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The Medicare Rights Center signed onto a letter, along with all 50 state and national organizations urging the Biden Administration to open a Special Election Period for Medicare beneficiaries for Part C (Medicare Advantage) and Part D (drug plans.) The administration did so in January for those Under 65 but neglected to address those most vulnerable to the effects of Covid – the senior population.
In part, the letter reads:
Specifically, we request the immediate reinstatement of two critical COVID-19 related Medicare
enrollment flexibilities: the Special Enrollment Period for Part C and Part D2 and Equitable Relief for
Premium Part A and Part B.3 These policies should remain in effect through December 31 of the year the
public health emergency ends, at a minimum, and coverage should begin no later than the first day of the
month following enrollment.
There's a bit of a conundrum, a dichotomy, if you will, in the sales world, where you have to be ambitious, you have to have a go getter attitude.
And you cannot be easily dissuaded and give up before you start having progress.
At the same time, though, there is such a thing as a person with too much ambition. Let me explain. Had a person working for me, who was very ambitious, wanted to be on the leaderboard, wanted to be highly productive, and did everything this person could do to write as many policies as possible.
Sometimes, when blinded by an unhealthy dose of too much ambition, a person can start to take shortcuts, a person can start to forget to do things that are otherwise impediments to doing more business. And by forgetting to do things I mean, in this case, for getting to ask health questions on Underwritten application, just first, a little bit here and a little bit there, like when the application for health insurance asks,
“Who's your current doctor?”
“What are your current medications?”
And this person, you know, answers all the health questions on the application, but then leaves out the doctors then leaves out the drugs or just put someone and then come to find out starts answering, or asking less and less and less questions of the client.
Because when you ask all the questions appropriately, sometimes not everyone is going to get approved. So what does that mean? If you're blind ambition is to an unhealthy level, it starts making a person who has less integrity than they should to be in this business, to be literally responsible for someone's health or not to get a procedure paid for or not simply because a person in a capacity of as an agent lies on an application.
Now, is it a lie or is an omission?
I would argue it makes no difference. If someone tells you “YES” to a question on diabetes with complications, for example, and you click “NO”, they've got diabetes with complications. And you put No, that's a lie. If, however, you don't even ask the health questions. That is an omission. It's the same thing as a lie.
If someone went to four specialists in the last three months, and you omitted all that information, and you submitted that application, as if it's the factual upon which the basis of the insurance company will decide whether or not to give that person coverage, or then later to potentially exclude coverage because they identify a material omission on the application, then for all intents and purposes, the agent lied.
Now, why did the person choose to do this? Because they had to have that next sale, had to have that next application.
The reason why insurance companies check the credit of the agents that their contracting is because they know that if your credit score is too bad, then the agent gets too desperate and they start doing shady things bad business. That does happen all the time. So we have to look out for in our industry that we don't get too hungry, that we're willing to do absolutely anything to get the business because there's a healthy balance between doing the right thing for the client, for the carrier and for yourself. And when you start blurring the lines when you accept a little bit of dishonesty, it gets easier and easier and easier.
I challenge you my fellow agents in the community maintain an impeccable credential and reputation.
The Bible says that a reputation is very hard to get. And it's a very valuable thing, a good reputation.
Proverbs 21:22 A good name is to be chosen rather than great riches, and favor is better than silver or gold.
And it's true. And all it takes is one accusation, one client making a complaint to the Department of Insurance. Or one case, in our case of an agent being terminated for cause for lying on an application that then by our state law, we are then obligated to report to the Department of Insurance. We have to, if an agent is terminated for cause for lying on an application could ruin a person's life. And it's really not worth it. If you do everything with integrity, sooner or later, that's going to catch up with you.
If you do everything without integrity, and you take that slippery slope, and you go that easier route easier, easier, easier.
You start asking less and less questions on the application. On a life insurance question I've literally heard an agent say
“All I need for the life insurance application is who your beneficiary is.”
No, that's not all you need. It's really not.
Because you're purporting to fill out an application based on 30 health questions or something. So it gets easier and easier to lie, cheat and steal, just for the sole purpose of getting a commission that I would argue you have to fight every day to maintain your integrity, don't even let it in. Don't even let a glimpse of it in not even a blip. Not even one little thing that a person Oh, I forgot to ask that question. I'll just go ahead and wing it. I'll do I'm sure it'll be fine.
Luke 12:2 “There is nothing concealed that will not be disclosed, and nothing hidden that will not be made known.”
That's true. And if there becomes a certain pattern, like we saw in this situation, and we go back to another one and another one and another one, and they can see literally a pattern of getting worse and worse and worse.
So I encourage you to go forward with integrity.
There's plenty of business, there's plenty of healthy enough people out there.
There are plenty of people out there who are going to give you referrals of other good people like them. If you keep on pressing toward the mark of doing things with integrity, there's enough business, you'll do it the right way.
You don't need to take shortcuts and you don't need to look for the magic pill. The magic pill is hard work.
It's talking to enough people. It's sorting the people like you're supposed to, because you're representing not only the client, but also the insurance company. And if everybody was just out there willy nilly answering all the questions no or never even asking the questions in the first place, insurance itself would be unaffordable for other people to buy. We have to set a higher bar in our industry so that we, as insurance professionals, get and then maintain higher reputation than we enjoy right now.
Making over $150 to up to $300 per sale (the difference between what the agent will make) is a HUGE incentive to push Medicare Advantage vs. Medicare Supplement.These new agents are discovering that they have been misled, or at least, left out of the education about the alternative to keeping Original Medicare and using a Supplement plan to fill in the gaps. Be careful when looking for Medicare sales Jobs on Indeed! See the video:
The insurance industry has, for the past 15 years at least, been moving faster and faster toward telephone transactions only.
Whether it is hurricane season, snow-blocked roads, or spreading viruses where seniors are most vulnerable, seniors would much rather NOT have you come inside their home in 2020 and beyond.
More than ever before, seniors are more likely to trust a licensed agent on the phone and the difficulties of the 1990's in this arena have almost completely disappeared.
Where, in the past, insurance agents would need to scramble to create trust and credibility as to the process of conducting business by phone, today it is completely normal, even for seniors, to conduct all financial transactions by telephone and online. Insurance is no different.
With all of the insurance companies now offering easy online enrollment tools for agents, most not requiring a signature of any kind, it has never been easier to run our business 100% over the phone.
Our internal agency has been growing in leaps and bounds and there is no stopping the growth.
The number of products and services now being offered 100% online means that agents must make a choice: Either be limited by travel, distance, and physical constraints of how many clients you can help in a day or be unlimited by using the telephone, a headset, and simply-scalable office helpers who can continue to grow your enterprise without experiencing rain, sleet, snow, hurricanes or yes, even pandemic viruses!
While many FMO's (Field Marketing Organizations that sell insurance products) continue to spend 99% of their time pushing contracts onto new agents, there is one organization that has existed since 2013 with the sole purpose to share real, actionable intel to agents from being an actual practitioner… An organization that actually sells insurance to the senior community each and every day and actually shares what they've learned and what is working on the site: Medicare Agent Training.com
So, while pushing contracts is not the goal of this organization, top-level contracts are available via SellMedicareByPhone.com Actual agent success is why this site exists and it is knowledgable support that has made the difference in the lives of countless agents in the site's first 7 years of existence.
Near-24 hour support on how to issue the right case to the right client at the right time with the right product and carrier exists via immediate-response support tickets on the MedicareAgentTraining site for members.
This feature, alone, has saved thousands of client acquisitions for agents who simply did not know what they could do in particular situations, often involving unique special election periods that their prospective client could qualify for. And yet still, the contract-pushing FMO's know nothing except what new company is offering what bonus, and what they have been told to push, by management.
Updates from industry insiders are provided to site members.
These are updates from top producers, not contract pushers or seminar promoters.
