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Impact of Healthcare Reform on the Medicare Market

Posted by Guadalupe Cantu on Fri, Sep 06, 2013 @ 11:15 AM

Medicare SupplementsAs the Affordability and Accountability Act inches closer to the October 1st launch date, many insurers are anticipating major changes in the regulatory and funding under the new health care reform law. With all this anticipation going around, how will the Medicare Supplement and Medicare Advantage programs be affected by the changes?

For Medicare Supplement program, health care is hardly unaffected by the ACA. Under the new changes (Section 3210 of ACA), the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) was required to add a minimal cost to the C and F plans. In December 2012, in a letter to Health and Human Services Director Kathleen Sebelius, the NAIC recommended a no cost sharing to the plans, stressing that that the additional cost would decrease usage. In May 28, 2013, the no cost sharing to plans C and F was accepted in a letter response by HHS Director Kathleen Sebelius.

The Medicare Advantage program has been affected the most by the changes. The ACA holds the Med Advantage program to an 85% minimum loss ratio. It further requires the funding levels to the plans to be restructured, removing 14% overpayment to Medicare Advantage, aligning it closer to the traditional Medicare program. This in spite of the 2012 demonstration program by Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, which expended payments to the Medicare Advantage program and regulates the funding and cuts of program.

With the regulations that the ACA has put in place for the health care reform, it has had a two-pronged road affect. The traditional plan seems to have gone unscathed, while the Med Advantage has an uphill battle adjusting it rates to the market, as well as, and being a hot topic for future political health battle grounds to come.


Please give us your feedback!
Does the health care reform hurt the Medicare insurance industry or will it make it more competitive and affordable?

 

Source: CSG Actuarial

Additional Updates:
  • UnitedHealthCare: PSM is excited to promote the 2014 UHC Proposed Plan Benefits. Don’t miss this opportunity!

    National Training Calendar. Learn More
  • Coventry : At PSM, we want to ensure our agents have the resources and tools to sell successfully and provide Medicare consumers with valuable and accurate information and assistance.

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  • Oxford Life: A Unique Med Supp Opportunity with Oxford for IA, KS, MI, MO ,NE, OK, TN. Learn More
  • Stonebridge Life: Hot Medicare Supplement Rates Now Available for CA, OR. Also available for DE, FL, ID, KS, MI, MO, ND, NJ, NM, NV, OH, PA, SD, UT, WA.
    Learn More
  • Forethought Life: Med Supp Rate Increases Learn More

  • Sentinel Life: Med Supp increases Learn More

     

Tags: Senior insurance, Health Insurance, Medicare Supplement, Medicare News, health insurance industry, health care reform

Physicians Medicare participation on the rise

Posted by Guadalupe Cantu on Fri, Aug 23, 2013 @ 02:33 PM

Medicare SupplementsIn recent years, the numbers of doctors who have chosen to participate in Medicare program have risen. According to a Department of Health and Human Services, it rose by one-third from 2007 and 2011. The growth can also be seen in the 2011; about 1.25 million physicians billed Medicare, compared to the 925,000 of those who billed for their services in 2007, as reported by HHS Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation.

According to Jonathan Blum, deputy administrator and director for the Center of Medicare, the trend "provides a more complete picture of how physicians choose to participate in the Medicare system."

The growth has continued despite the physicians complaints about Medicare payment caps, new paper work requirements, and Congress political delays of the payment of the Medicare beneficiary system, which could lower rates by 30% and is designed to ensure Medicare expenses do not exceed GDP growth.

However, in a Wall Street Journal article, it was reported that there was an increase in physicians opt out rate from the Medicare program, the number had risen from 3,700 doctors in 1997 to 9,500 in 2012, commissioning an investigation to the findings.

In spite of the WSJ article, Medicare Payment Advisory Commission (Medpac), reported that even though older doctors are opting out of the Medicare system, more new primary care professionals are opting into the system, according to Blum.

The researchers found that office based doctors made up 90% of those accepting new Medicaid patients, and Medicare patient found doctors in a timely manner. They also found 28% of the 7% of Medicare patients searching for new primary care doctors had a challenging time finding one that accepted Medicaid the year before. These are rates similarly aligned to those of private insurers, said Blum.


