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Do Something with Your Time

As we enter the second quarter, this is officially the slow time of the year. The phone has stopped ringing off the wall, and you’ve settled back into your normal insurance routine. So we have a question:

What are you doing with all your free time?

If you’re not being productive, the truth is that you’re just wasting time, and we know you don’t want to do that. To make sure you’re making the most of your time, here are a few ideas about what you can do with the extra hours in the day.

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Five Percent of People Have Huge Medical Bills

A recent article from Health Leaders Media summarizes the results of a global study from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) at the University of Washington. Here are a few of the findings:

  • “The United States exceeds every other nation in total healthcare costs.”
  • The average cost of an outpatient visit in the United States is nearly $500.
  • The average inpatient stay in the United States costs more than $22,000.
  • Higher utilization is observed among females during reproductive years.
  • “[G]lobally, visits per person and admissions per person increase with age, beginning around age 25 for visits, and age 50 for admissions.”
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Why Medicare Advantage?

The Annual Election Period (AEP) for Medicare Advantage and Medicare Part D prescription drug plans runs from October 15 to December 7. During this time of the year, Medicare recipients can join an Advantage plan, switch from one Advantage plan to another, or leave their Advantage plan and return to Original Medicare.

If you work with Medicare clients, they may be asking you what the advantages are of joining an Advantage plan. There are several, but here are three that you might want to point out.

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New Hospital Transparency Rule

A new rule intended to increase price transparency went into effect January 1st of this year. The rule, issued by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) on August 2, 2018, requires “hospitals to make publicly available a list of their standard charges or their policies for allowing the public to view this list upon request…on the Internet in a machine-readable format.”

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Drug Makers Increase Prices for 2019

In 2019, some of the nation’s largest pharmaceutical companies, after holding prices steady for much of 2018, announced they are raising the cost on hundreds of drugs. You probably saw some of the headlines.

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New Rule Could Increase Premiums and Out-of-Pockets

The Wall Street Journal recently reported on proposed changes by the Trump Administration “that could raise health insurance costs for millions of Americans who get coverage on the job or receive subsidies under the Affordable Care Act.” As they explain, the two sides continue to bicker about the Affordable Care Act: “Republicans say subsidies for consumers are inflated; Democrats see another effort to sabotage the health law.”

The proposed changes they are referring to are found in the Notice of Benefit and Payment Parameters for 2020. This is an annual notice released by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) that sets the standards for issuers and exchanges for the coming year.

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Healthcare.gov Enrollment Numbers

Marketplace enrollment is down this year. Way down. At least that’s the conclusion one might reach by looking at the enrollment trend graph on the Kaiser Family Foundation website.

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Medicare Changes for 2019

Each year, Medicare makes changes to the Part A and B out-of-pocket expenses, monthly premium for Part B, and premium adjustment thresholds for Part B and Part D. Here are the figures for 2019.

Cost Sharing

Medicare Part A requires beneficiaries to pay a portion of the cost of hospital and skilled nursing stays.

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Are you teaching your kids the business?

Most of us didn’t grow up wanting to be insurance agents. Instead, the majority of insurance professionals found their way into the business by accident. There are a million stories, but what we’ve heard again and again from brokers across the country is that 1) they sort of stumbled into the industry, 2) now that they’re here, they really like it and don’t want to leave, and 3) they wish they had started when they were younger.

That brings up an interesting question: are you teaching your kids the business? And if not, why not?

There are all sorts of things that make health insurance an excellent career choice.

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Don’t Give Clients Options, Give Them Guidance

There’s been a trend in the insurance industry over the past few years. Brokers across the country have invested in technology that allows them to quickly and easily provide quotes to clients in an “apples to apples” format so that the client can make a buying decision, often without any additional input from the agent. Many agents even have quote engines on their website that allow clients to run the quotes and apply for coverage on their own without ever talking with the broker. With today’s tools, brokers can literally sell insurance in their sleep.

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