“Do as I do, not as I say.“, is the motto at Medicare Agent Training.
We help agents to effectively communicate to seniors and efficiently deliver the right product from the right carrier at the right time.
Seniors don't want you at their front door.
They don't want to get dressed up, put the dog away, or offer you something to drink.
They do it because it is polite. But driving to their house, confirming they are home, knocking on their door, even putting gas in your car to do all of the above – complete unnecessary waste of time.
They want their problem solved in the easiest way possible, and that is by phone.
The internet is abuzz with promotion after promotion toward agents. Everyone calls themselves an expert these days with the goal of recruiting more agents to follow them like the pied piper. <
I just got yelled at by a client. It was not one of MY clients, but another agent for “forgot” to tell her new client that they would also have to cancel their OLD Medicare insurance policy now that they have gone to her.
The importance of checklists, when selling insurance, cannot be overstated. Without one, sometimes we forget each and every detail that MUST be effectively communicated to the new client. Forgetting just one can have tragic financial consequences for the client.
See the After Application Checklist on the Tools You Need page.
See the video:
Spring Venture Group is an Icon
With their main location in Kansas City, Missouri, Spring Venture group now has over 700 agents in their building. They are expanding into other locations and soon will be over 1,000 agents, all selling Medicare products all over the phone. How? They are creating their own online leads and they are converting those leads into new customers.
Why is this working?
The business model of selling Medicare products over the phone is not new anymore.
Several folks, like Richard Cantu, who sold his GoMediGap.com phone-sales agency for nearly $50 Million to E-Health with the same business model, and Chris Guliani of Spring Venture Group have proven that this concept of online lead generation to telephone sales conversion works on as big of a scale as you would want to grow.
I had a chance to meet with Chris Guliani (SVG's CEO) in 2018 on a carrier trip to Portugal:
Actually, Richard Cantu was there, too, as was Jagger Esch of MedicareFAQ, another hugely successful phone-based Medicare agency in Florida who also uses online advertising to great success, and Taylor Martin of Senior Security Benefits in Texas, another super-successful phone-based insurance marketing organization in Texas.
The conversation on the beach that day, and throughout the trip, was centered around how thankful we were to have, first, found this industry and second, to have found it in a day and age where technology has allowed us to be more successful than any other generation prior. Chris Guiliani and I brought our children on the Portugal adventure. This was our daughter's first trip out of the country and they were amazed.
The use of the telephone, first invented in 1876, to move the insurance industry forward by enormous leaps and bounds starting in the 1990s, coupled with digital marketing for lead generation in the 2000s means that we are at the right place, with the right set of products, at the right time.
Sprint Venture Group, EHealth, GoMedigap, MedicareFAQ, Senior Healthcare Direct (aka “MedicareBob”), BoomerBenefits, MedicareMedigapDirect, and countless other phone-based agencies who generate their own leads using online platforms all prove that this is the market to be in.
Each and every one of these agencies started as a single producer who had the vision to grow what works, to scale. Many of them have taken on partners to grow even faster. Having made friendships with these agency owners, I have been truly inspired by their success and even more motivated in the knowledge that if it can be done, I, too, can accomplish anything I want to in this industry – using a telephone.
Christopher L. Westfall, Sr.
2019-05-23 12:09:50 Click here to read on
Are you regularly struggling with objections when it comes time to get personal information for an application when selling by phone?
I saw a question posted in an online forum where an agent was continuing to have objections when asking for the client's Social Security Number on the application.
The problem is ALWAYS trust and credibility.
If you at the application and then you discover there is a trust issue, it is a systemic problem with your overall presentation.
The trust and credibility should be firmly established very early, and often, in the presentation. It can never be skipped.
In fact, they will hear NOTHING of the particulars of the product or solution you are proposing if they do not, first, have the framework of trust and why they should be listening to YOU in the first place. They are bombarded, everywhere, with public service announcements saying that seniors should never give out their personal information over the phone. And they shouldn't.
What makes YOU different and worthy of receiving this information? THAT is the question going on in their head, the whole time you are talking.
We cover this extensively on this members-only page:
See the video:
Bad credit does not, necessarily, preclude you from selling insurance.
Watch the video!
Here, in this real call I received from an FMO recruiting operation, you can hear some good questions you should be asking before you are contractually obligated to an FMO.
See the video, then the tips underneath:
Questions to ask:
- Full commission. This means nothing short of the same the carrier offers, directly.
- Release upon request. The top FMO in the country DOES NOT offer releases, ever. Find out.
- Actual sales experience in the market.
(An insurance license is easy to get. How much success have they had actually selling, personally?)
- Availability during YOUR sales hours.. Do you speak with clients after hours? Weekends? When is YOUR upline available?
Bankers hours, only? When will they get back to you on actionable intelligence to help close the sale?
- How many “President's Club” and Carrier Awards trips has your immediate upline been on? What does that mean or not mean?
- Relationship with carrier reps who know what products are coming, where, and when.
Would you like to discuss where your contracts are? Write to: [email protected] anytime.
A very painful lesson, trying to get work done while they're waiting for us at the next party!
Having the right tools, when you need them to work NOW, makes a big difference in overall productivity.
Your business deserves to not have to wait for pages to refresh, videos to render, and crashes when multi-tasking!
David Duford, of DavidDuford.com, did an interview with Chris Westfall about the Medicare Supplement business. This interview was conducted in December 2017, but released on Youtube January 30, 2018.
Mentioned in the video: TrainedTelemarketers.com
Medicare Advantage organizations (MAOs) continue to do a poor job of maintaining accurate provider directories—and it’s landing some in hot water with the federal government.
In its second round of online provider directory reviews, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services found that 52% of the provider directory locations listed had at least one inaccuracy.
Those errors included providers who weren’t at the location listed, providers who didn’t accept the plan at that location, providers who weren’t accepting new patients despite the directory saying that they were, and incorrect or disconnected phone numbers.
When CMS conducted its first review of MAOs’ provider directories, it found that 45% of locations listed were inaccurate. While the report does say that the first and second reviews aren’t directly comparable “due to minor updates to the review methodology,” at the very least, the latest review’s results indicate the problem isn’t getting any better.
CMS also noted that its findings were not skewed by a few organizations but instead were widespread in the sample reviewed, which was about one-third of all MAOs. “Very few organizations performed well in our review,” the agency said.
At a minimum, provider directory errors can make members frustrated with an MAO, the report noted. But they can also cast doubt on the adequacy and validity of the MAO’s network as a whole, and even more seriously, prevent members from accessing services that are critical to their health and well-being.
Based on the results of its reviews, CMS has sent 23 notices of noncompliance, 19 warning letters and 12 warning letters “with a request for a business plan” to Medicare Advantage insurers.
However, the agency emphasized that MAOs themselves “are in the best position to ensure the accuracy of their plan provider directories.” It also said it was encouraged by pilot programs aimed at developing a centralized repository for provider data that would be accessible to multiple stakeholders.
In the near term, CMS added, MAOs should perform their own audits of their directory data and develop better internal processes for members to report errors.
See the original article here:
The question we often get, “Should I pay annually for my Medicare Supplement?”
Often times, seniors think they'll get a discount for paying annually. Well, with Medicare Supplements, they do not. Life insurance? Maybe, depends on the carrier, but NOT with Medicare Supplements.
There is a HUGE downfall to paying annually, in fact, with a Medicare Supplement, and this is something your clients MUST KNOW.
See the video.. the dangers of paying annually (or quarterly) for a Medicare Supplement:
October 19, 2017
A recent warning by the security experts at Wordfence indicate a higher-than-normal amount of scanning of WordPress sites by hackers looking for SSL security key information. If stored incorrectly, private key information on your server could easily expose your site to exploitation and that can be the loss of business.