Please give us your feedback!
Do these findings raise awareness that agents and brokers make health insurance shopping more affordable?

 

Source: USA Today

Additional Updates:
  • Assured Life Association/Woodmen of the World: September 2013 Med Supp rate release for AZ, MS, PA and Med SELECT PA. Learn More
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  • 2014 Medicare Advantage / PDP Certifications Now Available Learn More
  • UnitedHealthcare Agents: 2014 Proposed Benefit Maps Now Available / Certification Reminder Learn More
  • Medicare Advantage Certifications 2014 Medicare Advantage and Part D Certifications are now available! Learn More
  • Everence Agent Training Webinar Aug 21 - Learn More

Tags: Insurance advisor, Senior insurance, Health Insurance, Medicare Supplement, Medicare News, health insurance industry, insurance companies

Proposed Bill would Pay Seniors to Say Healthy

Posted by Lauren Hidalgo on Fri, Jul 12, 2013 @ 09:06 AM

Medicare Supplements A new bipartisan legislation was introduced last month by Senators Ron Wyden (D-Oregon) and Rob Portman (R-Ohio) that would allow Medicare to pay seniors to improve and maintain their health. The pinned Medicare Better Health Rewards program would measure the seniors' wellness using six criteria: blood pressure, cholesterol, tobacco use, body mass index, diabetes indicators, and up-to-date vaccinations and screenings.

With this plan, seniors would work with their doctors during their yearly Medicare "wellness" visits to evaluate their performance and to improve their health based on the set standards. Successful beneficiaries will be eligible for up to $200 by the program’s second year and $400 by its third year.

Rob Kind, (D-Wisconsin), a co-sponsor of twin House legislation stated "This is exactly the kind of bold, concrete and common-sense legislation that we need to rein in health care spending and help our seniors live healthy lives."

The initiative would be funded by Medicare savings generated by healthier seniors. However, it's only one of the options being considered to lower the program’s healthcare costs.


Please give us your feedback!
What are your thoughts? Do you think this bill would help improve wellness and reduce healthcare costs?

 

Source: The Hill

Additional Updates:
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Tags: senior market news, Medicare News, health insurance news, health insurance industry, Combined Insurance Medicare Supplement, Cigna Medicare Supplement, Baby Boomers

Five Key Truths About Our Industry

Posted by Lauren Hidalgo on Fri, May 10, 2013 @ 10:59 AM

Medicare Supplements

There are a lot of benefits to working as a senior insurance agent. Frankly, the industry is booming, and with 10,000 seniors aging into Medicare every day it won’t be slowing down any time soon. If you are considering getting into insurance or switching from a different niche of the industry, there are some things you should keep in mind for best chance at success.

Five key "truths" about our industry:

  1. You are a salesperson. It’s important to accept that as a salesperson you need to be good at selling. Obviously, this doesn’t mean selling a senior a product they do not need or cannot afford at that time. It means becoming their trusted advisor and educating them to choose the products that will help them live comfortably from the beginning of their retirement to when their needs change as they continue to age.

  2. You are running a business. You are now the owner of your own small business and you are your only job security. This might seem scary at first – or it might seem liberating – however, your highest priority is going to be making a profit and staying in business. Three things that will help you are prospecting, closing, and servicing your clients. The majority of your time day in and day out should be spent focused on these activities.

  3. You cannot "wing it." You need to have a plan to follow every day; the number of calls you need to make and a script ready for every call. This way you can insure you say exactly what you need to in the most efficient way possible. Remember to practice your scripts until they come naturally and don’t sound canned or rushed. This will help you to increase your ratio of prospects turning into clients.

  4. You have to work hard. The Med Supp business is booming but it’s also competitive. You will need to push yourself harder than everyone else. As Zig Ziglar, a famous motivational speaker once said, "The harder you are on yourself, the easier life will be on you." If you put in the hours and are willing to do the work it takes, you will find yourself poised for a successful venture in the industry.

