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Medicare Blog | Medicare News | Medicare Information

GAO Calls for End of Medicare Advantage Bonus Program

Posted by Lauren Hidalgo on Fri, Apr 27, 2012 @ 09:43 AM

Medicare SupplementsThis week government auditors called for a cancellation of an $8.3 billion dollar Medicare program that some congressional Republicans think is a political ploy by the Obama administration. The money is going toward a three-year project intended to make quality improvements to Medicare Advantage plans and financially reward those plans that are scoring well by the Department of Health and Human Services. However the Government Accountability Office (GAO), the investigative agency of Congress, uncovered that the plan’s spending "dwarfs" all other Medicare pilots undertaken in the last 20 years. Plus, they found the majority of the money is going to plans earning only three to three-and-half stars, an "average" score.

Available through 2014, these quality bonuses to Medicare Advantage plans will postpone the drastic cuts Medicare Advantage plans will be faced with under the new health care law. However, the GAO questions whether the bonus program will actually be an incentive to promote quality in insurance providers. Defending the bonuses, the Health and Human Services Department issued a statement saying, "the demonstration supports our national strategy to improve the delivery of health care services, patient health outcomes, and population health."

Orrin Hatch, the ranking Republican on the Senate panel which oversees Medicare, questioned if the administration had the legal authority to create the program. Hatch stated, "The White House does not have the authority to green-light spending on whatever program it wants. This report is just the beginning — I will be demanding answers."

Hatch also questioned the Obama administration’s use of a technicality in order to sidestep Congress and "write itself a blank check to spend more money for political purposes leading into this year’s elections." He and other congressional Republicans see the spending as a way to appease seniors, a key constituency of swing voters during this election year.

The Medicare Advantage bonus program is the costliest in Medicare history, with money coming from the Medicare trust fund. Next week the Medicare trustees will be releasing their annual report on the status of the program, which is already facing a long-term financial crunch.

Please give us your feedback!
Do you think President Obama is misusing the $8.3 billion for his own agenda of being re-elected this year? Or do you think the bonus plan is a good incentive to make Medicare Advantage companies to take better care of their policyholders?

Source: CNN, Herald-Tribune

Additional Updates:
  • New Direct Mail Program - $390 per 1,000 - Learn More

Tags: senior market news, Medicare Advantage, health insurance news, Leads, Medicare Advantage News, health care reform

The Art of Selling: Improve Your Closing Ratio

Posted by Lauren Hidalgo on Fri, Apr 20, 2012 @ 09:06 AM

Medicare SupplementsThis is the second in a series of articles which focuses on: Appointment Setting Essentials, An Education Based Sales Presentation & Do the Right Thing - Earning a Customer is More Important than Making a Sale.

  1. Lead Pre Qualification - After receiving a lead or referral, make sure you are gathering all pertinent client information that could influence the sale. Proper lead pre-qualification is commonly overlooked and can have a large impact on your closing ratio. Your time is valuable and should not be wasted with clients that cannot qualify medically or are not in the buying process. We’ve drawn up a Sample Lead Pre-Qualification Form for you to review.

  2. Value Based Selling - If you’re selling strictly on price, you’re inevitably teaching your clients to leave you. In a residual based marketplace, this can be extremely detrimental to your revenue stream. Here are a few things to consider incorporating into your sales philosophy:
    • Educate your client on their options and empower them to make the choice that is best for them. Don’t sell them anything.
    • Let your client know that rates are going to increase annually, especially in the Medicare Supplement and Medicare Advantage markets, and not to be alarmed when they are notified of a rate adjustment in the future.
    • Be proactive. Call your clients when you get notification of a rate adjustment; don’t wait for them to call you. By proactively calling your clients, you can let them know the rate adjustment was moderate and, based on the current market landscape, they still have one of the best products available in their area.

  3. Earning a Customer is More Important than Making a Sale - Situations will arise, no matter how many carriers you represent, in which the best coverage for your client will be with one of your competitors. In these situations, it is in your best interest to communicate this information to your client and provide them with the contact information to purchase coverage through the other carrier. If you sell the client a policy that’s not in their best interest just for the sake of making a sale, these clients end up being more of a headache than it’s worth. Not to mention they’ll tell everyone they know not to purchase insurance through you. On the other hand, if you do the right thing and help your client get the proper coverage, they’ll happily refer several people to you because of how you conduct your business. Word of mouth can be the best or worst advertisement for an insurance agent. Do a good job and clients will tell 3 of their friends, do a lousy job and they tell at least 10.

Last week’s article covered the Presale Basics: Dressing for Success, Proper Hygiene and Appearance and Punctuality.

Next week’s article will cover Increasing Your Closing Ratio, Cross Marketing Opportunities, How to Obtain Referrals and Technologies to Help Grow Your Business, primarily with CRM and website development.