Ironically, just two days ago, Chris Westfall made a post on how to not only secure your website for upcoming Google loss-of-search prevention but a way to do it free and easier than installing your own SSL security certificate (which is a huge pain). To see that secure post, click here: https://medicareagenttraining.com/tip-website-must/
The new Medicare cards are here. What do you do when you're writing a Turning 65 (T65) person and they do not have their new, cryptic, Medicare card number yet?
That is covered here: https://medicareagenttraining.com/march-2018-medicare-update/
CMS Reveals New Medicare Card Design
- CMS Reveals New Medicare Card Design
- [email protected]
CMS Reveals New Medicare Card Design
Removing Social Security numbers strengthens fraud protections for about 58 million Americans
Today, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) gave the public its first look at the newly designed Medicare card. The new Medicare card contains a unique, randomly-assigned number that replaces the current Social Security-based number.
CMS will begin mailing the new cards to people with Medicare benefits in April 2018 to meet the statutory deadline for replacing all existing Medicare cards by April 2019. In addition to today’s announcement, people with Medicare will also be able to see the design of the new Medicare card in the 2018 Medicare & You Handbook. The handbooks are being mailed and will arrive throughout September.
“The goal of the initiative to remove Social Security numbers from Medicare cards is to help prevent fraud, combat identify theft, and safeguard taxpayer dollars,” said CMS Administrator Seema Verma. “We’re very excited to share the new design.”
CMS has assigned all people with Medicare benefits a new, unique Medicare number, which contains a combination of numbers and uppercase letters. People with Medicare will receive a new Medicare card in the mail, and will be instructed to safely and securely destroy their current Medicare card and keep their new Medicare number confidential. Issuance of the new number will not change benefits that people with Medicare receive.
Healthcare providers and people with Medicare will be able to use secure look-up tools that will allow quick access to the new Medicare numbers when needed. There will also be a 21-month transition period where doctors, healthcare providers, and suppliers will be able to use either their current SSN-based Medicare Number or their new, unique Medicare number, to ease the transition.
This initiative takes important steps towards protecting the identities of people with Medicare. CMS is also working with healthcare providers to answer their questions and ensure that they have the information they need to make a successful transition to the new Medicare number. For more information, please visit: www.cms.gov/newcard
Are you having a difficult time getting your prospects to answer your call when you are calling them back?
This is very often due to the fact that you are calling from an area code outside of their service area. One study showed that you can increase answer rates by 40% by using local Caller ID. Is this compliant with the Trust in Caller ID Act of 2009? Yes, when you in fact own the rights to the number you are calling from.
There is an active discussion going on in the Member Forums here at MedicareAgentTraining.com where agents are sharing their solutions to this issue.
Medigap enrollment increases as out-of-pocket expenses rise for seniors due to holes in Medicare coverage.Source: https://healthpayerintelligence.com/news/ahip-sees-28-increase-in-medigap-enrollment-among-seniors <
Many of us are guilty of constantly seeking the next “shiny object”, thinking that it will be, finally, the solution to easy profits with MUCH less effort.
While there is a lot to be learned from attending seminars, buying courses, and studying non-stop, there is a point where a successful person stops searching for the next-great-thing,and actually goes to work.
When you find yourself circling about to the things you've already seen before, and YOU have not implemented anything, it's time to look in the mirror and make a decision. Which way are you going to go?
Having worked with thousands of agents now, the pattern is perfectly clear.
Agents choose to fail or they choose to succeed. The key is, it's a choice.
That's what I covered in this SeniorAgentPodcast episode.. you can listen here:
How much money should you have saved before you go all in? That's the subject of this Q&A. The good thing is that it does not take much money. The bad thing is, also, that it does not take that much money to get started. A smart business person will start the enterprise having a backup nest egg of savings to carry them through the initial start-up phase. <
This agent wrote in that he was getting frustrated with the lack of available data in his community for his telemarketing campaign. The problem was that he was insisting on keeping everything LOCAL. He removed the upper-age limit on his data, just to have someone to talk to, so he was getting 90 year old folks interested in a new Medicare Supplement.
“I would like to continue to work face to face sells and he shared with me that's what he did with his first telemarketer. Expanding out will not work under that premise. Staying within driving time keeps me from getting much farther away.
But what do I do now? Can I go in and reload a larger territory in the middle of a calling campaign? Will she be calling some of the same people again? I'll give anything a try. I'm already invested. “
When should you start hiring help? Should you first hire another telemarketer, a general assistant, or a licensed agent to help you?
These are the questions asked in this first edition of the video Q&A.
Yes, it all still works.
See the short video:<
Excerpt from https://www.salesgravy.com/sales-articles/automotive/five-lessons-i-learned-at-starbucks.html
“Lesson #1 – Make sure you ask for the business. I have just watched a beggar collect at least $5 worth of donations in the last half hour with a sign that says – “I am saving up for a hooker, weed, wine and a steak dinner.” Not one of the people bothered to read his sign and know what they were even donating for. Not the family man with his wife and children, not the group of older people probably in their 80s, not the business man in the suit, nobody. The beggar obviously learned the power of asking, no matter what.
Lesson #2 – It’s not the money. People pile into Starbucks one after another spending three and four bucks on of a cup coffee. Obviously you can get a cup of coffee at a diner down the street for a lot less money. But yet, people willingly spend a $100 per month or more at Starbucks. Why?
People are buying the experience and the perception of the brand. I am sitting here writing this article in a busy Starbucks and people watching when I could be in the quiet and seclusion of my nice hotel room. The person in the seat next to me is listening to music on an iPod when they could obviously do it for free in the Square with a less expensive cup of coffee. The gentleman in the big living room type chair is reading a novel. People want the experience. Understand your customer and the value they want and the money will become less important. The big three U.S. auto manufacturers give huge rebates, and imports are still kicking their butts. It’s not about the money.”
I'm always surprised with agents who are failing at business discover that it was because they were not asking for the business. They would present options and then just leave it, never politely suggesting that the client move forward with an application.
And, if you feel the product costs too much, it's too hard for them to sign up online with you, or it's crazy for you to ask for their personal information over the phone – so will they. YOUR objection will become their objection. It's true! You have to be convinced, first, that the sale is in their best interest. When you are convinced, get out of your own way – ask for the sale and deserve it and you'll have it.
The reason I picked this niche of insurance was two-fold. One, I could work with a great generation of people and help calm their fears about their next transition in healthcare and, two, I could create a residual income for my family.
Both have come true, and it's the most amazing thing that 10 years ago I would have never believed possible. In this video, I talk about a police officer in Mount Pleasant, SC I met today (Doug), and our conversation about what starting officers now make.
Guess what? It's about the same that we made starting 10 years ago. That is absolutely crazy. I do not know how anyone can raise a family on a salarty like that, and it's totally wrong.
I told Doug that if he ever has had enough of the politics, chaos, and public resentment now happening against law enforcement, he can look me up. I'm easy to find online!
It is my sincere wish that all of the good guys, and ladies, that I used to work with could now be enjoying this lifestyle with me. It'd be even more fun! – Christopher Westfall
A question was recently asked, “Should I get an office or work from home as I'm starting to grow and it's obvious I need admin help already?”
I was still a one-man show when I rented my first EXPENSIVE office in a Regus complex in Lake Mary, FL. It was an investment in appearance for the clients, which never once came because I sold over the phone, and an investment in accountability of having somewhere to SHOW UP every day. This was the key for me.
When I started working with someone else, knowing that they were going to show up, so I had to show up, created a very productive environment for both of us. I would swear to you that business really began taking off as a result of that simple move. It was great to be around other productive people that were showing up every day to work.
I know you don't have this problem and laziness/accountability are not factors in what you're asking, but if you're ever going to grow to 5 or 10 employees or 100 if you so desire, it is going to happen sometime, anyway, and I would argue that it is best to build it before you need it. Create the envelope bigger than you need and then you will find a way to fill it.
