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Don’t Take Your Individual Clients for Granted

This seems like an obvious statement, doesn’t it? In fact, it’s almost insulting – the idea that you might not be doing whatever’s necessary to earn your clients’ business every single year. We don’t mean it that way. The truth is that most agents reach out to their clients at renewal time each year, but most of the time no changes are necessary. If your customers are happy with their plan, their family situation and health status hasn’t changed significantly, and the renewal offer is reasonable, most people would rather stay put than to shop around and go through the hassle of changing their health insurance.

Of course, as we all know, these aren’t normal times—far from it. In this, the fourth annual open enrollment period under the health reform law, the majority of our individual clients will require our attention. And you know the reasons why:

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Many of us in the industry are stunned at the results of the presidential election. So, what does this mean for us, and how will this affect how we do business in the future? In this post, we’ll share a few thoughts about what a Trump presidency will mean for the health insurance industry.

First, it’s important to note that President-Elect Trump will have an opportunity that President Obama hasn’t had for the last six years; his party will control both the House of Representatives and the Senate. That’s big. What does that mean for us? The Republicans will have the ability to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA) with the support of President-Elect Trump.

And that brings up a big question: What they will replace the ACA with? We know that Trump supports selling insurance across state lines, expanding Health Savings Accounts, and possibly offering an individual tax credit for people with health insurance. The rest of Trump’s plans with regard to health insurance remain unclear. We’ll keep you updated as we get more information on their replacement proposals.

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One Last Chance to Sell Medicare this Fall

The Annual Election Period for Medicare Advantage and Medicare Part D plans has started (October 15th) and runs through December 7, which means you have very little time to get certified to sell these products if you haven’t already. And maybe that is your plan—to leave this market to agents who don’t mind the one-on-one nature of Medicare sales and are comfortable navigating a government website to find the best solution for their clients. Fair enough. But before you completely dismiss selling Medicare products, we wanted to share a few last-minute thoughts with you.

There’s an opportunity to earn commission

For some agents, this is all that they need to hear. Medicare products actually pay pretty well. How much? Take a look at the following numbers:

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Preventive Services for Medicare Beneficiaries

In a recent post, we discussed the preventive services that are covered on all non-grandfathered health plans under the Affordable Care Act. Since many of you have recently started selling Medicare products—either in addition to or in lieu of individual health insurance—we thought it would also be a good idea to take a look at the preventive care available to Medicare beneficiaries.

While we’ll focus on Original Medicare (or Medicare and a supplement) in this article, keep in mind that Medicare Advantage plans are required to cover, at a minimum, the same services that Medicare does. That means you can feel comfortable talking with all of your Medicare clients about these preventive services, and that’s important because, until recently, Medicare didn’t provide much preventive care at all. Older clients who have had Medicare for a while may not realize that these preventive benefits were added.

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What to Expect in 2017 Part Three of Three

This is the third and final post in a three-part series about the changes we can expect next year. In part one, we pointed out that we’ll have a new President, Congress, and Supreme Court Justice in 2017, and that combination could mean big changes for the Affordable Care Act. In part two, we talked about the more immediate and mostly negative changes to the health insurance products we’re selling, particularly those in the individual market: higher premiums, higher cost sharing, smaller provider networks, and fewer competitors. In this post, we’ll discuss a few practice management considerations for agents—things you need to consider when determining what market segments you’ll focus on, what products you’ll recommend to clients who can’t afford major medical coverage, and how you’ll get paid for your efforts.

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What to Expect in 2017 Part Two of Three

This is part two of a three-part series about what we can expect as we head into 2017. In part one, we examined the three big political changes: a new President, a new Congress, and a new Supreme Court Justice. In this section, we’ll look at some of the big changes we can expect with the products we sell, particularly those in the individual market.

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What to Expect in 2017 Part One of Three

For those who thought things would settle down by now—nearly seven years after the ACA was signed into law—think again. It’s pretty clear that 2017 will be another tumultuous year, so we thought it would be a good idea to look ahead and tell you what’s on the horizon for the year to come.  There are too many changes to cover in a single article, so we’ll tackle a few at a time. In this three-part series, we’ll discuss the big 1) political developments, 2) product changes, and 3) practice management considerations for 2017. Let’s start off with the upcoming election and what it could mean for the health reform law.

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When you enter the voting booth in November, there are lot of things to consider and a lot of reasons to vote for—or against—one of the two major candidates running for President. This article has nothing to do with that. Everyone has their own political issues that are important to them, and it’s not our job to tell you how to vote. That said, we know that agents are concerned about how this election might affect the Affordable Care Act in 2017 and beyond, and we also know that your clients will be looking to you for guidance. With that in mind, we believe this is a great time for a quick overview of both Hillary Clinton’s and Donald Trump’s health care proposals. You can get more information on the Clinton and Trump campaign websites.

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For the past few months, we’ve commented several times that we’re not sure what’s going to happen with the individual market this fall while continuing to point out that it could be a mess. If you’ve kept up with the news over the past several weeks, now you see why. A number of major carriers have announced that they won’t participate in the federal or state marketplaces in 2017, and those that remain are making a number of premium and plan design adjustments that our clients won’t be too happy with. That’s why it’s probably time for a “sit down” with your individual clients, particularly the ones receiving a premium tax credit. You need to set expectations for them as we head into the ACA’s fourth annual open enrollment period.

Here are the five main items you’ll want to cover:

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Shortly after the Affordable Care Act was signed into law, insurance carriers across the nation, particularly in the individual market, slashed the commissions they pay to agents and brokers.

This was due, in part, to the minimum Medical Loss Ratio requirement that went into effect in 2011. Because carriers are required to spend 80% of collected premium dollars on claims, they must be careful with the remaining 20%; they can no longer afford to pay 10% or more to agents.

There was, however, another reason. Carriers seemed to buy in to the idea that the ACA policies would sell themselves. After all, the government promised carriers up to 30 million new customers; and they were designing a self-service website that insurance shoppers could use to purchase coverage, without the help of an insurance advisor.

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