  5. You must take 100% responsibility for your business. If your numbers aren’t where you want them to be, own up to them. See that as a warning sign and make the necessary changes. Maybe you need to start marketing online with a website or selling Medicare Supplements over the phone. Instead of making excuses outside of yourself take control of your business and become in control of your success.

PSM is your partner for success in the senior insurance market. Build your portfolio with everything from competitive Medicare Supplements to Final Expense plans to Hospital Indemnity, Long Term Care and Annuities. If you find yourself stuck or need assistance, please call our marketers at 1-800-998-7715. We are here to keep you on track and help you navigate your way into and through this competitive and lucrative market.

Please give us your feedback!
What tips do you have for those new to the industry? Anything you would add to this list?

 

Source: LifeHealthPro

Additional Updates:
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Tags: Sales Tips, Success Tips, health insurance industry, Equitable Life Medicare Supplement, Customer Service, Sentinel Life Hospital Indemnity

The Fiscal-Cliff and Medicare

Posted by Lauren Hidalgo on Fri, Jan 04, 2013 @ 01:14 PM

Medicare Supplements On Tuesday, Congress passed a deal to avoid the fiscal cliff called the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012. This bill delayed the budget sequestration by two months in order to give more time for negotiations between the parties on how to reduce the deficit. This highly controversial bill still leaves several unresolved budget issues, including cuts to Medicare and Medicare payments. It also fails to address the required increase to the national debt ceiling.

Some of the highlights included in the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012 are:
(for a full list, go here)

  • Medicare Advantage, health plans, hospitals, and dialysis centers were hit the hardest with payment cuts. Physicians, pharmacies, and other providers also saw large reductions.

  • Physicians avoided a 26.5 percent cut that is required under the Sustainable Growth Rate (SGR) formula. Also, 2013 will be another year without any Medicare rate increases.*

  • The law sets up another SGR physician rate cut for January 2014. Congress “punted” again because it’s easier for them to find $25 billion to delay the SGR cuts than it is for them to find $300 billion to repeal the formula altogether.

  • State run Medicaid will see a $4.2 billion federal funding cut in 2022 for safety-net hospitals that serve a disproportionate low-income and uninsured population.

  • Several special programs and add-on payments extended

CEOs, economists, and President Obama all agree that the fiscal cliff deal is barely a start, and while it has several breakthroughs, it also has several things it fails to do. There are two ways to look at the battle over the “fiscal cliff.” The first is the short term, limiting damage to the already weakened economy. The other is the long term, determining the shape of the government for years to come. Many more discussions and negotiations will be taking place in the upcoming months as Congress works to reach an agreement.

*This bill does not include an increase to Medicare.

Please give us your feedback!
What do you think of the things Congress has done so far in relation to the fiscal-cliff? What other changes do you think their discussion will bring to Medicare?

 

Source: Piper Report

Additional Updates:

Tags: senior market news, health insurance news, health insurance industry, Medicare Advantage News

Medicare Encouraging Seniors in Low Rated Plans to Switch

Posted by Lauren Hidalgo on Fri, Nov 09, 2012 @ 10:37 AM

Medicare Supplements Medicare officials have begun sending letters trying to nudge seniors out of the 26 medical and private drug plans that have performed with either a "poor" or "below average" rating from CMS in the last three years. The letter reads, "We encourage you to compare this plan to other options in your area and decide if it is still the right choice for you." Approximately 375,000 Medicare Advantage and 150,000 drug plan members have received this notice.

This is the first time Medicare officials have made an effort to warn beneficiaries about their medical and private drug plans while still allowing the companies to remain operational. They are, however, encouraging people to sign up with different companies other than the 26 plans falling "below average." On Medicare’s finder website those plans are not only marked with a warning sign but are not available to sign up electronically and force the senior to contact the insurance company directly in order to sign up for the plan. Also, in the future, some of these plans may be canceled if their company continues to perform below standards.