Now looking to move offices for the third time due to growth, I know that if I had not stepped out in faith to get outside of my home office, I would never have been where I am today. Why? Because it was comfortable; it was TOO comfortable to work from home. Yes, it's cool to be running my own company, but I knew early on that I could not grow enough on my own.
Having a remote admin assistant did not work for me. When I had someone working next to me, who heard everything, then started repeating the answers I gave to the people they were then talking to, it created a synergy that has now replicated over and over again.
In my office now, someone will say something that's a great answer and then the others will start repeating it and a best practice is born. That cannot happen with remote folks. – my two cents. –cw
Approximately 30% of Americans turning 65 are opting for a Medicare “Advantage” plan. In my experience, this most often happens for the following two reasons:
- They have been relatively healthy up to 65 years old
- They believe this great health will continue into their senior years
- Medicare Advantage plans at $0 per month can be quite attractive
- They miss, or minimize the often $6,700 Maximum Out-of-Pocket PER YEAR
Sadly, there are many situations that we have seen where a Turning 65-senior has chosen one of these “free” Medicare Advantage plans only to have to experience the limitations and large hospital admission co-payments by having a serious illness that takes them into full usage of their chosen plan.
When they were first turning 65, they thought their great health would continue far into their senior years, only to discover that this is the time frame where most all medical claims are experienced in life. Sadly, when they signed up for a Medicare Advantage plan, particularly an HMO plan, they find that the restrictions now imposed on them, the trade off for little or no monthly premium, now can significantly and adversely not only affect their availability of specialty care (replaced with tight networks) but also expose them to more money spent for medical care than their non-“Advantage” plan senior counterparts.
On the contrary, the biggest proponents of Medigap (Medicare Supplement) plans are those who have had to use them with a serious illness. For example, those with a special kind of cancer who can now choose the best cancer treatment centers in America without consequence because their Medicare Supplement plan allows them to go anywhere. Those who would have otherwise been exposed to a $6,700 out-of-pocket cost with their Medicare Advantage plan for a series of hospital admissions who though, because on a SUPPLEMENT plan instead, pay $0 for their admissions and, more importantly, get to CHOOSE their hospital instead of only being able to go to the one that was the lowest bidder that joined the “Advantage” plan's restrictive network.
In an illuminating article by the non-profit Kaiser Family Foundation, the choice of a Medicare Advantage plan when a senior is turning 65 can prove disastrous for future healthcare choices for the rest of a senior's life. See the article here:
It is very important that now-Medicare-eligible seniors have the full information on the good, the bad, and the possible devastating effects of picking their Medicare plan.
Chris Westfall is an independent Medicare agent and has been a licensed insurance agent for over 20 years.
Do you sell Medicare Advantage plans or Part D plans?
If so, in addition to the AHIP test, there is now another, separate test administered only through CMS and it is required.
This test is on Waste, Fraud, and Abuse, as there always had been in the AHIP test already, but now it's required separately.
Courtesy of United Healthcare, this is a link to the instructions as to how to find and take this simple test:
Instead of a case that would pay $269.69, this video shows how the commission, first year, is $1,067.70 because CJ asked told of the availability of the cancer plan. He asked about heart attack/stroke coverage, and he asked about life coverage.
This sweet lady was used to paying $700 per month for her employer plan that had restrictions, networks, and co-pays. Now, she has a MUCH better plan (Plan G), lump sum coverage for Cancer, Heart Attack or Stroke, AND permanent Life Insurance coverage locked in now at the age of 64.
The is in a much better position, fully covered, and happy with her new security and price.
See the video:
Perfect example of a great cross sell.
CIGNA's electronic application makes this point and click easy without having to re-enter the client's information again in multiple applications.
Decades ago, companies like McDonald's learned that if you merely asked, “Would you like fries with that?” that a significant amount of people WOULD. Their profit is all in the extras..just like the movie theaters. They make nothing on the ticket sales. It is all on concessions.
This is good coverage, provides peace of mind, and because of a process like this, helps the agent to make additional income by taking care of clients in a meaningful way.
Learn how to sell cancer policies, etc. at:
Many friends and relatives have been contacting me recently to ask more about the business I’m in. Why? For a variety of reasons including, but not limited to, their changing life circumstances where they may be seeing change ahead or no progress where they currently are.
More, though, are seeing the lifestyle that this business can afford those who have put the time in to build a residual income business by helping people, and they want more of that in their lives. This is, perhaps, the best reason because I firmly believe that if you want something bad enough to trudge through the unpleasant parts of getting there, you will absolutely have it.
In the last 30 days, my wife and I have traveled to Rome, Italy (with Mutual of Omaha’s Sales Leaders trip) and to Iceland with Aetna. We will soon be taking another trip to Vancouver, BC with yet another insurance organization and then I’ll be going on to a “mastermind” event in Alaska just before the busy season begins yet again.
The first week of May, Chris and the other top 150 or so Aetna agents, and their guests, were in Iceland for the production award from 2015. Many on this trip, including Chris and his wife, Nicole, had just returned back to the states from Rome with the Mutual of Omaha trip just less than two weeks prior. It was a quick turnaround for another out-of-the-country adventure.
The weather was cold, mostly due just to the incredible wind in Iceland, but the camaraderie forged between new friends made the trip a priceless gift. Sharing ideas and various business practices with the folks there just proved, once again, that it all works.
Just like the Rome trip, Chris met with many agents and discovered that what they were doing was working just as well. Whether it is direct mail, a phone room setting appointments, or agents dialing for their own leads on a predictive dialer, it is all working. Some were there because they do seminars. Some just get lead lists of T65 folks and go “door knocking”. Still others hire in-house telemarketers to find interested folks. It all works. That was the biggest point.
While on this trip, Chris was greeted about around 10 agents throughout the week that came up to introduce themselves. They were members of MedicareAgentTraining.com and had found the site valuable in their business. This was very humbling and had continued from the week prior, at the National Medicare Supplement Conference in Kansas City, where this happened approximately 50 times. It was great for Chris to be able to meet members and others from the Medicare community who he might have only seen online as their black and white username!
One of those that came up to Chris in Iceland was 20 year old Bridge.
Bridge sets his own appointments, using the predictive dialer. As one of the winners of the Aetna trip, he is obviously doing very well in the business. He sat down with Chris and talked about this, and how he just got his 19 year old cousin to get into the business with him recently. His cousin, who just turned 20 now, sold six policies this week on his own, the week that Bridge was in Iceland with Chris and the Aetna crew.
See Bridge tell the story:
This is a quick video Chris did about Iceland that relates to the Medicare field:
Photos Chris and Nicole took on the 2016 AETNA trip to Iceland:
What is it that you are communicating?
If you are communicating to the senior market that you have Medicare products, guess what?
Every other agent in America also can sell Medicare products.
What is it that you are bringing before you are asking for them to buy?
Are you providing valuable information that they can use or do they feel that the entire conversation is geared toward driving them to a sale?
It has been often quoted that people want to buy, they DO NOT want to be sold. They make their decision emotionally, based on what has been provided, and then justify that decision, later, logically. By merely providing yet another channel where someone can buy, without first providing value, you are just like every other salesperson out there and nothing separates you from what anyone else can do.
A recent survey conducted by Hubspot shows that people want to be provided service FIRST, as the most important deciding factor before they make a buying decision. This should not be news, if you examine who you, yourself want to buy.
When my wife and I were in Rome recently, we watched in awe as these young boys were on the steps to a thousand+ year old monument, attempting to sell their wares. What they were selling where 11×17 inch replica water colored paintings of the various monuments around Rome. These same replica paintings were being sold on many street corners, but these boys were very creative, and it showed.
What they did differently was that one of the boys had a coloring pencil in his hand, and a variety of colored pencils at his feet. He sat on those steps and appeared to be just finishing the next painting, himself. He appeared to be putting a lot of attention into the detail of what he was working on, as the other paintings were surrounding him on full display. This gave the illusion that HIS paintings had all be hand-done and had been created meticulously with care.
