Over the next few weeks, we will be receiving rate information for Medicare Supplement Plans M and N from our carriers. Of the two new plans, Plan N is shaping up to be one of the most attractive and popular insurance products on the market.
As many of you know, one of the biggest reasons seniors don’t or can’t get a Medicare Supplement is due to cost. Plan N has been designed to be a cost-effective solution that competes directly with Medicare Advantage plans. We believe many cost-conscious seniors will gravitate towards Plan N, as it offers the stability and standardization of a Medicare Supplement at a price point that is 25%-35% cheaper than the comprehensive and popular Plan F. Thus, Plan N is a perfect alternative to Medicare Advantage because it allows you to increase your customer base and further elevate your income stream. This incredible combination of lower price and higher accessibility is going to make Plan N the choice for most seniors in 2010, especially those who are healthy and don’t often need medical care.
The primary reason why Plan N is more affordable is because it requires clients to share the cost of their treatment, much like a Medicare Advantage plan. Unlike a Med Advantage plan however, Plan N has no network restrictions and much lower out-of-pocket liabilities to the client. Plan N is different from what is traditionally expected from a Medicare Supplement plan, these new benefit changes now make Medicare Supplements much more accessible to lower income seniors and more attractive to those who are healthy and wouldn’t otherwise see the need for one.
Though Plan F is currently the most popular Med Supp plan because it offers the most comprehensive coverage for the money, we think Plan N represents the future of Medicare. Medicare can’t continue to shoulder the entire cost burden of rising medical costs and a huge boom in the senior population over the next decade. If there is still going to be a Medicare in the future, CMS is most likely going to structure future plans so that seniors are going to have to share in financing their healthcare.
To obtain the new Modernized plans for your state with the addition on Plans M & N, Click Here
Medicare Blog | Medicare News | Medicare Information
It’s that time of year again, but this time many of you who sell Mutual of Omaha Medicare supplements will see that rate increases are significantly higher than usual. Click the links below to view the new rates for your state(s).
Mutual of Omaha Companies Med Supp Rate Increase Info is for the following states (April 2010):
AL, AR, AZ, CT, IL, KY, MI, ND, OH, OR, SC, SD, and TN
Ohio (April 1, 2010):
Missouri (April 1, 2010):
WellPoint Announces Rate Increases Between 25% - 39% in California
And if you think these are high, they aren’t as bad as those found in the under 65 market. This past week, WellPoint CEO Angela Braly addressed a U.S. House subcommittee regarding insurance rate increases of 25% to 39% announced by her company’s Anthem Blue Cross of California.
Committee Democrats argued that Anthem e-mails demonstrate that the company seeks to increase its profit margin and to reduce coverage. The politicians pointed out that in 2008, WellPoint paid $115 million to 85 senior executives, and compensated 39 executives more than $1 million each. The company also spent over $27 million on 103 executive retreats.
As you can see, we have implemented both minor and major changes to our site to improve both the design and functionality of our site. We’ve implemented our new logo and color scheme, a new homepage design, added a drop down navigation bar, and most significant of all, we’ve added a new agent resource page that consolidates an array of useful information for you in one spot.
With all the changes to Medicare this year, we’ve created a dedicated Medicare 2010 information page that breaks down everything you need to know in an easy to digest format. We’ve created a tabbed panel for you to easily switch between the different types of information. On this dedicated Medicare 2010 information page you will find a concise overview, a tabled breakdown of all the plans, a list of Frequently Asked Questions provided by Mutual of Omaha, and links to major Medicare websites. We will update this page with any new info that may arise, so we recommend checking this page periodically. Here is a direct link to the page:
Our resources page features the same tabbed panel structure for clear and easy to access information. On this page you will find a link to the aforementioned dedicated Medicare 2010 information page, a link to our E&O partner, links to helpful technology sites, information on incentives and events, information and links to educational resources, links to major news sites, and a convenient list of carrier contact info. We are always seeking the best resources for our agents; so when we discover them, know that we’ll post that information here first.
