In the next few months Mutual of Omaha will be implementing some big changes to their Medicare Supplement plans. For seventeen states, their Med Supps will be introduced under different companies in order to offer lower rates, a household discount in most states, and increased commission.
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When discussing your clients’ health care options and planning for their future, Short Term Care (STC) insurance is a great option for them to consider. Though it is human nature to not want to think about something happening to us, in reality sometimes an unexpected illness or accident forces us to change our lifestyle and adjust our finances. Created especially for the Baby Boomer generation, STC Insurance covers the costs of health care recovery. It gives your clients and their family breathing room and peace of mind during times of crisis.
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Even when business is tough and consumers are becoming more selective, there is still a huge potential for agents to increase their commissions and customer portfolios. Plus, for those who are producing more, insurers are beginning to give better leads and the tools to continue to grow their business. "It’s increasing optimization. It’s increasing productivity. For good agents with talent, I would see the opportunities increasing," Marie Carr, principal at PricewaterhouseCoopers Diamond Advisory Services said. Insurers are doing only slightly better than the financial world in this economy; and, they are leaning toward giving more support to those agents writing more business, more profitable business, and more lines of business. Thus, overlooking agents who are not as high of producers. Carr explains, "They’re refining their portfolio of agents."
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Source: Agent's Sales Journal
This week Republican Denny Rehberg put up an amendment to the pending House bill to fund the final seven months of the yearly budget and prohibit administration from using any of the money to put the health-care law into effect. His proposal is likely to make it into the House budget bill. However, Rehberg's bill faces two obstacles: the Democrats control of the Senate and the White House and that most of the funds needed for the law were put into the law itself. The only way to have access to those funds is for Congress to enact legislation rescinding them, which will be hard to do since the Republicans currently only have majority in the House. Therefore, Republican House members are putting wording in the budget bills stating that none of Congress’ operating costs for federal agencies can go toward the health-care law. The money in question is not actually for the law itself, but the administration costs needed to carry it out. If the spending bills are adopted, they could cause these processes to stop. Richard Sorian, spokesman for the Department of Health and Human Services uses the example "Even though the funds for seniors’ checks are not affected, the salary of the person mailing it out is."
What do you think of the efforts by the Republicans to defund the health-care law? Do you think they will be successful? Do you think Congress will be able to come to an agreement by their deadline of March 4, 2011?
Grow Your Business Online - PSM Can Show You How
United of Omaha Now Available in Maine
Effective February 16, 2011 United of Omaha is available in Maine – please see the United of Omaha Maine Rates and Application.
Assured Life Now Available in Tennessee
Sources: KHN, The Washington Post, The Hill
Starting in January more affluent seniors have begun to pay higher premiums for their prescription drug benefits. Since 2007 high income beneficiaries have paid more on a sliding scale for Medicare Part B but this is the first year that scale has included Medicare Part D as well. Additionally, the provision in the health care law froze the income threshold that determines their costs, and it will not be adjusted for inflation through 2019. Senior advocates warn that requiring high-income seniors to pay more for their Medicare premiums might encourage them to look elsewhere for their insurance coverage. This could be significant, as wealthier seniors also tend to be healthier, thus affecting the lower-income seniors left behind with increases. Still, supporters believe it makes sense to require seniors with higher incomes to pay more for their Medicare benefits because it is guarantee issue and community-rated. Switching to private insurance is risky and they doubt that seniors could get a better deal. At this time, James Blum, deputy of the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Service, is not aware of anyone leaving the program because of higher prices for their Part B coverage. Blum is confident more affluent seniors will continue to stay in the Part D program as well, citing that the Part D plan is generous and the 50% discount (beginning this year) on prescription drugs once they reach the doughnut hole. In the past, roughly 5% of Medicare beneficiaries had been paying the higher premiums; however, with the sliding scale no longer in place this will increase to 10% by 2019 raising approximately $36 billion for Medicare.
How do you feel about affluent seniors having to pay higher premiums for their Medicare Part D coverage as well?
The Diminishing Medicare Doughnut Hole
Starting in 2011 seniors who hit the doughnut hole will have substantial discounts on their prescription drugs, increasing over time and completely closing the gap by the year 2020. This is a significant part of the health care law because in the past those who reached the gap often stopped filling their prescriptions due to the financial burden. Previously, Medicare beneficiaries were responsible for 25% of their prescription drug cost and their drug plan paid the extra 75% until they reach a total of $2530 at which time the senior entered the doughnut hole. However starting this year after reaching the doughnut hole beneficiaries will get a 50% brand-name and 7% generic drug discount until they have spent $3607.50. At that time the senior will be out of the doughnut hole and the drug plan will cover approximately 95% of the prescription drugs for the remainder of the year. By 2020 Medicare beneficiaries will only be responsible for 25% of their bill, no matter how large. This year alone the new plan will save approximately 4 million low-income seniors up to $1800 each. However critics believe this will result in drug companies raising the price on their drugs, to cover the difference. A price increase would affect all of those on Medicare not just those in the doughnut hole, creating another problem needing a solution.