To the passing tourists, what appeared to them was that they had an opportunity to purchase custom artwork of Rome, drawn right here on the steps of one of the monuments. How unique and valuable!!
While these two kids were selling the exact same thing as everyone else, they created the perception of unique value that their particular paintings brought that other similar paintings in the area did not have. With the other unmanned displays, folks were just buying copies. With this one, they bought value.
In a similar fashion, many top producers in the industry have shared with me the various ways in which they paint the picture of unique value in the mind of their potential consumer. Whether it is researching drug plans for their clients, or promising an amazing amount of follow up, they attempt, at every turn, to separate themselves from the agents who merely provide only an application and a policy delivery.
Agents who make no attempt to separate themselves and their business from the competition will be bland, boring, and will reap the rewards that befall nothing interesting.
Had this question today by support ticket:
When I dealt with ACA Obamacare, I had a bunch of pin ups next to my desk that had common carrier phone numbers, sales dialers account info, Plan outlines, etc. Just a bunch of random semi helpful stuff that I was able to reference time to time.
My question is, what do you have pinned up next to your desk that you reference from time to time. I noticed you have a time zone map, I see how that would be really useful for calling in other states and setting appointments. But what other stuff do you have pinned up next to your desk, I wasn't able to tell from the video?
I know you're a pretty busy guy, and out of all the questions I could have asked you, I ask what you have pinned up against your wall. I guess your videos have been thorough enough to answer all my other questions!
Here's my video reply:
It is with great pleasure that I highly endorse a new book by David Duford called “The Official Guide to Selling Final Expense Insurance.” Dave's book is selling on Amazon now and a portion of the proceeds is helping another agent friend, Mark Rosenthal, with his very expensive disease treatment. Buying this book is a “no brainer” and a true win/win.
David Duford has proven himself to be a powerful influence in the final expense industry in the past few years. Not only is he a successful agent in his own right, he has a teacher's heart and enjoys helping new agents to find success in the Final Expense niche. This book is very well done and will be a resource for FE agents long into the future.
I highly recommend agents in, or considering, the final expense life insurance niche to pick up this valuable guide.
You can do so here.
A new agent came by our office and was asking whether or not she should pursue the final expense market or the Medicare Supplement market.
My son was nice enough to catch part of the conversation on his cell phone.. here's the end of the final expense part, which was that those folks are at the lowest end of the socio-economic scale, often never having thought of having life insurance before, and often having had horrible money management their entire lives and NOW they want YOU (the agent) to solve this with a brand new policy they promise to pay for, every month, for the rest of their lives; or
replacing or helping someone with a Medicare Supplement policy that they either already had or were already going to buy and would never, ever, be without AND have the means to make those premium payments, forever.
See the conversation:
Fortune Favors the BoldThis old saying is so true about those adventurous small business owners, like us, who start every day boldly helping others and building our individual fortunes in the process. <
What does your personal credit history have to do with starting, or not starting in the insurance industry?
See the video:
Supporting our families by helping seniors with their Medicare plans!
This is a great business to be in!
In this video, Chris shows his Monday morning mail, where he was notified by Aetna that he won a Holiday Helper Bonus from the last quarter of 2015.
That bonus was $4,300! It was totally unexpected and just from doing the right thing by our clients.
This bonus, and the trips, are only from personal production. None of Chris' sub-agent production counts toward the trips or the bonuses.. just his own business.
What a great career, where we are rewarded handsomely by helping people.
The A/B Split Test, and Life
I don't know why it is, but I always seem to have my breakthrough thoughts – in the shower. Why is that? I've given up trying to figure that one out.
For years I've studied personal development and internet marketing. I am confident that doing both has resulted in my business success, which is a whole world away from 10 years ago when I was a sheriff's sergeant working 12 hour shifts and always having to live paycheck to paycheck.
What had to change was, me.
What I learned, by first identifying mentors and then changing HOW I processed the information that I saw in front of me, I could start to change the results in the time I spent working on my business.
It was not enough to merely focus on the cold calling, the follow up, the company's E-App, and Steps 1, 2, 3; I had to change how I saw my business in an effort to serve others and – very, very importantly, how I dealt with the challenges and frustrations that come with ANY business venture.
Last week, my agent training membership site hit 2,000 members at the site's 3 year anniversary.
In that time I have received countless success stories from agents saying that the site's information has changed their lives, provided freedom from a J.O.B. (just over broke) and put them on a path to financial freedom.
But, sadly, too, I have experienced the communication from agents who've said that they are giving up, did not achieve immediate successes and, without enough positive results to their satisfaction at that point, they're throwing in the towel. They went back to hourly jobs, working for someone else, because they could not make it work..not successful enough for their markers with the time they'd chosen to invest up to that point.
I know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that it is not for a lack of information, companies available, training, or product education. It is because of an internal inability to process the negative experiences that are inevitable in business.
When the rejection comes, and it will, how do you process that?
When you successfully help a new client and they express how thankful they are that they met you, how do you internalize that event?
Hear me LOUDLY here.. Whichever one of those you CHOOSE to focus on will drive that future outcome and you will experience more of what you have chosen.
If you have two plants next to each other and water one, without watering the other – one will grow and one will slowly die. DUH, right?
The same, exact scenario unfolds in our business when we CHOOSE to focus on what just happened with the 80/20 rejection that is inevitable in any business.
A focus on the negative result WITHOUT a celebration and internal reward on the GOOD result causes more of the negative outcome. You will, always, experience more rejection than success in any business. Are your expectations balanced to adjust for that? You must compensate for this inequity by making a HUGE focus on the gains and putting those front and center in your mind when you decide each morning -“What am I thankful for??”
This behavior is a choice. It is not natural. It is focusing on the seed, which grows, rather than the storm that it finds itself in. It takes a conscious decision, each and every day as to how you are going to start it.
Call centers that I have consulted for often have a big, huge bell in the middle of the room where all of the callers are working. When a worker there makes a sale and writes an application, they get up, walk over, and RING THAT BELL.
Why do they to this? Because it is proven that rewarding the great result, while choosing to accept the NATURAL negatives that happen along the way is the best path to long term success. Keeping one's head down, following a proven system, and working UNTIL the success is evident to everyone around you IS the secret.
When they are rejected, or when a client decides to take his or her business to someone else, do they go around the room and spread the rejection? NO. Why?
So, back to this morning – in the shower I suddenly realized that the personal development skills I have made into habits line up perfectly with the online marketing I've been doing, with the A/B Split Test.
Given the feedback of the day/week/year, which direction are you going to go?
Please watch this short video. I hope you are encouraged and I hope you make the choice to guard your thoughts and guard your emotions.
You are in solid control of where you choose to go in your own head.
This is no trivial thing. The best system in the world will not work if your QUIT/DON'T QUIT threshold is set too high and focused only on the losses along the way.
My wish for you is continued success and continual breakthroughs. For you, it should not be a wish, though, it should be a plan that you work until it happens.
The system works, absolutely.
The question is, will you stay around long enough for it to materialize in your life.
I think about you (members) daily and want you to succeed.
When Chris Westfall mails policies to clients (which is required in certain states like LA, WV), he does so in a “priority express” envelope that gets special treatment/perception by the client, but costs no more than first-class postage. These envelopes do not require Priority or Express postage – mere first class stamps!
See the video explanation:
You can get these priority/urgent envelopes here:
Both Chris Westfall and his 21 year old son, CJ, will be speaking at the 2016 Medicare Supplement Conference in Kansas City Missouri in April.
CJ, who has had his license for less than one year, will be talking from the stage on what he learned that helped him to write over 300 polices to seniors during his first year.
Topics CJ will Discuss:
What kind of obstacles did he have to overcome?