At PSM, we’re always trying to improve our service to our agents, so we appreciate any feedback you may have on any of the changes we’ve made.
As many of you already know, Medicare's Annual Open Enrollment begins November 15 and will last until the end of the year December 31. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services this week released the final $6.3 million of a total $49.6 million in total funding allocated for State Health Insurance Assistance Programs (SHIPs).
SHIPs use this money to fund local community programs that provide personalized help to Seniors who want to know more about Medicare and other health insurance information. SHIP programs are expected to focus heavily on less fortunate Seniors who typically have little knowledge of the Medicare system and the benefits they are entitled to. For more information on the SHIPs in your state, click here.
For this open enrollment season many in the industry expect to see an increase in Medicare supplement enrollments due to several changes to Medicare Advantage that will occur in 2010. MA beneficiaries can expect to see an average premium increase of nearly 22% (a $7 increase to $39/month). Despite the increases, CMS states that roughly 87% of Medicare beneficiaries will still have access to a MA plan that doesn’t require a premium. Additionally, CMS expects 7% of MA beneficiaries will have to choose a new health plan or a Medicare supplement as their plans (typically PFFS and low enrollment plans) will be discontinued at the end of this year.
CMS will also increase its oversight of Medicare marketing activities. There are now stronger rules governing the commissions that can be paid to independent sales agents and how MA plans identify themselves. CMS will significantly increase its secret shopping activities, including individual marketing sessions. So we advise that you be extra vigilant in your compliance efforts this season. Mutual of Omaha has already published its disenrollment guidelines, which you can check out here.
As usual, Seniors will have access to www.medicare.gov and 1-800-MEDICARE this season. Of course, these are good resources for agents such as yourself, if only to ensure that your information aligns with the official source. For all open enrollment related information, click here.
As always, we’ll keep you updated with the latest news and product information to help make this open enrollment season a successful one for your organization.
Sources: CMS, Senior Journal
Tags: Medicare open enrollment, Senior Market Advice, Senior Market Success, senior market blog, senior market news, Medicare Advantage, Health Insurance, Medicare, Medicare Supplement, Senior Market, Medicare Discussion, Medicare News, senior insurance market news, Medicare Advantage News, Medicare Sales, Medicare Advice, CMS, Medicare Solutions
The Gerber Life Medicare supplement launch has no doubt inundated your inbox with about 50 emails regarding this product from various entities, so if you’ve made it to this page, I want to personally thank you. Like you, everyone here at PSM is seeing the famous baby face in their dreams at night with the massive amount of activity that has taken place since Tuesday. Our phones have been ringing constantly, and our website has seen 10,000 page views since the release of the product. If you haven’t seen our national press release, check it out at: http://www.prweb.com/releases/Medicare-Supplement/Gerber-Life/prweb2837364.htm If you are still on the fence about this product, we encourage you to call us to learn why this product is set to be one of the most competitive in the market. For reference here is a direct link to our Gerber Life Medicare supplement landing page with more links to rates and contracting information.
Remembering 9/11: PSM will take a moment of silence today to honor those who lost their lives during the events of 9/11.
President Obama’s “Full-Court Press”: Beginning with addressing a joint session of Congress on Wednesday night, President Obama will be making several speeches detailing his vision for health care reform. Of course, the biggest news stemming from the speech seems to be the outburst from Joe Wilson (R-SC) who shouted “You lie” when Obama stated that his health reform vision doesn’t include coverage of illegal immigrants. Here are some of the other details stemming from the speech:
* No one will lose health insurance coverage if they already have coverage.
Chronic Conditions Highest Among Elderly Women: Last week, a Health and Human Services report showed that chronic conditions are most prevalent among women because they live longer. This may seem like a no-brainer, but the report does have some very interesting quantitative data that you may find useful to present to your clients. Here are some of the most interesting points:
* Among people age 80 and older, 93% have at least one chronic condition and 78% have two more.
