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Medicare Blog | Medicare News | Medicare Information

PSM Community Update - May 2009

Posted by Richard Ybarra on Fri, May 22, 2009 @ 03:59 PM

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.

Online Contracting
Our most popular tool, online contracting from PSM dramatically improves the convenience of contracting with the competitive carriers that we represent. Now you can contract with multiple companies through an easy 3-step process that takes about 10 minutes and only requires a 1-page fax. Find out more

Med Supp by Phone
Ever wonder how the top producers do it? Its simple - they leverage the latest technology to service a national market. Through a combination of old and new (phone and internet), top producers are selling Medicare supplement products from the Mutual of Omaha companies throughout the United States without ever leaving their offices. Let us show you how

UnitedHealthcare Med Supp & Med Adv Now Available
PSM is proud to now offer what is arguably the most popular medicare supplement product from the nation's leading, senior-oriented non-profit organization. This product is underwritten by UnitedHealthcare, one of the biggest and most stable insurance companies on the market. Tell me more

Poll of the Week
We're really excited about his one. Ever wonder just how many agents think the same way you do on a particular controversial issue? Well now you can find out with our new Poll of the Week feature. Each week we will pose a question or topic that you can vote on. Every Friday we will calculate and post the results from the previous week's poll, as well as post a new poll question. You also have the option to comment on your vote if you feel the need to elaborate on how you feel on a given topic. I will post select comments along with the results. Take me there

Hot or Not Industry News
Yet another cool feature, we now have a page that links to the latest, most relevant news articles on the Web. Additionally, you can vote on each article, as well as make comments. Your votes will either push a given article up or down on the list. Articles will be ordered in terms of popularity. Since our blog is focused only on the biggest industry developments each week, we have added this feature to bring you other recent developments that you may find informative to read about and comment on. Let me vote

Social Media
PSM is now on the three major social networking sites LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter. In addition to our company page, we have also created the Senior Insurance Agents Group on both LinkedIn and Facebook. This is a great way to directly communicate with other agents throughout the states and to show your affiliation with the insurance for the exploding senior market.

LinkedIn Senior Insurance Agents Page

Facebook Senior Insurance Agents Page

Twitter Page

New Partnerships
When a particular service to our agents falls outside our scope of business, PSM partners with the best companies.

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.

Blog Views
Considering our blog has only been live for about 3 months now, we are proud to say that each week we average about 800 page views and are continuing to see growth as word spreads. So for those of you wondering whether anyone reads your comments, well, now you know your potential audience.

Last Thing (We Promise)
In observance of Memorial Day, PSM will be closed on Monday, May 25. Have a great three-day weekend, and thank you for tuning in each week. We hope you find our blog posts to be both informative and intellectually stimulating.

Tags: Success Tips, Senior Market Advice, Senior Market Success, senior market blog, Medicare Advantage, Health Insurance, Medicare, Medicare Supplement, Senior Market, Customer Retention, health insurance industry, insurance news, Customer Service, Exciters

$22 Billion in TARP Funds Going to 6 Life Insurers

Posted by Richard Ybarra on Fri, May 15, 2009 @ 10:18 AM

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.

Tags: senior market blog, senior market news, Health Insurance, Senior Market, senior insurance market news, health insurance news, health insurance industry, insurance news, industry news, insurance companies, insurance bailout

428,000 Medicare Advantage Customers Need New Coverage in 2010

Posted by Richard Ybarra on Fri, May 08, 2009 @ 10:27 AM

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.

Tags: Senior Market Advice, Senior Market Success, senior market blog, senior market news, Medicare Advantage, 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, Medicare Advice, insurance companies, Medicare Solutions

Medicare Supplement Standards To Change in 2010

Posted by Richard Ybarra on Fri, May 01, 2009 @ 03:45 PM

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:


  • Issuers are prohibited from denying or conditioning the issuance or effectiveness of a policy, or discriminating in the pricing of the policy based on an individual's genetic information; also, issuers are prohibited from requesting or requiring an individual or family member of an individual to undergo a genetic test.

  • Added Hospice coverage as a Basic ‘‘Core’’ benefit to all plans, as similar coverage was added as a basic benefit in plans ‘‘K’’ and ‘‘L’’.

  • Deleted coverage for Preventive and At-Home Recovery. The NAIC concluded that Medicare Part B has changed to cover many more preventive benefits, and the usefulness of this benefit in a Medigap policy was significantly reduced, covering only part of an annual physical after Medicare covered the beneficiaries’ initial physical. The NAIC also concluded that the At-Home Recovery benefit was confusing and difficult to understand and administer, and changes to Medicare had made this benefit less meaningful.

  • Created a new plan D, which is identical to the current plan D except that the At-Home Recovery benefit was deleted.

  • Created a new plan G, which is identical to the current plan G except that the 80% Medicare Part B Excess charge benefit would be replaced by a 100% Medicare Part B Excess charge benefit, and the At-Home Recovery benefit was deleted.

  • Eliminated the current ‘‘E’’, ‘‘H’’, ‘‘I’’ and ‘‘J’’ plans as they duplicated existing Plans.

  • Created a new plan ‘‘M’’, which duplicates plan D but with a 50% coinsurance on the Part A deductible.

  • Created a new plan ‘‘N’’ which duplicates plan D with the Part B coinsurance being paid at 100%, less a $20 copay per physician visit and a co-pay of $50 per emergency room visit, unless the beneficiary was admitted to the hospital.

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

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