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2017 Year-End Wrap Up

As we near the end of another year, it’s time to close the books on 2017 and look ahead to 2018. As we do, it’s helpful to review the big news stories from the last 12 months and determine whether they’ll carry over to the next calendar year or just be interesting moments in history that we can look back on but stop worrying about.

It certainly was an eventful year, one that’s worthy of a series of articles, but we’ll keep it as short as possible. And instead of a timeline of events, we’re separating the big health insurance news stories into two categories: 1) over-and-done-with and 2) ongoing. Hopefully, you’ll find this beneficial as you map out your success strategy for 2018.

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What type of coverage do you have?

We know—that’s a weird question, but it is a relevant one. Insurance agents don’t just sell individual and group health insurance policies; most are also covered by one. And that means that many of you are facing the same challenges that your clients have: finding an affordable plan that protects you from financial loss and covers your doctor visits and prescriptions. The trouble is, plans that check off all of these requirements are pretty rare, so you probably have to make some of the same sacrifices as your clients.

Ask yourself these questions.

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New People Are Signing Up For Marketplace Coverage

In the insurance industry, we all know that the main reason to purchase health insurance is because we’re unable to predict the future. Unexpected and potentially catastrophic injuries and illnesses do happen, and when they do, people with health insurance tend to fare much better financially than those without.

The Affordable Care Act (ACA) created some additional incentives to purchase health insurance:

  • Plans are guaranteed issue, meaning your clients can’t be turned down.
  • Pre-existing conditions are covered with no exclusions, waiting periods, or surcharges.
  • Premium tax credits help people with incomes up to 400% of the federal poverty level pay their monthly premiums.
  • Cost sharing subsidies reduce the out-of-pocket exposure for those with incomes below 250% of the federal poverty level.
  • Essential Health Benefits ensure that today’s plans meet people’s needs.

Yet, some people dismiss all of these great reasons and choose instead to remain uninsured.

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The Medical-Dental Connection

As a general rule, people don’t like health insurance. It’s confusing, the premiums are difficult for many people to afford, and those without serious or chronic conditions may never hit the deductible, reducing their perceived value of the plan.

Most people do, however, like dental insurance. For them, dental coverage gives them the possibility of healthy, attractive teeth, and that can have a big impact on their self-esteem. Just do a quick Google search for “nice teeth self-esteem” and you’ll find a plethora of articles that discuss a connection between a person’s oral health and their general well-being. An article in Mental Health Matters puts it this way: “Our teeth can influence how we look, speak, eat, chew, taste, socialize, and enjoy life. If you have a healthy mouth, you are more likely to have greater self-confidence.”

For these reasons, a lot of people are happy to invest in dental insurance. It’s a tenth of the price of health insurance, provides more first-dollar benefits than most health plans, and can have a big impact on a person’s quality of life. If you’re not offering health insurance to those who ask you about it, you’re missing an opportunity and may be doing a disservice to your clients. Fortunately, AHCP has a number of dental options if you’d like to add them to your portfolio.

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One Last Political Update (for now…)

What a crazy summer it’s been for the health insurance industry. Since it appears the “repeal and replace” efforts are done — for now, anyway — we thought we’d provide a quick recap of what happened and, more importantly, what didn’t’ happen. We’d also like to take a look at what happens next. After all, we’re entering the Open Enrollment period for the individual market, and this one promises to be unlike any we’ve seen before.

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With all of the news about the CSR (Cost Sharing Reduction) payments, which President Trump halted on October 12, your clients are probably asking you to explain what exactly happened and, more importantly, how it affects them. It’s easy to understand why they might be confused—this is a political issue, so many of the reports on the topic are one-sided arguments from people who may have their own agenda.

Here are a few talking points that will help you explain the issue to your clients.

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Does your computer autocorrect HSA? Here’s the fix.

As the number of Health Savings Accounts has increased in recent years, agents across the country have become increasingly frustrated with the way their computers “autocorrect” the letters “HSA,” converting the acronym to an all-cap version of the word “HAS.” It’s annoying, isn’t it?

Some people attempt to overcome this built-in Microsoft Office glitch by hitting backspace a few times and typing “HSA” a second time. When you type the same thing two times in a row, Office seems to realize that you actually meant to spell it the way you did. Other brokers will leave a space between the letters, so it becomes H S A in your emails and other writings. Still others will put a period between each letter: H.S.A. That sort of makes sense since “HSA” is short for “Health Savings Account,” so putting dots between the letters is technically correct. The problem, though, is that there are a million acronyms in the insurance industry, but we don’t normally include periods when writing them.

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It’s now been a year since the 2016 presidential election and nearly ten months since inauguration day. By now, most of us expected major portions of the Affordable Care Act to be repealed and thought the individual mandate would be one of the first parts to go. That hasn’t happened, of course, which means that our clients are still required to purchase health insurance or face a penalty under the ACA’s shared responsibility provision.

In short, the individual mandate requires people to:

  • Have “minimum essential coverage” each month of the year (from a group or individual policy or from a government program like Medicare or Medicaid),
  • Qualify for one of the many available exemptions, OR
  • Make a shared responsibility payment when they file their taxes if they don’t’ have MEC
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Using Headlines to Sell More Insurance

In previous articles, we’ve talked about the power of social media to generate leads and stay in touch with clients and prospects. Specifically, we’ve explained that content marketing, in which you share some valuable information in a way that doesn’t sound too salesy, can be especially effective at maintaining interest and creating likes and shares.

In addition to providing helpful information to your clients, there’s another reason to share current news stories: it can help you sell more insurance. This works best when you find a news story that directly relates to a solution you have available. Here are a few examples.

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Final Expense: Something Everyone Needs

They say the only two things in life that are guaranteed are death and taxes, and since most of us aren’t CPAs, we should probably focus our attention on the former rather than the latter.

Hopefully, you’re already selling life insurance. If you’re not, there are three good reasons to consider it:

  1. Your clients need it.
  2. If you don’t recommend it to your clients, chances are nobody else will.
  3. The commissions are great.

Life insurance, of course, isn’t for people who die but rather for the loved ones who outlive them. It helps to replace some of the lost income from the person who passes away and helps beneficiaries preserve their current lifestyle.

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