Senior Text Translator
As texting becomes more and more prevalent, I'm sure you’ve noticed your children (or maybe you’ve even done so yourself) adapting acronyms for common phrases to further speed up the process..
Phrases like "TTYL" (talk to you later) and even "BTW" (By The Way) have taken on a new understanding to those who use them often. Here is a humorous take on those acronyms for the senior crowd.
It's all in good fun. We hope you all have a wonderful Grandparents Day.
The senior market is experiencing rapid change and growth. It is imperative, now more than ever, for an independent insurance agent to have a valuable support base in order to succeed.
At PSM, we want to be that support base, and encourage you to come join us to see how our team of expert professionals can help you grow your business.
Medicare Blog | Medicare News | Medicare Information
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:
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.
So, how do YOU prospect in your community?
Please, share your thoughts with me in the comments section below.
Medicare enrollment is on the rise, and it shows no signs of slowing. Consider this: It is projected that the 65+ population will double in size by 2030 when it will reach 71.5 million, and by 2050 it will be over 86 million.1 With this growth in Medicare buyers, no one should be surprised that an increasing number of consumers are looking for supplemental coverage to bridge the gaps left by Medicare.
The need to effectively educate and engage consumers has never been greater. At the end of last year, we conducted consumer research to learn more about how the senior population navigates the health insurance decision-making process, and what level of engagement exists between them and insurance agents.
This research was a follow-up to a qualitative consumer study we conducted in 2013 that evaluated Medicare Supplement insurance buyers and non-buyers (see more details at end of article). For the recent study, our researchers tested some initial findings from the 2013 research in which we categorized buyers as “Info-Takers” or “Info-Seekers.”
Topics we explored through this latest study included consumer engagement with agents and the role the agent plays in the decision-making process, the health insurance education process, and when and how consumers evaluate their coverage options. In this article, we discuss what we found to be some of the most useful takeaways.
Conducted in December 2014, our research targeted two distinct groups of consumers:
Participants were obtained through a national survey panel. Responses were collected via telephone and online and were weighted based on Internet usage levels and leveraging Pew Research statistics. All participants were U.S. residents and had health insurance coverage beyond Medicare Part A and/or Part B, with additional coverage of either Medicare Advantage or Medicare Supplement insurance.
Key Survey Findings
Agents’ Influence on the Plan Selection Process
Nearly 60% of consumers surveyed shared that they received assistance from a professional. Surprisingly, 56% had already made their decision on whether or not to enroll in Medicare prior to receiving assistance from a professional. However, many may have selected a different option after meeting with the agent.
For those that received assistance with the decision-making process, fewer than 20% of them were contacted without having any prior conversation with that agent. The majority - nearly 40% - selected an agent based on a recommendation from a family member or friend. Referrals also came from former employers, physicians or financial planners.
Only about 20% of consumers said they connected with their agent by responding to an advertisement or mailer. This was an interesting finding considering the deluge of marketing materials sent to consumers upon turning age 65.
In our 2013 consumer study, we found that individuals received so many marketing mailers about Medicare Supplement insurance options that they only paid attention to the first few received and then tossed the majority of them in the trash without reading them.
When deciding which health insurance option to select, 31% of participants reported wanting a high degree of assistance from a professional. Those that sought support were looking for help in a variety of areas including:
About 30% of consumers said they looked for considerable or high-level assistance across all of these areas. [See Exhibit A]
Exhibit A. Percentage Reporting They Desire Considerable or High Level of Assistance in Selecting a Medicare Supplement Plan
Unfortunately, nearly a third of consumers that indicated they were seeking a high degree of assistance did not end up working with a professional at all. These individuals either didn’t know where to turn for help, or chose to seek advice from family or friends rather than a professional. Individuals with this profile would therefore be excellent candidates for outreach by agents as they aren’t receiving the level of assistance they seem to desire.
Agents’ Influence on Buying Decisions
Our data shows that the majority of the time agents clearly influence consumers’ buying decisions regarding a Medicare Supplement plan.
For example, among the cohort of consumers who felt they needed a lot of direction/advice on which plan to select (and for whom an agent made a recommendation 72% of the time), they reported going with that plan nearly 95% of the time. Those consumers went with that plan 94% of the time. Even with those individuals who felt they already knew or had a strong idea about which plan they wanted, agents made recommendations 60% of the time, and once again, the recommended plan was selected the majority (88%) of the time.
