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Medicare Blog | Medicare News | Medicare Information

How to Become a Senior Market Insurance Rock Star

Posted by Carly Callahan on Thu, Sep 24, 2015 @ 10:56 AM

How to optimize your local reach to attract new clients

We've all fallen victim to a burnout of prospecting ideas at one point or another.

Agents- You know what I'm talking about...When you've gotten a big, fat 0% return on your direct mail drop investment, knocked on ten doors to hear "I think I'll stay with my company" in all ten instances, cold-called all of the leads you've purchased this quarter until you were blue in the face to only frustratingly be hung up on. You get it.

With AEP around the corner, you're in need of some fresh, innovative ideas to attract prospects and generate leads- So, what are the tricks in expanding your senior market insurance business to reach an all-time rock star status in your community?

How to optimize your local reach to attract new clients

1. Adopt an omni-channel approach

Embracing the growth of new digital and omni-channel capabilities provides clients and prospects with what they desire: convenient access to advice and assistance. The first step toward better-serving this need is to establish your digital presence.

With 55% of online users age 65 and over using Facebook in 2014, it is essential for you to create a Facebook Page to service and retain your existing clients. The smallest of interactions, like dropping by a client’s Facebook to post a comment celebrating another rotation around the sun, helps emphasize your appreciation for their business. Not only will your Facebook Page improve the overall client experience, but also serve as a solid foundation for prospects to gain insight toward your role as a senior market insurance specialist.

While nearly 33% of participants in GenRe’s recent study: The Role of the Agent in Medicare Supplement Sales reported seeking assistance and not receiving any type of help, it is critical for you, as a senior market insurance specialist, to affiliate your name and business with the zip code you serve on search engines. Suggestions upon how you may go about getting in touch with those senior prospects looking for advice-oriented services include creating a Google My Business account, registering for a free membership with AgentReview, becoming a Sub Moderator on Reddit for r/insurance, and, if applicable, financially and educationally investing in SEO practices for your personal website.

2. Facilitate interactions with advice-oriented sales and services

Outside the realm of selling senior market insurance products, it is in both your and the client's best interest to offer advice on risk management and value-added servicing (such as claims). In doing so, you will continuously build rapport within your community as a senior market insurance specialist so that prospects know where to turn when the time comes.

Digitally, there are multiple platforms for senior market insurance agents to engage with not only prospects who need advice, but also other agents, such as Insurance-Forums and the Inbound Insurance Marketing community on Google+.

You may also go about prospecting by physically placing promotional advertisements or branded products within local facilities with respect to senior market purchasing habits. For example, heading to an independently-owned golf course and asking the owner if he or she would be willing to accept a donation of 1,000 (or more) score cards if, in exchange, you were granted the opportunity to place a small ad upon them in the printing process. Same goes for bookmarks to book stores, calculators to tax centers, piggy banks to banks, coffee mugs to coffee shops or restaurants, coasters to furniture stores- etc.

I have also seen posts within Insurance-Forums regarding agents' technique in placing ads upon prescription bags at local pharmacies. I, however, am an out-of-the-box thinker and decided to get creative, ditch a logo and throw in a catchy slogan upon senior-related products to place at the pharmacy pick-up window for our independent agents with multiple carriers. Take a peek at these ideas:

Promotional idea to attract prospectsPromotional idea to attract prospects

Check out AnyPromo and see what awesome ideas YOU can come up with to promote your business. (If you happen to be reading this before 10/17, be sure to use coupon code: PINK25 for $25 off your order of $250 or more or PINK75 for $75 off your order of $500 or more!)

3. Leverage data to achieve insight-driven actions and outcomes

Be sure to keep up-to-date with the political, social and economic trends and changes within the senior market insurance industry. You may do so by bookmarking and frequently revisiting resources, such as LifeHealthPro's Boomer Market and Senior Market sections, SeniorJournal, AARP's Medicare section, The New York Times' Medicare section, and most certainly the Medicare and CMS blogs.

Or, just simply subscribe to Precision Senior Marketing's Medicare Blog- We'll do the leveraging work for you, but we want to hear your ideas!

So, how do YOU prospect in your community?

Please, share your thoughts with me in the comments section below.


Source: www.linkedin.com

Additional Updates:

Tags: Insurance, Senior Market, Prospecting new clients

Advocates Aim to Block Medicare Premium Increases

Posted by www.psmbrokerage.com Admin on Thu, Sep 17, 2015 @ 08:49 AM

16.5 million Medicare enrollees are facing premium increases of more than 50%

16.5 million Medicare enrollees are facing premium increases of more than 50%.

Should 30% of Medicare beneficiaries shoulder a 52% premium hike next year while the other 70% pay no more at all? Advocates for seniors do not think so, and they are making a push to convince Congress to stop it from happening.

The Medicare population vulnerable to shouldering the larger premium includes some federal and state government employees, people who sign up for Medicare for the first time next year, low-income seniors whose premiums are paid by state Medicaid plans and high-income seniors who already pay premium surcharges.

