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Medicare Blog | Medicare News | Medicare Information

New Medicare Brochure Ignites Political Firestorm

Posted by Richard Ybarra on Fri, May 28, 2010 @ 10:41 AM

Medicare Brochure

Earlier this week, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) dispatched a four-page brochure to 40 million senior citizens that explains how the new health care law will affect the Medicare program. The content of the tax payer funded Medicare brochure has Republican politicians incensed and calling for an investigation by the Government Accountability Office (GAO).

Several Republican senators describe the Medicare brochure as misleading and a form of government propaganda constituting an illegal use of tax-payer funds. At the heart of the controversy are statements in the brochure that allegedly promise savings and increased quality health care. The brochure uses the words “improves” and “improvements” eight times, which imply the superiority of the reforms over the old system.

Republican politicians are still very skeptical about the impact of the health reform law, and view the claims made in the brochure as unsubstantiated, as no one can say for sure that the provisions of the reform law will result in an improvement. Republicans are saying the mailing was sent out as a tool ahead of mid-term elections to garner crucial votes from seniors. In addition to the GAO investigation, Republicans on the Ways and Means Committee are asking HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius to halt distribution of the brochure until the investigation is complete.

Ironically, this situation was reversed six years ago. According to NPR, during that time George W. Bush’s administration sent out correspondence with the aim of educating seniors about a new Medicare prescription drug law passed at the time with mostly Republican votes. Democrats were outraged and called for investigations by the GAO. The investigations led to findings that the mailings were “misleading” and that public money was essentially used to make fake news. Then and now, both administrations claim the need to inform seniors about crucial changes to the Medicare program as justification for the mailings.


View the Medicare brochure

Precision Senior Marketing wishes you a great holiday weekend filled with fun and relaxation. Our offices will be closed on Memorial day and resume normal operating hours on Tuesday, June 1. Should you have any urgent issues, e-mail info@psmbrokerage.com.

Sources: NPR, Politico, The Hill

Tags: senior market blog, senior market news, Medicare Advantage, Medicare, Medicare Supplement, Medicare Discussion, Medicare News, senior insurance market news

New Medical Technology Increasing Medicare Spending

Posted by Richard Ybarra on Fri, May 21, 2010 @ 11:17 AM

medicare spending increase

 Kaiser Health News has an excellent article on how Medicare costs are increasing rapidly in traditionally low cost areas. The article focuses on the city of Provo, Utah where residents are among the healthiest in the country and its largest hospital is operated by Intermountain Healthcare, an organization praised by President Obama for providing high quality care at reasonable costs. Despite these factors, spending on Medicare patients has increased significantly in the last few years.


According to experts cited in the article, the major reason for this spike in spending is the use of expensive, new technologies, (such as the use of robotics for surgery) many of which are said to introduce little to no improvement over traditional methods. They go on to say that competition forces hospitals to adopt the latest technology, as patients always want the “best” care, which they equate to new technology. The new health care law is only going to exacerbate this problem. Now that reimbursement will be tied to quality health care, not only will hospitals be pressured to use the latest tools and techniques, but they most likely will extend patient stays, and use more aggressive (and expensive) treatments at earlier stages of illnesses.


The article goes on to say that what is happening in Provo, Utah is also happening in other traditionally low cost areas of the nation. The biggest concern among experts in the field is that these spikes are indicative of what will happen throughout the country as more hospitals begin to focus on higher quality care for Medicare patients, just at a more severe level.


Medicare Reimbursements Per Enrollee Interactive Map


CMS Will Spend $73 million to Upgrade its Websites

CGI Federal Inc. was awarded a five-year, $73.2 million contract to upgrade and continue maintenance of Medcare.gov, cms.hhs.gov, and MyMedicare.gov.  Together these sites see 500 million page views each year and provide information to 44 million beneficiaries and millions of other health care providers.

Tags: senior market blog, senior market news, Medicare Advantage, Medicare, Medicare Supplement, Senior Market, Medicare Discussion, Medicare News, senior insurance market news, CMS

5 Great Reasons to Incorporate Screen Sharing into Your Sales Process

Posted by Richard Ybarra on Fri, May 14, 2010 @ 04:38 PM

Gerber life Medicare Supplement

With the growing popularity of the phone & Internet sales process among senior insurance agents across the country, many are seeking out solutions to enhance the experience for both agents and consumers.  One solution that is being used to great success by many of our top producing agents is screen sharing software. 

For those of you who are unfamiliar with screen sharing software, it is software that you either install on your computer or access through a website that allows you to display whatever is on your Internet-connected computer onto other Internet-connected computers.  Additionally, most screen sharing software also allows you to grant permission for your audience to take control of your computer.  These two functions can also be reversed, so that you can view and control another Internet-connected computer.  Instant messaging, VOIP (talking), video conferencing, and file sharing are other features that may be included with screen sharing software to give you the ultimate communication tool.

If you haven’t yet looked into incorporating screen sharing software into your sales and other business processes, we highly recommend that you do.  Here’s why:

Increased interactivity with clients:  The biggest benefit is the interactivity that screen sharing allows.  No longer does your audience have to just sit and stare at a monitor throughout your whole presentation.  Your clients can actively take control of whatever program or file is on your computer (that you determine) and vice versa.  Your audience’s attention to the presentation will be much greater, and they’ll appreciate the more “in-home feel” without you actually being there.