The same holds true when selecting which company to choose for purchasing Medicare Supplement insurance coverage. Consumers who felt they needed a lot of direction/advice were offered a recommendation 62% of the time, and they selected the company recommended 92% of the time. For those who felt they already knew or had a strong idea of which company they would select, agents gave a recommendation just under 50% of the time, and the consumers opted for that choice 93% of the time. [See Exhibit B]
Exhibit B. Influence of Agent Recommendation When Selecting a Company for Medicare Supplement Insurance
We dug deeper into the agent influence data and found a difference between when the consumer initiated contact after receiving an advertisement and when the agent initiated contact. When consumers initiated the contact with the agent, they opted for the carrier with the lowest cost option more often than when they had received a referral or if the agent had contacted them directly. We also learned that when the consumer was referred to the agent, which occurred most often, the majority of the time (nearly 60%) these individuals selected the company with a reasonably priced option, but not the lowest. [See Exhibit C]
This could indicate that consumers who initiated contact with the agent had already done research on which plan they wanted, and had determined their best options from the various companies available.
Exhibit C. How the Selected Insurance Company Compared to Other Companies Offering Medicare Supplement Plans
Another significant result we found was that when consumers had received no previous assistance at all from an agent, they were far more likely to select a company they’ve used before. About half of participants indicated this, and another 45% reported they selected a company that they were aware of but had never used. Interestingly, when an agent provided assistance, consumers were more likely to select a previously unknown company.
Customer Communication Preferences
Among those that met with a professional, over 65% had a one-on-one meeting. While consumers appear to prefer in-person contact, agents seem to be missing opportunities during those meetings to advise their clients on other insurance products that may be of interest. In fact nearly 80% of respondents shared that they do not work with the agent to purchase any other product.
In addition, nearly half (46%) of consumers reported that their health insurance agent had not kept in contact with them once they sold the policy. However, when asked how often consumers wanted to be in touch with their agents, the majority (46%) said at their policy anniversary date. About a third reported wanting to be contacted with important updates.
Very few, only 12%, said they never wanted to be contacted. Even for those who had kept in contact, over 50% of consumers, not their agents, initiated the contact with the agent at their first anniversary date. [See Exhibit D]
Exhibit D. Preferred Level of Contact With Original Agent
Of those that prefer to have an ongoing relationship with their agent, nearly 70% said they prefer contact by telephone or email. Apparently, this is an area where agents are not meeting their customers’ needs.
We also asked participants ages 66–75 if they had changed their Medicare Supplement plan selections or switched companies since they originally purchased their coverage. We were surprised by their responses - less than 30% had made a change to their coverage since turning 65 and selecting Medicare. The older segment of this group (those ages 71–75) were more likely than the younger group (65–70) to have done so.
Even more surprising was that the consumers, not agents, had initiated this switch - nearly 60% of the time. According to our findings, agents initiated the switch less than 10% of the time. While consumers appear to be driving these decisions to switch companies, agents definitely can help them understand how they compare.
Consumers clearly value recommendations provided by agents concerning Medicare Supplement plans, regardless of whether they initiated the contact with the agent or not. They prefer to have an ongoing relationship with the agent and are looking for the agent to stay connected with a phone call or email at the anniversary date, or with important updates to share.
Referrals from family members, friends, physicians and financial advisors are the more common ways that consumers get connected to agents. Therefore, we believe that maintaining strong relationships with consumers after the initial sale is the best way for agents to secure new business opportunities.
While agents do not appear to drive consumers’ decisions to switch plans or companies, when consumers are considering if they want to make a change, agents are helpful in comparing the options. When making a decision to switch, consumers were more likely to choose a lower cost option.
Another way agents help consumers to make decisions is to introduce them to companies that are not familiar to them. The likelihood of consumers selecting an unfamiliar company for coverage increases if an agent makes the recommendation. We will share other findings from this survey in the coming weeks in blog posts and webinars.
Findings Compared to 2013 Study
Our latest quantitative study supports a variety of findings from our initial consumer research on seniors. For example, some consumers, also known as “Info-Seekers,” are far more likely to follow a do-it-yourself approach when researching health insurance options after age 65. These individuals will drive the decision-making process but still value agents’ recommendations.
We saw a strong tendency for these individuals to be healthy, and healthier consumers are less likely to desire a high level of agent assistance.
Overall, agent involvement in the decision-making process is valued when consumers are selecting which plan and which company for purchasing their coverage, and they are less likely than unhealthy consumers to review their health insurance options every year. The data also indicates that this group of consumers received a higher level of formal education and has higher household incomes.