Additional Updates:
  • Woodmen of the World Address Change & Material Updates - Learn More
  • Assured Life Med Supp Rate Adjustment for AL, OK, and Supp/SELECT for TX - Learn More

Tags: Sales Tips, Senior Market Success, Customer Retention, Assured Life Medicare Supplement, Woodmen of the World Medicare Supplement, Creating Value, Customer Service

The Art of Selling: Presale Basics

Posted by Lauren Hidalgo on Fri, Apr 13, 2012 @ 09:53 AM

Medicare SupplementsThis is the first in a series of articles aimed at helping agents develop their craft and build long term, sustainable success.

In today’s sales environment, many clients will shop around for insurance and meet with several agents before making their final decision. With that being said, it is now more important than ever to make sure you’re leading with your best foot forward! This article covers a few areas that might seem like common sense but we felt they were worth reiterating. The subsequent articles will focus more on The Sale, Increasing Your Closing Ratio, Cross Marketing Opportunities, Obtaining Referrals and How Technology Can Enhance Your Business.

  1. Dress for Success - if a client meets with two insurance agents, both possessing a good understanding of the marketplace but one agent is dressed and acts more professionally then the other, the more professional agent will get the sale 9 times out of 10.
    • An insurance agent’s attire should be professional but it should also be dictated by the markets they serve. If you work in rural areas or primarily with blue collar clientele wearing a 3 piece suit might not be in your best interest.
    • For most agents, wearing a suit or a tie with a sport coat is a safe way to ensure you make a positive first impression.
    • You can find nice suits at very affordable prices these days. A couple places to check out are: Macy’s, JC Penny and Overstock just to name a few.

  2. Proper Appearance and Hygiene - people still judge a book by its cover, and we judge other people by what we see on the outside. Choosing to ignore common personal grooming habits may indicate to those around you that you do not take pride in your work because you don't take pride in your appearance.
  3. Punctuality - is a simple way to show courtesy and respect for others; your customers, your clients and your colleagues. When you show up late for appointments, meetings or meals, you send a clear message to others that your time is more important than theirs.
    • Plan on getting to your appointment approximately 15 minutes early. This gives you a little bit of flexibility if any unforeseen circumstances take place.
    • Print out directions from MapQuest or Google Maps prior to leaving for your appointment.
    • Many cell phones now come standard with GPS and mapping software as well.

Next week’s Article #2 will cover Appointment Setting Essentials, An Education Based Sales Presentation, Do the Right Thing - Earning a Customer is More Important Than Making a Sale.

Lastly, Article #3 will cover Increasing Your Closing Ratio, Cross Marketing Opportunities, How to Obtain Referrals and Technologies to Help Grow Your Business, Primarily CRM and Website.

Keep in mind, the ideas expressed in these articles are strictly views and opinions that we’ve collected throughout the years. They are concepts aimed at giving agents a different prospective or new ideas to help increases sales and grow their business. They should not be viewed as fact or the only way to conduct business.


Additional Updates:
  • Mutual of Omaha Medicare Supplement Now Available in ID & IL - Learn More
  • Mutual of Omaha Medicare Supplement Now Available in MO - Learn More
  • Mutual of Omaha Medicare Supplement Now Available in TN - Learn More

Tags: Sales Tips, Success Tips, Senior Market Advice, Senior Market Success, Customer Service, Mutual of Omaha Medicare Supplement

Overcoming Common Sales Objectives

Posted by Lauren Hidalgo on Fri, Apr 06, 2012 @ 09:25 AM

Medicare SupplementsIf your sales aren't as high as you’d like them to be, it might be time for a new perspective. Whether you've encountered situations you haven't dealt with before, or ones that change midway through the sales conversation, a new perspective can help you manage the change.

Here are some questions to ask yourself:

  • Are you visiting/talking to enough clients and prospects? Are you being proactive and keeping your activity high? Determine your customer contact time as a percentage of your total working time. Although, remember not to confuse movement with action.

  • Are you talking to the right people? Consider how your cold-calling strategy and any leads you are purchasing are working for you. What is the rate of return on your investment? Are you speaking with turning 65 leads or older seniors looking to switch plans? Also, make sure you are speaking with the decision maker in the household. Some seniors may prefer you speak to their spouse, caretaker, or child.

  • Are you saying/doing the right things? Are your sales skills up to par? If not, look into taking a course or seeking out advice from someone you admire as a mentor. You can also talk with your marketing representative at PSM, who have sales scripts, tips, and techniques that can help guide you to fulfilling your sales goals.

  • What is your predominant attitude? As cliché as it sounds, your attitude on each call is a small thing that makes a big difference. It sets the tone and drives the call. Are you excited about your product? Find an angle, and be aware that you will drive your sales with it.

When you look at these problems from a different perspective you will find you can increase your sales, improve your approach, and find creative ways to solve the problem you are struggling with.

Please give us your feedback!
What have you done to change your prospective in your business? How did it affect your closing ratio? What advice do you have for other agents who might be struggling?

Source: LifeHealthPro

Additional Updates:
  • Forethought Freedom Process Improvements & April Incentive Contest Announcement - Learn More
  • Are Medicare Select sales opportunities passing you by? - Learn More

Tags: Sales Tips, Success Tips, Senior Market Success, Health Insurance, Cold Calling, Leads, Forethought Medicare Supplement, Medicare Select

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