* The growth in Medicare Part B premiums from 2000 to 2018 is predicted to cost seniors an additional $1,577 per year out-of-pocket.
* 98% of Medicare spending is for beneficiaries with one or more chronic conditions.
* Senior women spent on average 17 percent of their income on health care in 2005.
For this and other HHS reports click here.
Tags: Senior Market Advice, Senior Market Success, senior market blog, senior market news, Health Insurance, Medicare, Medicare Supplement, Senior Market, Medicare Discussion, Medicare News, senior insurance market news, health insurance industry, Medicare Sales, Medicare Advice, Medicare Solutions
On Tuesday, a new Medicare Supplement product will be released by an "A" rated (A.M. Best) company that has one of the most recognizable brands among Americans of all ages. This new product is filed for approval in 32 states and will eventually roll out to even more. As an exclusive distribution partner, we look forward to releasing details on this new product on Tuesday. In the meantime, have a great Labor Day weekend!
President Obama to Speak Out on the 9th: He will give a speech on health care reform to a joint session of Congress next Wednesday in an attempt to refocus the national conversation on healthcare. NPR listed several poll results that show opposition to his health reform goals has grown. Three of the polls cited show opposition is around 50% as of the last week of August. White House officials say this speech will provide a comprehensive explanation of the President’s health care plans which have been ambiguous thus far.
The Compromise: In an effort to make some progress on the healthcare issue, President Obama and Republican Senator Olympia Snow are in serious discussions regarding a new health care reform plan. At the center of the compromise is a public healthcare option “trip wire”. Under this plan, a public option would only be implemented if certain performance criteria are not met. Another major compromise would be establishing a law barring insurance companies from denying coverage to people with pre-existing conditions. This plan is intended to win over 1 or 2 Republican votes and most of the conservative democrats.
FTC Bans Commercial Robocalls: For those of you who use autodialers or robocalls to contact consumers, you will want to take a look at this page: http://www.ftc.gov/opa/2008/08/tsr.shtm Violators of this new law will face penalties of up to $16,000 per call. After September 1, 2009, consumers who receive prerecorded telemarketing calls, but have not agreed to get them can file a complaint with the FTC who will then investigate.
Medicare Advantage/Part D Enrollment Begins Nov. 15: Medicare Advantage marketing has many requirements, so we encourage all our agents to get caught up on all the new rules to make sure the enrollment period is spent writing business and not putting out compliance fires. Contact your PSM marketer today for a list of resources where you can get the training you need.
Tags: Success Tips, Senior Market Advice, Senior Market Success, senior market blog, senior market news, Medicare Advantage, Health Insurance, Medicare, Medicare Supplement, Senior Market, Medicare Discussion, Medicare News, senior insurance market news, health insurance news, Medicare Advantage News, Medicare Sales, Medicare Advice, Medicare Solutions
Doctors across America will see their Medicare payments cut by 21.5% starting January 1, 2010 if a proposal by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) is passed. CMS is also proposing to remove physician-administered drugs from the formula used to calculate Medicare's fee schedule for doctors.
The latter proposal is backed by the American Medical Association. AMA president J. James Rohack claims such changes to the Medicare physican payment formula are "...a major victory for America's seniors and their physicians."
The 21.5% cut in 2010 will occur unless Congress strikes down the proposal as it has in the past. The large cut is a result of the sustainable growth rate (SGR) factor in the Medicare payment formula, and from Congress stalling earlier proposed payment cuts.
As an example of what could happen under the cuts, the Michigan State Medical Society estimates that physicians in the state could lose roughly $610 million in 2010. Furthermore, in a 2008 survey the society found that 12% of doctors in the state would stop seeing medicare patients, 44% would decrease the number of Medicare patients they saw, and 40% would see still see the normal amount of Medicare patients, but have to cut investments in staff, technology, or quality improvement efforts. The remaining 4% said it would have no effect. Stay tuned for the decision.