More dynamic, engaging presentations:  No longer are you confined to just a PowerPoint presentation.  Since you have computer control throughout the entire presentation, you can make your presentations more dynamic by bringing up and showing various files based on the custom needs of the client.  Website, videos, music, and other files can all be presented whenever and however you want in real-time.  Then combine this with the IM, VOIP, and video conferencing features of most screen sharing software, and you have all the tools you need to give a highly engaging presentation.

Better reinforcement of training / education:  If you are experienced with giving more educational presentations, you know the challenge of getting your audience to remember what was actually taught.  A good example of this is getting seniors to remember many of the important points about their policies, or about the Medicare program in general.  Screen sharing isn’t going to solve the problem, but it can help improve the learning experience by allowing you to present periodic reinforcement activities.  Web based questionnaires are a great tool to accomplish this.  With the real-time feedback on their performance you can adapt your presentation accordingly to make it more effective.

Reduction of application errors:   Rework is something I think everyone can agree is bad for both business and our mental health.  With screen sharing you can ensure zero defects on applications as you can walk a client through an application, seeing exactly what they are typing.  The amount of time and money saved by eliminating application errors can be very significant over time, and that is just for the app process.  I’m sure you will find many areas in your business where such technology can eliminate further rework.

Better evaluation of the sales process:  Yet another great benefit of many screen sharing software is that you can record your sessions.  By recording your sessions you can evaluate what went right and what went wrong, and then use that data to improve your future presentations.  And after you record that perfect presentation, you can use that video as a training tool for others in your business, post it to your website to keep visitors longer, or even post it to YouTube and have it show up in the search engines to generate traffic to your site. Of course, always remember to follow HIPPA regulations and other common courtesies when recording, broadcasting, and disseminating information.

Tags: Sales Tips, Senior Market Advice, Senior Market Success, senior market blog, senior market news, Web Marketing Advice, Senior Market, senior insurance market news, Referrals, Leads, Quality Management

New Medicare Advantage Enrollment Periods

Posted by Richard Ybarra on Mon, May 10, 2010 @ 04:56 PM

Starting in the fall of 2011, the Annual Election Period (AEP) will take place beginning October 15 and run through December 7.  This is a change from the current schedule of November 15 to December 31.  

Then on January 1, 2011, the Open Enrollment Period (OEP) will be eliminated.  As many of you already know, this period allowed beneficiaries to switch between “like” plans from January 1 to March 31 each year.

Also in 2011, the first Baby Boomers start to age into Medicare. There are 45 million Medicare eligibles in the country today, and by 2020 that number will grow to over 60 million. If you have any questions regarding these changes, please call us at 1-800-998-7715 or e-mail to info@psmbrokerage.com.

Source: Bravo Health

Tags: Medicare Advantage, Medicare Discussion, Medicare News, Medicare Advantage News, Medicare Sales, Medicare Advice, Medicare Solutions

New Medicare Supplement Policies Continue to Grow

Posted by Richard Ybarra on Fri, May 07, 2010 @ 12:05 PM

Gerber life Medicare Supplement

According to Mark Farrah Associates, a healthcare data aggregator and publisher, the number of newer policies issued over the last three years increased by 1.25% in 2009 when compared to the 2008 base. MFA reports that this continued growth of the Med Supp market is an encouraging sign for Medigap-based organizations looking to capitalize on the new modernized plans taking effect June 1, 2010.


The MFA article also provides other updated Med Supp information from 2009, such as breakdowns of Plan popularity (Plan F still rules), number of carries and plans, premium and claim amount comparisons, and overall carrier market share. Click here to view the article in its entirety.


Many Seniors not in the Best Medicare Advantage Plans


A study released by Avalere Health, a major consulting firm, reports that 47% of seniors on Medicare are in MA plans that rate three or two stars on Medicare’s quality rating scale. Three stars equal medium quality, and two stars equal fair quality. Also, only 23% of seniors on Medicare were enrolled in four to five star rated plans. According to Avalere, these quality ratings will become much more important due to the new health care law passed, as Medicare payments will now be tied to quality. More specifically, beginning in 2012, the new health care law mandates Medicare to award bonuses to four star or better plans. Click here for the full article.


Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB) to Cap Medicare Spending


James Capretta of the Ethics and Public Policy Center says “Medicare spending is now officially capped.” He points out that the IPAB, a 15-member independent panel appointed by the president and confirmed by the Senate, is responsible for enforcing an upper limit on annual Medicare spending growth. Mr. Capretta goes on to give a good, thought-provoking assessment of the impact the IPAB will have on the Medicare market.


He is generally against using payment cuts as a way of addressing Medicare’s rising costs stating “Certainly, more of the same payment rate reductions will not do it. Medicare’s chief actuary has already said that the payment cuts in the health reform law are unsustainable because they don’t change the cost structure for those providing care. In a very real sense, seniors will be the ones holding the bag from these cuts when they can’t access care due to a lack of willing suppliers.” Read the full article here.

Tags: senior market blog, senior market news, Medicare Advantage, Medicare, Medicare Supplement, Medicare Discussion, Medicare News, Medicare Advantage News, Medicare Solutions

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