How did he learn to communicate effectively to seniors 50+ years older than he is?
Chris (Sr.) will be giving an 18 minute talk on the importance of developing social media avenues to generate incoming leads.
Chris' agency only takes incoming calls now, all from free social media platforms that he has studied intensively and he will share some of those discoveries with the conference attendees.
The first day of the conference, Monday April 25, is free.
The rest of the conference (Tuesday and Wednesday) are not free but are packed with information that agents can use.
Chris will be attending the whole conference and will be reporting back to the members of Medicare Agent Training.com.
For information on the 2016 Medicare Supplement Summit in Kansas City, click here.
This infographic from InsideSales.com tracked the best practices when responding to leads.
They are primarily talking about internet leads and the impact of an immediate response, then follow-up with that lead through the sixth attempt.
Look at how few salespeople will actually try past three calls with a new lead!
It also covers the best time of the week and the best time of the day for success in reaching leads effectively.
Over the years, Chris has learned the difference between just being busy for busy sake vs. doing things that will achieve the best, possible results for our time investment in this business.
Many agents still believe that writing applications all day is their only mission, and they'll write an application on anyone that says, “Yes.” Those anxious folks that are very eager to get going with you should be the ones you spend the most amount of time trying to find out why they are disqualified from the beginning.
The art of asking the right questions, in this case – all of the health questions, before moving into an application setting AT ALL, is critical if you want to have enough time to spend with those that are qualified.
This is a public video that Chris Westfall put out about the latest with the AT&T use of AON for retiree Medicare benefits.
For members, see the full coverage of the opportunity to help AT&T retirees, including necessary documents and reimbursement procedures by going to this link.
We’ve all been there – you call your prospect back at the appointed time for your presentation and they tell you any of the following:
This isn’t a good time, OR
They only have a few minutes, OR
They ask you in an exasperated tone, “How long will this take?” OR
They tell you they have a meeting in 10 minutes, can you give them the information anyway?
Or any other put off that will cut short the 30 minute comprehensive presentation you had planned.
Most sales reps respond to these objection-like receptions by asking if they would prefer to set another time. That response might be appropriate with the first put off – the “This isn’t a good time,” – but with any of the others, I have a better technique for you.
Let’s start at the beginning. First, when you get this kind of response from a prospect you qualified a week or so ago, don’t be surprised! Face it: it’s a law in all sales – Leads Never Get Better! If you sent out the hottest lead ever, a “10” on a scale of 1 – 10, then when you call them back, have you ever noticed that now they’re about a “7”?
And of course since most sales reps don’t qualify thoroughly enough, most of the leads they stuff into their pipeline are made up of sixes and sevens. And you can imagine how they are when reps reach them. So expect that your leads are going to drop in interest and receptiveness when you call them back, and then be prepared with a best practice approach to handling them. Here’s what to do:
Whenever a prospect responds to your call to do a presentation with one of the responses above – the “How long will this take?” – kind of response, don’t offer to call them back later, rather, get them to reveal their true level of interest to you and get them to tell you exactly how to pitch them to get the deal. Here are a number of statements you can use to do just that:
“Sure, I can take as long or little as you need. Let’s do this: why don’t you tell me the top three things you were hoping to learn about this, and I’ll drill right down and cover those areas for you. What’s number one for you?”
“Absolutely, we can do this pretty quickly. Tell me, what would you like to know most about how this might work in your environment?”
“I understand, sounds like I caught you at a bad time. Let’s do this: If you needed to see or learn just one thing about this to determine if it might actually work for you, what would that be?”
“No problem. Our presentation is pretty in depth, but I can do this. Go ahead and tell me two things that are absolute deal breakers for you, and I’ll see if we pass the test. And then if we do, we’ll schedule some more time later to go into detail on how the rest works, fair enough?”
“In ten minutes, I can show you some things that will help you determine whether or not you’d like to spend more time with me later. In the meantime, let me ask you – what would you need to see the most to say yes to this?”
“I understand, we’re all busy. Let me just ask you: has anything changed from when we last spoke?” (Now REALLY listen…)
“Tell you what: let’s reschedule something for later when you have more time, but in the ten minutes we do have, let me ask you some questions to determine whether this would still be a good fit for you…” (Now thoroughly re-qualify your prospect)
As you can see, the responses above are all aimed at getting your prospect to reveal to you both their level of interest and what it is going to take to sell them – or whether or not they are still a good prospect for you. Have some fun with these; customize them to fit your personality or the personality of the person you’re speaking with. Find your favorites and then, as always, practice, drill and rehearse until they become your automatic response when your prospect tells you they don’t have time for your presentation.
Many agents that are speaking with seniors about their Medicare options often encounter seniors who say they are on “TRICARE For Life”.
Having answered this question for hundreds of agents who haven't searched it on their own, I want to openly let you know that they are NOT candidates for Medicare Supplement plans.
TRICARE For Life is a comprehensive, Medicare wrap around product like a Medicare Supplement plan. No further coverage for them is needed.
Please see the video.
Now this is different from someone getting VA benefits. Those folks most often do purchase a Medicare Supplement because they wish to use private facilities and most often cannot when their only option is the VA hospital or clinic near them.
Driving to the office for this podcast episode.. covering something that happened yesterday and brought a lifetime value of $3,600 by investing $1 in follow up.
Chris Westfall on getting started with Medicare Supplements
Over 200,000 seniors are turning 65 each month in the United States. This is a HUGE opportunity for those agents who know how to get in front of this “silver tsunami”!
In this podcast, Chris Westfall talks about marketing to seniors using various methods and what he has learned since getting his insurance license in 1995 up to today.
From SeniorAgentPodcast.com.. click the play button below.
What must you do to be successful in this, or any other business?
Have you ever been ready to submit a Medicare Supplement application via the iGO Electronic Application and received an ERROR message that will not let you proceed? This tip from Chris Westfall just might be the trick you needed to get on with that application.
See the video..
The recent report by the Medicare trustees is currently being evaluated by HHS Secretary Sylvia Burwell, who is expected to make a final decision October 2015 to impact Medicare beneficiaries in 2016.
The trustees recommend increasing Part B premiums charged to seniors monthly some 52% starting in January 2016. This would mean going from $104.90 to $159.30.
The report states that this would impact 30% of all Medicare beneficiaries and would be again tied to their income, targeting those with incomes over $85,000.
The other, more impactful recommendation is a change to the Part B deductible to $223 instead of the current $147. This would impact ALL Medicare beneficiaries and is sure to cause outrage by the senior lobbyists on K street. There will be much pushback to such an increase.
CSG Actuarial is analyzing the impact on carriers and on seniors with Plan F and Plan G. The initial analysis is that the Plan F rates will, after accommodating for the higher built-in cost in the premiums of Plan F which will absorb the new Part B deductible, need to increase 4% due to more claims. Plan G, however, would see less claims and actually justify a rate reduction. How carriers would choose to implement the change is still up in the air.
We will continue to monitor this recommendation's impact on seniors and whether or not it will be adopted.
Today it was officially announced that CIGNA and Anthem have struck a deal to become, for now, the largest health insurer in America. The terms of the final deal finally having weathered the storm of a two-month long negotiation, the deal is said to be worth $48 Billion to CIGNA for its acquisition into Anthem.
The independent market is still waiting to hear how this will impact the Medicare Supplement and Medicare Advantage distribution channels. The deal might take two years to get through regulator's approval.
As always, we'll have the specific news when it's available as to how this will impact the individual agent. – Stay tuned!
See the announcement:
Here's a quick video message from Chris Westfall on considerations as to whether or not to hire an assistant..
See the video:
Can you use direct mail to sell Medicare Supplements by Phone?
If you know what you're doing.. absolutely. Information will be in the Webinars page under the member's area.