For these 16.5 million enrollees facing the stiff increase, monthly premiums would rise to $159.30 from $104.90, according to the recent annual report of the Medicare trustees.

Meanwhile, 36 million Medicare Part B enrollees would have their premiums hold steady at $104.90 because increases are tied to Social Security cost-of-living adjustments as part of a “hold harmless provision” in the Social Security Act. Because no COLA is expected next year due to extraordinarily low inflation this year, the Part B premium will stay flat.

Some costs will go up for almost everyone, however, as trustees forecast a big increase in the Medicare Part B deductible, to $223 from $147, with the exception of those who have first-dollar Medigap supplemental policies and Medicare Advantage plan enrollees.

What Can Be Done

Advocates for the 30% are swinging into action, trying to convince Congress to pass a one-time fix that would hold off on cost of living increases for everyone. Legislation that extended the hold harmless provision to those not covered by it passed the House of Representatives when a similar situation occurred in 2009, but never received a vote in the Senate.

This time, the fix is being pushed by a broad coalition of advocates and organizations representing federal and state government workers. No official figures are available, but a back-of-the-envelope calculation suggests a fix would cost the federal government $10 billion.

“It’s not an ideal situation from anyone’s perspective,” says Juliette Cubanski, associate director of the Program on Medicare Policy at the Kaiser Family Foundation. “People on Social Security would much rather have a COLA, and the Medicare actuaries would much rather spread around the cost increases evenly.”

The 2016 premiums are not locked in until October, so there is still time to change course. The Part B premium is based on the program’s estimate of how much they need to run the program, plus a cushion for unexpected costs, Cubanski explains. “Medicare could opt for a smaller reserve, which could bring the premium down a bit.”

Politicians are not likely to ride to the rescue of well-off seniors, who will bear some of this expected price increase. But half of Medicare beneficiaries have an income of $24,000 or less, according to Kaiser. Price increases will hit them hardest.

Among the middle-income seniors likely to be affected are federal retirees covered by the Civil Service Retirement System – the government’s legacy defined benefit pension system.

These retirees did not participate in Social Security during their time in the federal workforce (federal workers hired since 1987 have participated in the newer defined benefit Federal Employees Retirement System, and they receive Social Security.)

This also applies to state government employees, most of whom participate in defined-benefit pension plans and are not covered by Social Security during their tenure as state employees.

Another big area of worry: low-income “dual-eligible” seniors who receive Social Security and also participate in both Medicare and state-run Medicaid programs.

Although this group is not covered by the “hold harmless” provision, states pick up the tab for the higher cost, putting additional pressure on already-stressed state Medicaid budgets.

“We’re very concerned about state Medicaid budgets, and how they would handle the increase,” says Andrew Scholnick, senior legislative representative at AARP.

Although Congress has a busy fall schedule, lawmakers are showing interest in taking action to mitigate the impact. “I think it’s is going to come to the forefront a bit more now,” says Scholnick.

But he doubts Congress will act before October, leaving the door open to a last minute fix before year-end.


Source: www.time.com

Additional Updates:

Tags: Medicare Part B, Medicare, Premium Increases

Medicare launches first ever plan to achieve health equity

Posted by www.psmbrokerage.com Admin on Thu, Sep 10, 2015 @ 03:42 PM

Medicare & Medicaid at 50: Their Past, Present, and Future Impact on Health Equity

A new Medicare plan aimed at achieving equity for minority and other underserved populations and eliminating health disparities among Medicare beneficiaries was introduced yesterday by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) Office of Minority Health (CMS OMH).

It is the first CMS plan to address health equity in Medicare. The CMS Equity Plan for Improving Quality in Medicare (CMS Equity Plan for Medicare) is an action-oriented plan that focuses on six priority areas and aims to reduce health disparities in four years.

The plan was released at a conference entitled: Medicare & Medicaid at 50: Their Past, Present, and Future Impact on Health Equity, which was held in commemoration of the 50th anniversary of Medicare and Medicaid and the 30th anniversary of the 1985 Report of the Secretary’s Task Force on Black and Minority Health, also known as the Heckler Report.

“As we strive to create a health care system that provides better care, spends dollars more wisely and creates healthier people, CMS is committed to achieving equity for minority and other underserved populations and eliminating health disparities among Medicare beneficiaries,” said CMS Acting Administrator Andy Slavitt.

The Equity Plan focuses on Medicare populations that experience disproportionately high burdens of disease, lower quality of care, and barriers accessing care. These include racial and ethnic minorities, sexual and gender minorities, people with disabilities, and those living in rural areas.