Isabella Leung, a Medicare spokeswoman said "We want to make it easy for beneficiaries to find and select the highest quality plans, and discourage people from staying in chronically low-performing plans." However, Robert Zirkelback, a spokesman for America’s Health Insurance Plans, argues that the letter to beneficiaries is premature because the rating system is flawed. He sites that the rating does not take into account plans serving a disproportionate number of seniors who have chronic illness or special needs or who live in otherwise medically underserved areas. He urges, "It’s important to make sure we get the measures right before we move on to these other steps."

Medicare officials understand that some seniors will simply ignore the warning, especially if they are satisfied with their plan, or if the price aligns with their income and their network of doctors. Leslie Fried, director for policy and programs at the National Council on Aging sums up, "If people are satisfied with their plan and it is currently contracted with CMS, isn’t that a decision they should be allowed to make?"


Please give us your feedback!
Do you think it’s the government’s responsibility to let your clients know about the low ratings? Do you feel it will negatively or positively impact your business?

 

Source: Kaiser Health News

Additional Updates:
  • Forethought Life Med Supp Now Available in MN - Learn More

Tags: health insurance industry, Medicare Advantage News, health care reform, Forethought Medicare Supplement, insurance companies

Med Supp Policyholder Satisfaction Up

Posted by Lauren Hidalgo on Fri, Jun 22, 2012 @ 10:13 AM

Medicare SupplementsA recent study by America's Health Insurance Plans (AHIP) commissioned by American Viewpoint, Inc. concluded that there is a high rate of Medicare Supplement policyholder satisfaction (90% of those polled), comparable to the survey results in 2009 (91%) and 2005 (87%). The survey asked Medigap enrollees about both their satisfaction and experience with their coverage. Medicare Supplement coverage continues to be an important option to Medicare beneficiaries and their survey concluded:

  • Nine out of ten (90%) Med Supp policyholders are satisfied with their coverage.

  • Over half of enrollees (79%) say their Med Supp policy is excellent or good value for the money.

  • Just over nine out of ten (91%) would recommend a Med Supp plan to a friend or relative who they become eligible for Medicare benefits.

  • Policyholders highlighted several benefits when asked what they liked most about their coverage, including limits on out-of-pocket costs, ease of dealing with medical bills and paperwork, and being able to budget for unexpected medical costs.

  • Enrollees also appreciated their freedom of choice for doctors, and that their plan covered hospital expenses and physician costs not covered by traditional Medicare.

  • Top concerns Medicare beneficiaries had were out-of-pocked loss, maintaining financial security and peace of mind.

The study also showed that enrollment in Medigap is stable with 49% of those polled having maintained the same coverage for the past five years, and an additional 20% purchased for the first time during the five year period. Of those polled, 39% transferred from their Employer-sponsored coverage when they became eligible, and 34% switched from another form of coverage.

With client satisfaction up, the Boomer generation aging into the market, and great new products like Combined Insurance, Stonebridge Life, and Heartland National becoming available in new areas, now is a great time to be selling Medicare Supplements. Feel free to call a marketer at 1-800-998-7715 for advice on finding a target niche and what new products would fit into your portfolio.


Please give us your feedback!
Have you seen an increase in client satisfaction? What percent of your clients have maintained the same policy for 5 years? Is that as common as the survey results make it seem?

Source: ProtectMedigap.org

Additional Updates:
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Tags: Medicare News, senior insurance market news, health insurance industry, insurance news, Heartland National Medicare Supplement, Combined Insurance Medicare Supplement

Introducing Stonebridge Life Med Supp: Now Available

Posted by Lauren Hidalgo on Fri, Jun 15, 2012 @ 09:00 AM

Medicare SupplementsStonebridge Life Insurance Company has released a new Medicare Supplement that's easy to sell, offers incredible affordability, and is backed by the strength of an industry leader. This will be one of the most sought after products for independent agents in 2012.

Stonebridge Life Insurance Company is a Transamerica company with more than 20 markets in the Americas, Europe, and Asia. Currently, Stonebridge Life covers over 3.7 million consumers with a variety of life, health, accident, dental, and now Medicare Supplement insurance plans. They offer quality products with quick response times as well as courteous and dependable service.