Seniors are by far the fastest growing market segment in the United States. It’s also one of the most lucrative. According to the latest U.S. census, this demographic comprises 37 percent of the total U.S. population and will grow to 45 percent this year. Seniors also possess approximately $1.6 trillion of all the disposable income in the country and have a combined household net worth of around $19 trillion. They also spend a cool $7 billion online each year.
| Seven in ten pre-retirees plan to work past the median age of 65; while 37% of retirees’ decision who opted for this approach was based to address post-retirement health care risks and financial management needs in retirement.
In a report by the Society of Actuaries (SOA), “2013 Risks and Process of Retirement Survey,” provides insights on how Americans decide to retire and how they manage resources in retirement.
The survey's findings include:
Please give us your feedback!
Question: Will pro-longing retirement help seniors save money for post-retirement health care risks and financial management needs?
| The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) have decided to keep Medicare Part B monthly premiums at bay.
Medicare Part B helps pay for physician services, medical supplies, and other outpatient services not covered by Medicare Part A service plan.
In 2014, the monthly base actuarial rate for seniors’ participants will be $209.80 per month, while those low to moderate-income enrollees will pay premiums at $104.90.
2013 monthly premium levels remain unchanged and the $147 deductible will continue for Part B plans per year.
Less relevant to participants are the Medicare Part A hospitalization premiums, this is highly due to about 99% of Medicare enrollees qualify for Part A coverage without having to pay a premium, says CMS.
In a notice published at the Federal Register, October 30, CMS notice, CMS-8055-N, enrollees that do pay monthly premiums will range between $15 $426 in 2014.
An income-related monthly adjustments amount has been imposed by the Medicare program on beneficiaries with an annual taxable income less than or equal to $85,000 or joint annual taxable income less than or equal to $170,000, is $104.90.
The most a Medicaid enrollee can pay in monthly premium is $335.70, with an annual taxable income greater than $214,000 or joint annual taxable income greater than $428,000.
Please give us your feedback!
Question: Do you think the government will keep Medicare Part B premiums at bay in 2015 or will there be a premium hike?
In 2013, there are currently 14.4 million Medicare beneficiaries enrolled in Medicare Advantage. This is an increase of more than one million (9.7%) from 2012 and sets a record high for enrollees. Even though there were concerns that payment changes from the Affordable Care Act of 2010 (ACA) would lead to fewer enrollments, it has seen an increase of 30% since 2010. About 28% of Medicare beneficiaries are enrolled in Medicare Advantage plans today and there is very little evidence of an adverse effect on enrollment in low versus high cost counties as a result of payment rate change in the ACA.
This growth is a continuation of the rapid growth in enrollment that occurred at the same time as the introduction of Part D in 2006. Also, the implementation of other changes to the Medicare Advantage program authorized by the Medicare Prescription Drug, Improvement and Modernization Act (MMA) of 2003. This growth has happened despite the fact that the average number of plans available to enrollees nationwide declined from a high of 48 plans in 2009 to only 20 plans in 2012 and 2013.
Please give us your feedback!
Have you seen an increase in your Medicare Advantage business? Does this news make you want to add Medicare Advantage to your senior market portfolio?
Introducing Hospital Indemnity plans designed specifically for Medicare Advantage members that cover Primary Care Doctor Visits, Inpatient Hospital Co-pays or Co-insurance, and much more. The average hospital stay for someone age 65 and over is 5.5 days. Would your average Medicare Advantage client be able to readily cover a $250 per day as a co-payment for days 1-5, totaling $1250?
The Centers of Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) have said that a Hospital Indemnity Plan can be marketed and sold during a Medicare Advantage appointment as long as it was agreed on the Scope of Appointment form. You can also go back to your current clients with Medicare Advantage and do a basic Needs Analysis to see how the Hospital Indemnity Plan will benefit them and limit their out of pocket costs.
Article you may want to take into consideration for future product offering strategies
We are pleased to announce that with Precision Senior Marketing, you now have the opportunity to offer Equitable Life's Medicare Supplement Plans. For over 75 years, Equitable Life has provided top-notch Life and Health insurance plans, backed by superior, friendly personalized service, to consumers and agents across this country.
As you unwind from a hectic AEP and gear up for the holiday season, we thought we’d share something lighthearted for the blog this week. As texting becomes more and more prevalent, I'm sure you’ve noticed your children (or maybe you’ve even done so yourself) adapting acronyms for common phrases to further speed up the process. Phrases like "TTYL" (talk to you later) and even "POTUS" (President of the United States) have taken on a new understanding to those who use them often. Here is a humorous take on those acronyms for the senior crowd.