HAPPY 4TH OF JULY!
Tags: senior market blog, senior market news, Medicare Advantage, Health Insurance, Medicare, Medicare Supplement, Senior Market, Medicare Discussion, Medicare News, senior insurance market news, health insurance news, health insurance industry, Medicare Advantage News, Medicare Advice, CMS
According to CNN, the Pharmaceutical Researchers and Manufacturers of America has agreed to discount medications for Medicare beneficiaries who face high out-of-pocket expenses when their benefits reach a gap in coverage. The deal was negotiated by Sen. Max Baucus, D-Montana and subsequently praised by Present Obama as a “turning point” in health care reform.
The President further elaborated saying “The agreement reached today to lower prescription drug costs for seniors will be an important part of the legislation I expect to sign into law in October.”
The pharmaceutical group agreed to a 50% discount to most beneficiaries for brand-name medicines purchased during a Medicare part D gap in coverage that costs senior citizens between $2,700 and $6,100 a year. The agreement will result in $80 billion in Medicare drug savings over the next 10 years.
On a related matter according to the Associated Press, President Obama said health insurers will continue to profit with a government option in place. He explained that even though insurers will make less profit per patient, they will make it up since they will have more paying customers when the uninsured sign up for coverage. Needless to say, insurers still believe they’ll go out of business.
Tags: senior market blog, senior market news, Medicare Advantage, Health Insurance, Medicare, Medicare Supplement, Medicare Discussion, Medicare News, senior insurance market news, health insurance news, health insurance industry, insurance news, Medicare Advantage News, Medicare Advice, Medicare Solutions
2010 continues to shape up as the year of change, as this week saw both Coventry Health Care Inc. and WellCare Health Plans, Inc. announce the end to their Medicare Advantage private fee-for-service (PFFS) contracts as of January 1, 2010. Both companies cited the Obama administration's policy to cut payments to Medicare Advantage insurers as the primary reason, as well as a government mandate that such insurers will need to develop networks starting in 2011.
428,000 customers now need to find new coverage. Currently, Coventry has 318,000 customers under its PFFS Medicare Advantage plan, while WellCare has 110,000 under its plan. It will be interesting to see if other PFFS Medicare Advantage providers will attempt to pick up these customers, or drop their own PFFS plans due to the significant increase in costs caused by new government polices.
If you are, or were, an agent of one of these customers, what do or would you recommend as the best course of action? Should they stay with a similar plan, but with a different provider, change to another plan with the same provider, or change to another plan with a different provider?
If you're an agent contracted with PSM to offer Coventry's Medicare Advantage products and need advice on what to recommend, call us at 1-800-998-7715.
Tags: Senior Market Advice, Senior Market Success, senior market blog, senior market news, Medicare Advantage, Health Insurance, Medicare, Medicare Supplement, Senior Market, Medicare Discussion, Medicare News, senior insurance market news, health insurance news, health insurance industry, insurance news, Medicare Advantage News, Medicare Sales, Medicare Advice, insurance companies, Medicare Solutions
The big news this week was the announcement of changes to Medicare supplement insurance standards by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. The changes are detailed in the Federal Register / Vol. 74, No. 78 / Friday, April 24, 2009 / Notices document. The following changes apply to Medigap plans with policy years beginning on or after June 1, 2010:
These changes have created two sets of standardized plans which are known as the "1990 standardized plans" for plans with an effective date of coverage prior to June 1, 2010, and "2010 standardized plans" for those after. For those of you who are compelled to know the many details of the changes, click here. In the near future, once everyone has had some time to digest this information, we will post a blog regarding the implications of these important changes.
Tags: Senior Market Advice, Senior Market Success, senior market blog, senior market news, Health Insurance, Medicare, Medicare Supplement, Senior Market, Medicare Discussion, Medicare News, senior insurance market news, health insurance news, health insurance industry, insurance news, Medicare Advantage News, Medicare Sales, industry news, Medicare Advice, Medicare Solutions