Give your clients a Med Supp they can truly count on:

  • Competitive Rates
  • Excellent Commissions
  • Advancing Available
  • E-Application Available
  • A+ Superior 2 out of 16 as of 4/27/11 rating by AM Best

Stonebridge Medicare Supplement states:

California New Jersey
Delaware Oregon
Florida Pennsylvania
Kansas Washington
Michigan  


Stonebridge Medicare Supplement resources:

Underwriting Guide
Company Contacts
Fax Transmittal

PSM encourages independent insurance agents to request information by visiting the link below and/or call 1-800-998-7715 to learn more about the new Stonebridge Life Medicare Supplement product.

Combined Click Here for More Information


Additional Updates:
  • New! Combined Insurance Medicare Supplement - Learn More
  • Stonebridge Life Medicare Supplement Now Available - Learn More

Tags: Medicare Supplement, Medicare News, health insurance industry, Combined Insurance Medicare Supplement, Stonebridge Medicare Supplement, insurance companies

Combined Insurance: Hot New Medicare Supplement Release

Posted by Lauren Hidalgo on Fri, Jun 08, 2012 @ 09:44 AM

Medicare SupplementsGreat news! Combined Insurance will soon release a new Medicare Supplement, with some of the most competitive rates in the market today. This opportunity offers an ideal blend of competitive premiums as well as terrific agent compensation, all while being backed by one of the industry’s most customer-centric, "A" Rated carriers*.

Combined Insurance founder W. Clement Stone had the desire to "make the world a better place for this and future generations," a philosophy that is still very evident in how Combined Insurance conducts business today.

The Combined Insurance Advantage:
  • "A" Rated A.M. Best Carrier
  • Competitive Premiums
  • Industry-Leading Commissions
Agent Benefits:
  • New Co-Op Lead Program
  • Advancing Available

Release States:
Alabama, Illinois, Kentucky, Mississippi, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee

*Limited Time Offer* - 50 Free Senior Market Prospects available once your appointment is complete!

Give your clients the peace of mind they deserve, instantly download free sales materials and rates here.

Combined Click Here for More Information

Additional Updates:
  • New! Combined Insurance Medicare Supplement - Learn More

Tags: Medicare Supplement, health insurance industry, Combined Insurance Medicare Supplement

Health Care Costs a Top Retirement Fear

Posted by Lauren Hidalgo on Fri, May 11, 2012 @ 10:27 AM

Medicare SupplementsAs the Boomer generation reaches retirement and Medicare eligibility a survey done by Nationwide Financial shows not only is health care costs their top fear but they have underestimated what they will have to pay. John Carter, president of Nationwide Financial Distributors adds, "Americans — even those who have diligently saved for their golden years — are not prepared for the reality of health care costs in retirement and don't really understand how Medicare works."

Half of those who have at least $250,000 in household assets fear rising health care costs will deplete their retirement savings. The survey showed that those that fear health care costs estimate their annual payments will be $5,621, a drastic underestimate. A 2011 study done by Nationwide shows that those out-of-pocket expenses will be more like $10,750 a year. One major cost most pre-retirees assume Medicare covers is long term care. Also, they do not realize eye care, dental, and hearing are not covered under traditional Medicare.

Issued last month, a government trustee report showed that Medicare as it is now will be exhausted by 2024 and Social Security by 2033. This has more people planning on working longer, in order to save enough to retire with enough to cover all of their expenses.

It is important to educate your aging 65 clients to prepare for their future health care costs. Especially in this election year, fear runs high as statistics are cited between candidates and plans are proposed. By suggesting Medicare Supplements that help your clients to budget their health care costs in easy to manage monthly payments you will help them ease into their retirement years knowing they are secure in their health care.


Please give us your feedback!
What questions do your turning 65 prospects ask? Do they seem worried about saving enough to cover their health care during retirement?

Source: USAToday

Additional Updates:
  • Gerber Life Medicare Supplement Rate Increase for NV & SC - Learn More
  • Plan "G" - Increasing Sales for many PSM Agents - Learn More

Tags: senior market news, Medicare Supplement, health insurance industry, Senior News, health care reform, Customer Service, Gerber Life Medicare Supplement

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