CIGNA has agreed to purchase Sterling Life from Wellcare
See the video:
April 24, 2015
CIGNA has entered into an agreement, pending regulatory approval, to purchase Sterling Life Insurance Company from its current owner, Wellcare. Wellcare purchased the fledgling Sterling Life just three years ago, and tried to turn around its sinking sales of Medicare Supplements, without success. Now, CIGNA hopes to sell their ancillary products to the Sterling clients.
CIGNA's official e-mail to agents can be found here.
For details on how this might impact the competitive nature of Medicare Supplement selling, make sure to watch the Medicare training webinars inside MedicareAgentTraining.com
Chris Westfall was interviewed at the 2015 National Medicare Supplement Conference in Orlando. The interview was to be included in the bonus footage provided to attendees and others. In the video, Chris was asked about various aspects of selling Medicare supplements by phone.
This is behind-the-scenes “bootleg” video of the recording. The TV cameras caught the good footage and the audio, to be edited later!
A recent post Chris made on the insurance forums:
“I really can't recall reading anyone who just started from day 1 selling 3-5 med sups a week yr round? It just seems med sups are part time selling for 3-5 yrs till it builds up and you're making $100k plus a yr”
When I started selling Medicare Supplements by phone, I was using direct mail from Mainstreet Powermail and relied heavily on their experience with historical response rates to guide where I would do the mailings. As I could mail anywhere in any state, I asked their rep for guidance as to the absolute best state response rates in the country and then in that best state. Believe it or not, I was getting 4 to 6% response rates in Michigan at the time.
I was writing 3 to 5 deals a week and only working Med Supps two days a week in the early days. I then continued to mail, fill the pipeline, and moved eventually to doing it five days a week, away from a mix of doing local final expense sales in person. Making that transition was a balancing act, because the final expense sales paid more, up front, but I knew from the residual income aspect that it was a better, long term play to get into the Medicare Supplements.
When the direct mail returns started to go down and we had two postage rate increases close to each other, I turned to telemarketing. I paid a local guy to do my calling and he would gauge interest and then build me up to the potential client on the phone, setting an appointment for me to go over their options based on how much they would save by switching to a new carrier on the same plan. This, too, worked very consistently.
Fast forward six years later and the phone rings all week from referrals now.
I write three to eight deals every week from referrals, spouses of clients, or posts I've put on the internet that are discovered by those shopping.
It is nice not having to do outbound marketing. This is something that I was told, early on, would happen but was hard to believe when it felt like it was so hard to get any traction in the business.
“It just seems med sups are part time selling for 3-5 yrs till it builds up and you're making $100k plus a yr”
You can do it part-time and get there slower, for sure. I know many agents who started selling Medicare Supplements at night after their full-time jobs. I started part-time doing it just two days per week but set those entire days aside to concentrate on this aspect of my business before going full-time.
If I had it to do over again, I would have done it the exact same way. I probably worked 30 hours in those two days, early on. I know for a fact that it greatly depends on how hungry you are. I see, day in and day out, agents who rely on their spouse's income to support their family and they treat their business as a part-time hobby. That won't cut it. Those in that scenario do not have the fortitude to weather the rejection and stay long enough to enjoy the income.
On the other hand, I see agents who commit to cutting their safety net and it is sink or swim. They swim. Their commitment level is do or die and that makes all of the difference in their mindset to working the hours necessary and doing whatever it takes to make enough presentations.
Whichever direction you choose to go in, I strongly suggest investing in help with the prospecting, then the prospecting and pre-screening as soon as you can afford to do so. There is no greater time waster than spending YOUR valuable, limited and precious time with those that are uninterested. Even worse is spending 95% of your time with those that are uninterested and even if they were interested, unqualified to take action (due to health, qualification to buy a Med Supp, etc.).
I continue to find it extremely liberating to have someone on your schedule that understands what you do, knows the price of the best plan for them, knows that they will likely qualify based on the health questions OF that plan and knows exactly what their savings will be once they consummate that transaction with you.
This was my best lesson learned in this business:
Is it a good idea for a senior to fill out their own electronic application for Medicare Supplement coverage?
Should you, as an agent, send out direct mail with a carrier's website and a six-digit number code after it, and expect seniors to sign themselves up?
Absolutely not.. see the video:
I've been considering a stand-up desk and wireless headset for some time. My research led me to purchase a Sennheiser Office Runner wireless headset from Amazon where I found it for only $200 which included shipping and no tax (refurbished by the manufacturer). The service and support from Headset.com is amazing and this headset should win every prize there is in the category.
Here is a direct link to the search: MedicareAgentTraining.com/headset
This works with your computer (Google voice calling, Skype calling, Hangouts, etc.) via USB and also works with any office phone system or regular landline for calling out.
- The #1 wireless office headset available
- Up to 400 feet of wireless range means you can roam your office while still on the phone
- Noise cancelling microphone means your callers will hear you and not what's going on around you
- Industry-leading 3-year warranty and lifetime product support from Headsets.com
- Up to 12 hours of talk time on a single charge means you can talk all day long
And here is my review with a demonstration:
A report from PublicIntegrity.org details new, and not-so-new investigations into Medicare Advantage potential fraud and abuse around the country. In multiple states, and across providers, Congress is trying to get a handle on the overpayments that are happening with this managed care approach to replacing original Medicare.
A new podcast was uploaded to iTunes recently answering the question as to what the secret is in closing the sale – any sale.
This was based on much research into where the failures or shortcomings exist where agents are showing a consistent track record of NOT making sales happen, even though they know the technical knowledge and they know how to present the opportunity to save money to the senior client.
It's worth a listen. In the post that holds the podcast, there is a link to a very valuable book by Mike Brooks. Everyone that convinces, influences, or sells by phone should own that book!
See the post here: Secret to Closing the Sale
As of January 30, 2015, the MedicareAgentTraining.com site is providing the best quote engine in the Medicare Supplement business as a free benefit for its members. The quote engine includes all states in the country, and the value is over $100 per month to our member. However, it's included in the regular membership.
This quote engine provides not only the hottest carriers in the market, in real time, but also rate increase history, company earnings and loss ratio information, AM Best rating and more. This can be vital information to help you help your senior client to the facts that will help them save money by making you their client.
This is only one of the benefits available to members, making participation in MedicareAgentTraining.com a “no brainer”, as they say!
Watch this short video clip from the webinar announcement:
I've been often asked, “Should I work each day until I reach two or three sales in that day, then stop for the day?”
Here is the answer:
A few weeks ago, over 100 websites hosted on my server got infected because someone did not have their WordPress page updated.
This vulnerability cannot be allowed to continue, so with that warning, here is a VERY important message for ANYONE with a WordPress site. If you do not watch this, or implement these steps, it is only a matter of time before your web site is utilized by hackers to further their business. Your web hosting provider will eventually shut down your site, too, as they see the site being taken over by “Malware” (malicious software).
Please watch this important video:
( I recommend maximizing it to full screen at the highest resolution to see the detail.)
When can you or your telemarketers make calls?Several states have more restrictive calling time restrictions than those published by the Federal Trade Commission and the Federal Communications Commission. Federal rules dictate no calls before 8 AM or after 9 PM, and apply to all calls that do not have a more restrictive state requirement listed below. Please be aware of these restrictions and keep in mind that violations may amount to $16,000 per call. <
Personal observation in my neighborhood about positioning and the insurance professional.
If you are considering local marketing, please use the methods described in this post.
The results are much better and the positioning makes you out as the expert you are.
Leaving flyers, door to door, for insurance leads is not only a tough way to go, but doing this yourself means you have nothing better to do and leaves you in a very bad position in the mind of your prospect. There is a way to do it where you can introduce yourself, show what you have to offer (much better than a corporate brochure) and have others deliver these packets much more efficiently FOR YOU.
See the post: Getting Started Without Leads
It is ALWAYS better when you develop your own leads for insurance sales. Rather than relying on lead vendors, who very often rip off the unsuspecting agent, when you learn to create your own leads you can control the quality, the quantity of leads, and your costs along the way.