What do you think of the new Medicare Part D benefit? Do you think drug companies will raise their prices to cover the difference?
United of Omaha Approved in CA, NE and SD
Effective February 3, 2010 United of Omaha is released in Nebraska and South Dakota – please see the United of Omaha Nebraska Rates and the United of Omaha South Dakota Rates.
Forethought Now Available in KS and UT
Effective February 2, 2011 Forethought is released in Kansas and Utah – please see the Forethought Kansas Rates and Application and the Forethought Utah Rates and Application or call 1-800-998-7715 to get contracted.
Mutual of Omaha has announced underwriting changes to their Plan N Medicare Supplements. This will affect all Mutual of Omaha companies including United World and United of Omaha. Exceptions will include New York, where health questions may not be asked (per state regulations) and in open enrollment or other guarantee issue situations where health questions normally do not apply.
New Application (Required after February 16, 2011)
The underwriting changes will also bring about new applications. Where the new applications are already approved, the new underwriting guidelines will be effective with applications signed on or after February 16th 2011. The states are where the new applications have already been approved are:
This change will also affect commissions on Plans M and N. Mutual of Omaha will have new commission schedules available shortly, but you can expect commissions on all plans to be uniform.
This week the federal regulation allowing Medicare to pay for end-of-life counseling (also called “death panels” by critics) has been reversed, in order to make sure all of the stakeholders had a say in the decision. The regulation was passed in November but people were not allowed to comment until January 3rd. Under this reversal doctors can still talk to their patients about end-of-life plans; however, they will not be paid by Medicare for the discussion. Supporters say advanced planning should be included in Medicare’s new annual well visit, it is important to encourage those with Medicare to plan ahead, and the service adds value to the Medicare benefit. Those opposed say this discussion is highly personal and the government should not be a part of the process. This reversal comes a week before the House is set to vote to repeal President Obama’s health care overhaul.
CVS Caremark to Buy Universal American’s Medicare Prescription Drug Business
Last week, CVS Caremark purchased Universal American’s Medicare Part D business for eight times the operating earnings. This buy-out more than doubles the size of CVS Caremark’s 1.2 million drug plan members; and, the addition of the 1.9 million that have United American makes CVS Caremark a major competitor in a short period of time. Universal American’s stock shares soared over 40% after the news of the deal was announced on Thursday, December 30th, and those stock holders can expect to receive between $12.80 and $13.00 per share for the business. Meanwhile, CVS’s shares values remain the same. The Universal American acquisition makes CVS Caremark a larger competitor to health insurers like UnitedHealth Group, Inc. and Humana, Inc. Also, the merge comes in time for the Baby Boomer generation to begin receiving Medicare benefits, the anticipated shift from employer coverage to Medicare in those who are retired, and Walgreens, CVS’s main competitor and the #1 drug store chain in America, trying to get out of the pharmacy business. Supporters of the acquisition also say that this merger will benefit CVS stores as well, with more people going into the store to pick up their prescriptions and possibly other items they might have gone elsewhere for otherwise.
Beginning Internet Prospecting: Do You Have Any Questions?
It’s bound to have come up at some point in your agency business, either a client asks you for your agency URL, you’re looking for a new way to get leads, or you need a place to share all of your industry knowledge. In the last few years, the internet has completely changed the way we interact and it’s now vital for business to establish an up-to-date internet presence. Fortunately, it’s now easier than ever to get started. Several template-based, user friendly, Content Management System (CMS) website platforms are available for you to use, with little to no HTML or coding knowledge. We at Precision Senior Marketing use Hubspot; however, Joomla, Intuit, and Wordpress (as well as several others) are also good options. Or, if you do not have the time to create your website yourself, you can hire a graphic design or marketing firm team of professionals to create something completely custom to your agency. It is important to remember your website should be professional, give a great first impression, and be a reflection of who you are as an agent. New to selling Medicare Supplements? Mastering the art of Medicare Supplements is a great place to start.
United of Omaha Phase VI - CA, CO, KS, ME, NE, NJ, and SDUnited of Omaha has proposed NEW Medicare Supplement rates for California, Colorado, Kansas, Maine, Nebraska, New Jersey, and South Dakota, tentatively effective 02/01/2011 (pending state approval). With Ultra-competitive rates, excellent commissions and a name your clients will know and trust, this is an opportunity you cannot afford to pass up. Partner with PSM and ensure you have the most competitive edge in the Senior Market. Request more information now or call 1-800-998-7715 for more information.
Sentinel Life Rate Increase for LouisianaEffective for all Louisiana applications signed on or after January 14, 2011 there are new rates for Sentinel Life Medicare Supplement LA and Sentinel Life Medicare Select LA. Call 1-800-998-7715 to get contracted with Sentinel Life.
Sources: KHN, Reuters, Agent’s Sales Journal, Politico, The Associated Press