Remember the good old days when agents took a test, got licensed, and then simply had to complete a few continuing education classes each year to maintain their license? Not anymore. If you sell in either the individual or the Medicare markets, the government requires agents to complete annual training to remain certified to sell through the Federally Facilitated Marketplace (FFM). And guess what? It’s that time of the year again.
Consumers come in all shapes and sizes, and as a result you need different strategies for selling to different consumers. For instance, some people understand the need for health insurance and have plenty of funds to buy it. While they may be a minority, they’re the type of clients that immediately understand the value of having health insurance, and these types of clients are more likely to result in a simple sale for you. But, many other sales take a bit more effort.
When consumers buy less coverage, the cost of that coverage is supposed to go down. But that’s not what’s happened in recent years. Deductibles and out-of-pocket costs are higher than ever before, and so are monthly premiums—for millions of Americans, the new ACA plans really aren’t all that affordable.
For agents, when premiums go up, you’d expect to commissions to go up as well, but that’s not the case. First-year commissions on individual plans were slashed back in 2011; many carriers have cut renewal commissions even further; and some carriers have stopped paying commissions altogether.
It’s hard to believe, but on March 23rd the Affordable Care Act turned six years old. The time’s flown by, hasn’t it? By now you’ve learned how to adapt to the changes created by the law, and you may have even grown your business and your income over the past few years.
Still, many brokers and a lot of their clients aren’t entirely thrilled with the health reform law. While it has lowered the rates for some small businesses and helped millions of people gain health insurance coverage, it’s also increased the prices for other employers and individuals. Those who win tend to like the law; those forced to pay more may have a different opinion.
Either way, at this point most people agree the law is here to stay. After all, it’s already survived two Supreme Court challenges, a presidential election, and a government shutdown—history is definitely on its side. Nonetheless, we’re in the middle of another election season, and once again the leading Republican candidates are promising to “repeal and replace” Obamacare.
The individual insurance market is seeing some hard-hitting changes. Premiums in many markets have increased more than expected, deductibles and out-of-pocket costs continue to go up, and now some carriers are beginning to drop their popular PPO plans.
Dropping of the PPO plans is a new concern and consumers seem to be continually required to pay more and more for less and less coverage. You may be asking yourself, how do sell health insurance if my clients can’t see their preferred health care providers? Many of the newer plans being offered, both on and off the Marketplace, have more restrictive network HMO plans with no non-emergency out-of-network options.
The answer, it’s not easy, but it can be done. People tend to get pretty attached to their doctors, and many also have a hospital of choice, so they will be more reluctant to buy a plan that doesn’t include those preferred providers. This may seem like a no-win situation for you, and some brokers may be considering giving up on selling individual health insurance. Before you start having similar ideas, we thought we’d share some of our thoughts with you about how we view the reality of selling these smaller network HMO plans.
More and more people these days are working past age 65, so many of them have a tough decision to make: should they stay on the company’s group health plan, drop the group coverage and enroll in Medicare, or sign up for both the group health plan and Medicare? The answer, like many in the insurance world, depends on the employee’s own unique situation. This post, while not comprehensive, will point out some of the things people need to consider when evaluating their coverage options.
Sooner or later, we’ll all have them: final expenses. When we pass away, there are a number of bills yet to be paid. The funeral, of course, is the big one for most people; burials, caskets, services, this all costs money. There are other expenses that happen as well; like medical bills, helping family and friends fly in for the service, and more. That’s where final expense insurance can help.
It seems everyone would be a good prospect for a final expense policy, but that’s not necessarily the case. Most people don’t even start thinking about it until age 50 or later and more affluent individuals may not need it, they have enough savings to cover those costs. We think the best prospects for final expense insurance are people over the age of 50 and who have low-to-moderate incomes. And the good news is you probably already have several existing clients who fit this demographic.
HHS changes transition rules AGAIN. Ok, it’s starting to get a bit ridiculous. Every time brokers think they have the ACA figured out, the government changes the rules. It happened again just recently. Before we tell you about the rule change, though, here’s a quick summary of how we got here.
The Affordable Care Act, signed into law six years ago, makes a number of changes to the small group market. Some of these changes occurred in 2010 and 2011, but the biggest changes were scheduled to begin on the employer’s renewal date in 2014. These “market reforms” require all ACA-qualified plans to cover the law’s “essential health benefits” and prohibit small group fully insured carriers from rating based on gender or medical conditions.
Everyone needs insurance to help protect them, and their family members, from financial loss when something unexpected happens:
If you’ve heard Bernie Sanders speak, you know that he would like to expand the Medicare program to all Americans. “Medicare for All” is the proposal, and the idea is that the government’s Medicare program works well for seniors and would be a good replacement for the Affordable Care Act. For brokers who have been selling individual plans through Healthcare.gov or one of the state-based exchanges, it may come as a surprise that any health care program in which the government is involved could run smoothly, but this one has been around for 50 years now and doesn’t appear to be going anywhere. For that reason, and because agents are looking for an alternative to the ACA plans they’ve focused their attention on for the past couple years, we’ve received a lot of requests recently for information about Medicare-related products, so we thought a short tutorial might be in order.
To begin with, Medicare is a government-run health insurance program that was signed into law in 1965 by President Lyndon B. Johnson. Currently, people age 65 or older, people with certain disabilities, and people with End Stage Renal Disease (ESRD) are eligible to participate in Medicare. The program, which is administered by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), covers nearly 54 million Americans, and as the baby boomers continue to age, another eight thousand people become eligible for Medicare every single day.
Originally, there were two parts to Medicare: Part A and Part B. Today, this is referred to as “Original Medicare,” and most people find that the protection offered by Medicare A and B is not enough.