With no major developments occurring in our industry this week, we thought this would be an opportune time to update you on developments occurring here as we strive to bring our agents the best products, tools, information, and community. At PSM we not only focus on agent recruiting, but also on agent retention. As such, we want to hear from you on what we can do to help you further your business productivity, from Web site features to administrative services.
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Continuing education credits are a necessity for our agents, so we've joined with 360Training.com to give our agents a discount on online CE courses. Now you can get your CE credits from wherever you have an internet connection. I want to learn more
Lead generation is yet another high-demand service. As such, we have partnered with multiple companies to offer discounts and competitive pricing on an array of lead generation products and services. We are proud to announce our newest partnership with The Directory, Inc., a company that has a wealth of experience, many satisfied customers, and an informative Web site. Let me check them out
Incentives are key in motivating our agents to maximize the potential of the senior market. Despite the current recession, where others are cutting costs, PSM continues to invest in its agents by rewarding superior performance. This time we've partnered with Mutual of Omaha to offer an amazing, 4-day port of choice cruise for agents that place $63,000 in premiums with any of the Mutual companies between May 15 and August 15. For more information call 1-800-998-7715.
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According to the Associated Press, the Treasury department has decided to provide roughly $22 billion in Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) funds to six life insurers that include: The Hartford Financial Services Group Inc., Lincoln National Corp., Allstate Corp., Ameriprise Financial Inc., Principle Financial Group Inc., and Prudential Financial Inc.
Thus far, the only specified amounts made public are that The Hartford can receive up to $3.4 billion, and Lincoln National has been approved for $2.5 billion. These funds will be used to purchase illiquid assets that have wreaked havoc with the aforementioned insurers' investment portfolios, as well as provide the necessary capital levels to avoid expensive downgrades from ratings agencies. Though the TARP wasn't originally intended to include life insurers, TARP officials believe that since life insurers own 18% of all corporate bonds, providing them with assistance is consistent with the program's goal of correcting credit markets.
The news that such insurers were eligible to receive TARP funds rallied insurance stocks from their low point on March 6. Now that the funds have been officially approved, stock prices of the aforementioned insurers have begun to increase and will most likely continue to do so going forward. Currently, the TARP fund in general has about $110 billion left (out of $700 billion) according to Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner.
It will be interesting to see how the aforementioned companies perform compared to other insurers who either rejected or were denied TARP funds, such as MetLife and Genworth Financial respectively. This begs the question: Do companies receiving TARP funds have an unfair competitive advantage? Granted, TARP funds are like any other type of loan that has to be paid back, but considering that such loans couldn't have been obtained in the free market, it could be perceived as disrupting the natural competitive environment. Regardless, receiving TARP funds isn't a free get-out-of-financial-jail pass, so the most important factor will be what these companies do with the money and how they manage their financial recoveries. It looks like only time will tell if this is a justified expenditure of our tax dollars.
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2010 continues to shape up as the year of change, as this week saw both Coventry Health Care Inc. and WellCare Health Plans, Inc. announce the end to their Medicare Advantage private fee-for-service (PFFS) contracts as of January 1, 2010. Both companies cited the Obama administration's policy to cut payments to Medicare Advantage insurers as the primary reason, as well as a government mandate that such insurers will need to develop networks starting in 2011.
428,000 customers now need to find new coverage. Currently, Coventry has 318,000 customers under its PFFS Medicare Advantage plan, while WellCare has 110,000 under its plan. It will be interesting to see if other PFFS Medicare Advantage providers will attempt to pick up these customers, or drop their own PFFS plans due to the significant increase in costs caused by new government polices.
If you are, or were, an agent of one of these customers, what do or would you recommend as the best course of action? Should they stay with a similar plan, but with a different provider, change to another plan with the same provider, or change to another plan with a different provider?
If you're an agent contracted with PSM to offer Coventry's Medicare Advantage products and need advice on what to recommend, call us at 1-800-998-7715.
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The big news this week was the announcement of changes to Medicare supplement insurance standards by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. The changes are detailed in the Federal Register / Vol. 74, No. 78 / Friday, April 24, 2009 / Notices document. The following changes apply to Medigap plans with policy years beginning on or after June 1, 2010:
These changes have created two sets of standardized plans which are known as the "1990 standardized plans" for plans with an effective date of coverage prior to June 1, 2010, and "2010 standardized plans" for those after. For those of you who are compelled to know the many details of the changes, click here. In the near future, once everyone has had some time to digest this information, we will post a blog regarding the implications of these important changes.
Tags: Senior Market Advice, Senior Market Success, senior market blog, senior market news, Health Insurance, Medicare, Medicare Supplement, Senior Market, Medicare Discussion, Medicare News, senior insurance market news, health insurance news, health insurance industry, insurance news, Medicare Advantage News, Medicare Sales, industry news, Medicare Advice, Medicare Solutions