Everyone’s busy these days. And sometimes, the busy lifestyles we lead can have a negative effect on our health. Busy people often fail to get enough sleep, skip breakfast, get stressed out while sitting in traffic, eat junk food during the day because it’s quicker and easier than eating healthy, don’t drink enough water while at work, skip the gym because they’re too tired or don’t have time, and, yes, fail to go to the doctor on a regular basis. Instead of taking care of themselves like they should, they wait until they get sick, and then they want a quick fix so they can get back to their busy lives.
The fact that people should probably slow down, take a breath, smell the roses, and relax more is a topic for another day. In this article, we’ll share some ideas that you can pass on to your busy clients so they can get the most out of their health plan and fit much-needed health care into their busy schedules. If you have difficulty scheduling a meeting with some of your clients because they never have any time, they might benefit from these ideas.
A presidential election year can seem like a time of uncertainty. The current President is trying to hang on to his job while other candidates—in this case, a couple dozen other candidates—are busy explaining all the things that they will change if they are able to unseat him. Other elected officials are up for re-election as well, so there are plenty of proposals and promises and criticisms and sound bites. With all of the noise, it’s easy to understand why people are unsure about what will happen in the months and years ahead.
Interestingly, though, the period we’re in right now, about 15 months before the 2020 election, is actually a time of stability in the health insurance industry. Why? Because very few major changes are likely to happen between now and the election. Everyone is talking about what they want to do, but in the meantime they’re not doing much of anything at all. We have a divided Congress that can’t agree on most issues and certainly not on health care, so there’s almost no chance that a bill expanding or repealing the ACA will make it to the President’s desk.
The Internal Revenue Service has announced the 2020 deductible, out-of-pocket, and contribution limits for Health Savings Accounts.
Compared with 2019, the minimum deductible for people with single coverage increased by $50 from $1,350 to $1,400 while the minimum deductible for people with family coverage increased by $100 from $2,700 to $2,800. The out-of-pocket limit increased more significantly, from $6,750 to $6,900 for people with single coverage and from $13,500 to $13,800 for people with family coverage. That is still far less than the out-of-pocket limit for non-HSA plans in 2020.
In May, The Hill reported that “A crowd broke out into chants of ‘PowerPoint, PowerPoint, PowerPoint,’ at Democratic presidential hopeful and entrepreneur Andrew Yang’s” rally in Seattle after the candidate announced that he would use PowerPoint in his State of the Union address if he wins the election. Yang has admitted that his is “the nerdiest presidential campaign in history,” but clearly his idea has resonated with some voters.
Perhaps the reason people like the promise of a visual aid during a presidential speech is because, according to Forbes, “Humans are visual creatures” and “65 percent of us are visual learners.” That’s why infographics are so popular: because people understand pictures better than they do the written or spoken word. These sorts of visuals are useful tools when trying to explain difficult and abstract concepts, like those presented during a political campaign.
On Friday, July 19, a federal district court judge in DC sided with the Trump administration in its defense of a rule expanding short-term, limited duration health insurance plans to twelve months with the option to renew the coverage for up to three years. The plans had been limited to three months under the Obama administration, which thought they could weaken the individual markets, but, as Modern Healthcare explains, Judge Richard J. Leon believed the potential benefits outweighed the potential harm. He writes in his decision that “Not only is any potential negative impact from the 2018 rule minimal, but its benefits are undeniable.”
As provider networks continue to shrink and more non-network facilities like free-standing emergency rooms pop up, it’s crucial that brokers explain the importance of staying in network to their clients.
Most brokers do, of course. As we present options to clients and prospects, we discuss the difference between more flexible but more costly PPO plans and less costly but more restrictive HMO plans. It’s a tradeoff; some clients choose a PPO for the larger provider pool while others are willing to go through the referral process in order to get a more competitive rate. In either case, most advisors stress that the in-network benefits are far better than any out-of-network benefits that are included in the plan.
Most agents who sell group health coverage, and some that sell individual as well, create a spreadsheet in order to present the plans in an “apples to apples” format so their clients can quickly narrow down their options. While the spreadsheet can be a useful tool when comparing dissimilar plans by helping the client focus on the most important benefits, one big disadvantage of a quote spreadsheet is that it minimizes the characteristics of a health plan that differentiate it from the other options.
Do you know what your close ratio is? What percentage of your prospects actually turn into clients? If you don’t know, it might be a good idea to start keeping track of this information. It will help you determine what sales techniques work and help identify areas of improvement.
Unless you’ve been in the business long enough to be grandfathered, you’re probably required by your home state to complete a couple dozen continuing education hours each license renewal period.
Most agents see this requirement as a negative—something they have to do instead of something they get to do. But maybe there’s a better way of looking at it. Continuing education classes can help agents keep up with changes in the industry, learn about new solutions, clarify their understanding, expand into other product lines, and gain insight into what their competitors are doing. When taking in a classroom setting with other agents, CE courses provide agents with great networking opportunities, and there are some events that offer credit not only for agents but also for HR managers, giving brokers an opportunity to invite some of their most important clients.
For those who qualify, short-term health plans can be a great alternative to ACA compliant individual plans, especially now that the individual mandate penalty has been reduced to zero. True, short-term plans do not cover preventive care or pre-existing conditions, and they are not guarantee issue like individual plans are, but they do offer much lower monthly premiums than individual plans.
And now that the administration has increased the maximum length of a “short-term” plan to twelve months, with the ability to renew for up to three years in many states, individuals who use utilize health care less, do not have chronic conditions, and have a tight budget may have the opportunity to save on their health insurance one year at a time.