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The healthcare dispute restarted this week in Congress with a two day debate. Two minute speeches by both Republicans and Democrats were given, explaining where they and their party stand with the Health Care Law and the repercussions such law could have on the physicians, patients, and the American deficit. Republicans argue it will eliminate 1.6 million jobs and Democrats say it will create jobs. However, both are correct possibilities, some jobs might be eliminated by employers fearing high insurance costs; at the same time, other people will be hired to run the new health care programs. Another dispute is the national debt, which Republicans argue will create more national debt and the Democrats say the health care laws will reduce the deficit by $230 billion in the next 10 years. With the deficit, the truth lies in whether Congress can control Medicare and Medicaid spending, which could lead to lower physician payments and healthcare provider restrictions. The Republican’s strongest argument is that by insuring those who are currently uninsured will be too costly for some small businesses and taxpayers; whereas, the Democrat’s strongest argument is consumer protections, like keeping children on their parent’s insurance until they are 26.
What do you think are the strongest arguments for or against the Health Care Law? When do you think House and Congress will come to a consensus?
Brian Tracy’s Laws of Sales Success
Brian Tracy, author of Psychology of Selling, which has become a bestselling audio program on sales, was interviewed by Paul Feldman for the January 2011 issue of InsuranceNewsNet. In the interview Brian Tracy shares his how-to’s of improving your business and your life. Tracy first states that time management separates winners in the sales market from losers. When you get more done, make more calls, and close more business you are deliberately managing your time. His tips are to plan your day in advance, prioritize your list, choose the most important task, and start the most important task and work until it is complete. This will give you a sense of personal accomplishment, self-esteem, and self-confidence.
Have you heard of Brian Tracy? Have you ever attended one of his seminars or read any of his books?
Woodmen of the World Released in Colorado
Mutual of Omaha 2012 Convention Information
Details released for the Mutual of Omaha 2012 convention in Laguna Beach, CA based on the business you place with Mutual of Omaha as a Broker Producer (personal production only) between January 1 and December 31 2011. See the Mutual of Omaha2012 convention website for more information.
Sources: KHN, LA Times, NY Times, InsuranceNewsNet
As part of the new health care reform law that went into effect January 1st, a Medical Loss Ratio (MLR) was instituted stating insurance companies must spend at least 80% of premiums on medical expenses in the under-age market, with the remaining 20% being shared with administrative costs. These new health reform rules will cut insurance brokers’ pay by 50% in some cases, effecting nearly 470,000 under-age market agents. Reports show commissions will drop from 15 to 20% on plans to 4 to 10%; and, for Blue Cross which used to pay 15% on the first year and 7% on residuals the following years will now pay 5% for both. Meanwhile, Golden Rule, owned by UnitedHealthCare is offering their brokers a per application bonus, understanding the cuts in commissions. By 2014, even without the MLR regulations, consumers will be able to find and obtain health insurance plans easily on their own. Under new health care regulations insurance agents, negotiating rates for those with pre-existing conditions, will be unnecessary. Health insurance companies will no longer be able to deny coverage based on conditions; therefore, making under-age insurance agent less and less vital for sales. Also in 2014, almost 32 million Americans will have insurance under the health care laws and MLR will negatively impact the way the public uses health care, with potential job loss due to lower commissions at a time when consumers need the most help because of all the changes. Critics argue smaller companies may go out of business, agents will see more cuts in compensation, and there will be reduced service quality to the consumer. Supporters say that industries are always changing and compare the change in the insurance industry to that of travel agents. Even though a lot of people buy their travel arrangements unassisted online there is still need for a travel agent. Now under-age insurance agents will just have to find their niche in the new insurance environment.
If you also work in the under-age market, have these lower commissions already affected you? Do you believe the result of MLR will be a drastic decline in service or do you think things will level off quickly, like with the travel industry?
Low Clearance by Mike Keefe
Has the influx of Boomers helped your Medicare Supplement business? How are you preparing for the boost in those interested in Medicare Supplements?
Medicare "Wellness Visit" Check List
As of the first of 2011 Medicare beneficiaries are able to go to one “wellness visit” a year completely covered by Medicare. This new part of the health care law reflects that medicine needs to focus on prevention rather than waiting until the patient is sick. Dr. Eddie Phillips, director of the Institute of Lifestyle Medicine at Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital, has outlined what patients can expect at their wellness visit this year. First, the doctor will conduct a screening of a patient’s cognitive skills, depression, and risk of falling. They will develop a Personalized Prevention Plan talking about your diet, exercise, vaccinations, sleep, and stress; and, work to coordinate all of you caregivers. Also, you can choose to have a voluntary discussion of your end-of-life choices, getting a plan in place and having your wishes known. Dr. Phillips hopes this wellness visit will help people make lifestyle choices that will positively affect their health and health care costs.
What do you think of the new “wellness visit” provided by Medicare? Have either you or one of your clients partaken of yours this year? Was it a valuable benefit?
Foresters Prepared Accident Death Term Life InsuranceForesters Prepared offers up to $300,000 in coverage with no medical exam and only a few health/lifestyle questions. It also offers extra-cost riders for disability income (accident only), waiver of premium (accident only) and return of premium. Contact PSM or call us 1-800-998-7715 to request information.
Woodmen of the World/Assured Life MADP Guidelines and Iowa Rate Increase NotificationNew Medicare Advantage Disenrollment Period (MADP): MA members are allowed to make one change during this period of January 1, 2011 to February 14, 2011 with an effective date of disenrollment after January 1, 2011.
Effective March 1, 2011 please see the rate increase notification for Iowa.
Sources: KHN, Politico, The Denver Post, CommonHealth
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.
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.
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.
United of Omaha Phase VI - CA, CO, KS, ME, NE, NJ, and SDUnited 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 LouisianaEffective 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