CVS Caremark purchased Universal American’s Medicare Part D business for eight times the operating earnings. This buy-out more than doubles the size of CVS Caremark’s 1.2 million drug plan members; and, the addition of the 1.9 million that have United American makes CVS Caremark a major competitor in a short period of time. Universal American’s stock shares soared over 40% after the news of the deal was announced on Thursday, December 30th, and those stock holders can expect to receive between $12.80 and $13.00 per share for the business. Meanwhile, CVS’s shares values remain the same. The Universal American acquisition makes CVS Caremark a larger competitor to health insurers like UnitedHealth Group, Inc. and Humana, Inc. Also, the merge comes in time for the Baby Boomer generation to begin receiving Medicare benefits, the anticipated shift from employer coverage to Medicare in those who are retired, and Walgreens, CVS’s main competitor and the #1 drug store chain in America, trying to get out of the pharmacy business. Supporters of the acquisition also say that this merger will benefit CVS stores as well, with more people going into the store to pick up their prescriptions and possibly other items they might have gone elsewhere for otherwise.
How do you feel about this buy out? How do you think this will affect your Medicare Part D business?
Beginning Internet Prospecting: Do You Have Any Questions?
It’s bound to have come up at some point in your agency business, either a client asks you for your agency URL, you’re looking for a new way to get leads, or you need a place to share all of your industry knowledge. In the last few years, the internet has completely changed the way we interact and it’s now vital for business to establish an up-to-date internet presence. Fortunately, it’s now easier than ever to get started. Several template-based, user friendly, Content Management System (CMS) website platforms are available for you to use, with little to no HTML or coding knowledge. We at Precision Senior Marketing use Hubspot; however, Joomla, Intuit, and Wordpress (as well as several others) are also good options. Or, if you do not have the time to create your website yourself, you can hire a graphic design or marketing firm team of professionals to create something completely custom to your agency. It is important to remember your website should be professional, give a great first impression, and be a reflection of who you are as an agent. New to selling Medicare Supplements? Mastering the art of Medicare Supplements is a great place to start.
Once you have a website filled with content about you, your agency, your contact information, Medicare Supplement products, and possibly an online form for requesting a Medicare Supplement quote you need to spread the word about your online presence. One suggestion is Search Engine Optimization (SEO), which is a series of techniques used to have your website appear in searches. You might consider learning more yourself about the techniques involved or hiring a SEO professional to help you. Other suggestions are social networking (through Twitter, Facebook, ect), blogging, and Pay-Per-Click search. It is important to note that ranking in the top search engines does not happen overnight nor can you set a specific date as to when you will see the rankings you want. Search engines use a complex system of algorithms to determine which sites show up in which position. Keyword density, age of URL, and relevancy all factor in to making your site appear early in the search results for the keywords you are targeting.
How has internet prospecting helped your agency? Do you have any questions about getting your own website, Search Engine Optimization, Pay-Per-Click, Social Networking, Blogging, or E-Blasting? Let us know in the comments! Questions submitted will be answered on future blogs.
United of Omaha Phase VI - CA, CO, KS, ME, NE, NJ, and SD
United of Omaha has proposed NEW Medicare Supplement rates for California, Colorado, Kansas, Maine, Nebraska, New Jersey, and South Dakota, tentatively effective 02/01/2011 (pending state approval). With Ultra-competitive rates, excellent commissions and a name your clients will know and trust, this is an opportunity you cannot afford to pass up. Partner with PSM and ensure you have the most competitive edge in the Senior Market. Request more information now or call 1-800-998-7715 for more information.
Sentinel Life Rate Increase for Louisiana
Effective for all Louisiana applications signed on or after January 14, 2011 there are new rates for Sentinel Life Medicare Supplement LA and Sentinel Life Medicare Select LA. Call 1-800-998-7715 to get contracted with Sentinel Life.
Sources: KHN, Reuters, Agent’s Sales Journal, Politico, The Associated Press