The priorities and activities described in the plan were developed during a rigorous year-long process in collaboration with NORC at the University of Chicago, which included examining evidence, identifying opportunities, and gathering input from a broad array of stakeholders across the country. Six priority areas and several high-yield activities serve as the plan’s foundation. They include:

Priority 1: Expand the Collection, Reporting, and Analysis of Standardized Data
Priority 2: Evaluate Disparities Impacts and Integrate Equity Solutions Across CMS Programs
Priority 3: Develop and Disseminate Promising Approaches to Reduce Health Disparities
Priority 4: Increase the Ability of the Health Care Workforce to Meet the Needs of Vulnerable Populations
Priority 5: Improve Communication and Language Access for Individuals with Limited English Proficiency and Persons with Disabilities
Priority 6: Increase Physical Accessibility of Health Care Facilities

“Making sure care is equitable is often the forgotten core area of focus for ensuring that the health system is meeting patient needs and delivering high quality care. The CMS Equity Plan for Medicare will help to ensure that as we work towards better care, smarter spending, and healthier people we also continue to work to achieve health equity in Medicare,” said Cara James, director of the CMS Office of Minority Health. “We know that in order to achieve the goals of the plan, we need to work with many stakeholders, and we hope that as we start to implement the activities in the plan, we will see a number of them join us on the path to equity.”

The foundation for addressing each of the plan’s priorities includes the following interconnected principles that guide CMS’ efforts to achieve health equity:

  • Increasing understanding and awareness of disparities;
  • Developing and disseminating solutions; and
  • Taking sustainable action and evaluating progress.

To learn more about the six priorities and achieving health equity in Medicare visit: https://www.cms.gov/About-CMS/Agency-Information/omh/index.html

Note: The Affordable Care Act (ACA) established Offices of Minority Health within six agencies of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). The CMS Office of Minority Health (CMS OMH) collaborates with local and other federal partners to improve minority health and eliminate health disparities by ensuring that the voices and the needs of the populations it represents (racial and ethnic minorities, sexual and gender minorities, and people with disabilities) are present as the Agency is developing, implementing, and evaluating its programs and policies.


Source: www.seniorjournal.com

Additional Updates:

Tags: Medicare Equity, CMS Office of Minority Health, Health Disparities

Medicare Advantage Plans to Test Value-Based Insurance Design

Posted by www.psmbrokerage.com Admin on Thu, Sep 03, 2015 @ 02:16 PM

lowering out-of-pocket costs

The CMS Innovation Center unveiled a new demonstration program Tuesday that will allow Medicare Advantage insurers to encourage the use of clinically valuable services by lowering out-of-pocket costs for enrollees.

The demo is part of the Affordable Care Act's push to lower healthcare costs and improve clinical quality in the Medicare program. Policy experts also believe value-based insurance design may resolve some of the problems associated with high-deductible health plans, which are becoming more prevalent among employers and in the individual insurance market.

The Medicare Advantage Value-Based Insurance Design Model will begin Jan. 1, 2017, and run for five years, the CMS said. Eligible Medicare Advantage plans in Arizona, Indiana, Iowa, Massachusetts, Oregon, Pennsylvania and Tennessee can participate. The CMS chose those states because they were “generally representative of the national Medicare Advantage market.”

The model mirrors bipartisan legislation that was proposed in the House and Senate this year. It also “fills an immediate need for testing ways to improve care and reduce cost in Medicare Advantage plans and offers the prospect of lower out-of-pocket costs and premiums along with better benefits for enrollees in Medicare Advantage,” CMS Deputy Administrator Dr. Patrick Conway said in a news release.

Value-based insurance design, or VBID, refers to health plans that waive or lower out-of-pocket costs for services and prescription drugs that are considered to be effective for patients with chronic health conditions. For example, a plan might reduce copayments and other cost-sharing for diabetes exams and drugs in the hopes of lowering the long-term health costs for those patients.

The Innovation Center's model will focus on Medicare Advantage members who have diabetes, congestive heart failure, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, past stroke, hypertension, coronary artery disease or mood disorders.

VBID plans provide an alternative to the current structure of high-deductible health plans, which some researchers say don't meet the needs of everyone and have been called “archaic.” Dr. Mark Fendrick has spearheaded much of the push for VBID plans. He is the director and co-founder of the University of Michigan Center for Value-Based Insurance Design, and has advocated for more “clinical nuance” in the construction of high-deductible plans.

Currently, patients in high-deductible plans “pay the same whether it's something I beg my patients to do or I beg my patients not to do,” Fendrick said in a recent interview.

In Medicare's new experiment, Advantage insurers can create VBID plans through four approaches. They can eliminate or reduce cost-sharing for evidence-based services and drugs; eliminate or reduce cost-sharing for “high-value” hospitals, doctors, skilled-nursing facilities and other providers; reduce cost-sharing for members who participate in disease-management programs; or provide full coverage for “supplemental benefits,” such as nonemergency transportation to primary-care visits.

The CMS will hold a webinar explaining the model in more detail on Sept. 24.


Source: www.modernhealthcare.com

Additional Updates:

Tags: Medicare Advantage, Value-Based Purchasing, Government

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