On November 15, 2014, Chris Westfall was interviewed on the “Money Matters” radio program on WSC 94.3FM in Charleston, SC.
The show's host, Rick Durkee, is a well known financial advisor in the greater Charleston area with a financial services firm dedicated to those that are retiring or already in retirement. Chris met Rick through a mutual friend at the radio station and Chris was invited to be a guest on the show, in recognition of the “Medicare season” going on.
Here is the interview, edited by Chris for brevity (commercials removed):
As seen on Shark Tank, sometimes you just have to say, “I'm Out!” when you are presented with someone that only excuses, no results, and wants you to rescue that situation.
What Lori has to say about it:
What Robert has to say about it:
And Cesar said it, too:
Do you take the machine gun approach to leaving a voicemail?
Or are you thoughtful in the message that you leave, encouraging with your tone of voice, diction, speed, and message for the person to call you back?
This is a drastic example of what not to do..
1) Who are you?
2) What are you calling about? (“What's in it for me?”)
3) Phone number given, twice, at writing speed.
How do you cancel an old Medicare Supplement policy when the new one has been issued?
That's the topic of this week's SeniorAgentPodcast with Chris Westfall.
Feel free to listen to the answer!
Questions answered include:
- When should you cancel a new Medicare Supplement policy?
- Do you call, or does the client call the old company?
- Is a form required to cancel an old policy?
- Can they get their old policy back?
- Is there any grace period?
Can I legally call someone and talk about Medicare Supplement plans?
This is a question that was asked by a new agent this week.
The agent said she had heard that you can lose your license, pay a fine, etc. for cold calling someone about Medicare plans.
What the agent is referring to is the marketing of Medicare Advantage Plans.
You can find the marketing rules from CMS about Medicare Advantage plans here.
However, in most all states, it is perfectly legal to telemarketing / cold call, door knock, and approach seniors about Medicare Supplement plans.
Only one state has restrictions on the marketing of Medicare Supplement plans.
That state is Ohio. Their law prohibits the following for both Medicare Advantage AND Medicare Supplement marketing.
(2) Any of the following unsolicited contacts with a Medicare-eligible person:
(a) Door-to-door solicitation including leaving information such as a leaflet, flyer, or door hanger at a residence, or leaving information such as a leaflet or flyer on someone's car;
(b) Approaching individual prospective applicants in common areas (e.g., parking lots, hallways, lobbies, sidewalks, etc.);
(c) Telephonic solicitation including leaving electronic voicemail messages;
(d) These prohibitions on marketing through unsolicited contacts do not extend to mail and other media (e.g., advertisements, direct mail), or unsolicited contacts with prospective applicants with whom the entity or insurance agent has a business relationship.
Near the end of this podcast, I have several suggestions for various new ways to market Medicare Supplement plans through centers of influence.
Those referenced interviews are found at MedicareAgentTraining.com
Also on the topic of telemarketing – You CANNOT call folks for Medicare Advantage plans, as said before:
Today, Monday June 9, 2014, I had FIVE agents write to me that they've just sold their first Medicare Supplement policies.
Their membership costs here at the support site are now waived forever.
Thank you guys (and gal) for stepping up and stepping apart!
You continue to prove that yes, this can be done successfully, and I'm very proud to be working with you!!!!
One major carrier that entered the Medicare Supplement market last year initially had a very strict clause in their contract that they almost-immediately removed due to agent backlash. It said an agent could not, under any circumstances, replace one of their policies for at least two years.
There is also a major agency out there that recruits with a “free leads” model for Medicare Supplements that says that the owner specifically prohibits you to contact your clients that you've written, after you've written them.
He says in his agent contract that he believes it's in their best interest to be “left alone” and not bothered again by the agent.
“If they don't call you, leave them alone and they will stay.“
This is because the agent makes the majority of the first year commission and the agency only stands to make money in subsequent years.
Replacing the business would not benefit the agency at all.
I want to thank agents and agencies with that mentality for making my and my agent's business a thriving success. We replace policies where agents have written the policy and then completely disappeared with no follow up, whatsoever.
My conscience will not allow me to write a widow with a company that I know just gave a huge, unexpected rate increase and just let her stay there with no option.
Here are the alternatives:
1] Write the policy and hope and pray the senior never calls you. Don't follow up, just tell them it's approved and move on to the next prospect call.
After their big rate increase (year 2, year 4 – whenever) they will be waiting for a call to save money or will actively search for a replacement policy.
2] Write the policy and follow up at least 4 times over that first year. They will be a raving fan and often times tell everyone they know about this amazing agent that saved them $XXXX per year from where they were. When a rate increase comes, provide them the option to move, again reminding them that you're independent and not a captive agent.
This results in:
A) More Referrals
B) Reset of 6 year commission clock for residuals
C) Step up in basis (making commission on higher amount, still less than their proposed renewal was.
I have heard, thousands of times now, that the senior cannot remember the name of their agent. They've never heard from him (or her) after the initial sale. “They were all chasing me down when I was 65, then they disappeared and I just didn't know where to go. I'm so glad you all called!”
If you want to build a serious, residual income business, a focus on follow-up and a client retention strategy is a key component.
It's just good business to take care of those who have placed their trust in you to do the right thing by them.
“The Fortune is in the Follow Up”.
This is a public post answering the question, “When is the best time to start my new Medicare Supplement plan.”
See the video:
This answers the question as to the best effective date for a new Medigap plan.
NOTE: For those on Medicare Disability, and turning 65, the effective date of their >65 Medicare Supplement has to be ON THEIR exact birthday… NOT on the first of their birthday month.
Why? Because since they're already on <65 Medicare, due to disability, THEIR Open Enrollment period starts actually on their birthday. So, you can write Plan G, etc. because of Open Enrollment, but it cannot start before their actual birthday.
They do get another Initial Election Period (IEP), also known as Open Enrollment – any plan from any carrier (and full comp for you) when they get a Medicare Supplement due to being 65.
Read this great article on Medicare due to Disability and what states have what protections in place.
As to when Medicare, itself, starts:
When will my Medicare coverage start?
|If you sign up for Part A (if you have to buy it) and/or Part B in this month:||Your coverage starts:|
|The month you turn 65||1 month after you sign up|
|1 month after you turn 65||2 months after you sign up|
|2 months after you turn 65||3 months after you sign up|
|3 months after you turn 65||3 months after you sign up|
|During the January 1–March 31 General Enrollment Period||July 1|
An agent recently asked me, “Is it really possible to succeed, selling Medicare Supplements from home, as a one-man show?”
Yes, absolutely you can succeed at it.
Here are some of the keys to making it as a one-person agency to get started:
I'm often asked, “WHEN is the best time to ask your client, or potential client, about other products that they may be interested in?”
Yes, there are plenty of things that your clients may eventually want to purchase, but the best thing to do is to first make them a client, preferably by saving them money. Then, and only then, talk about cross selling other products to your Medicare Supplement client.
The Fortune is in the Follow Up
Medicare supplements provide insurance agents the opportunity for residual income. But, with that opportunity, comes responsibility. The responsibility is to take care of your clients and continue to shop for them in the future. It is not a one time transaction.
It should be an on-going relationship of taking care of their needs.
It is very rewarding to offer seniors the chance to shop for the best Medicare Supplement rate and move to the better offer. All Medicare Supplement plans are the same. They perform exactly the same way. The only difference (found on Pg 68 of the 2014 Medicare & You Guidebook) is in the premium.
And there is a great difference in the premiums.
We are often able to save our senior clients from $50 to $150 per month on the same, exact plan that they have.
The fact is, their agent should have been shopping the market for a better plan much sooner than allowing them to get that far out of whack from the best rate in the market.
The insurance companies HOPE that the senior never shops the market again. They take it for granted that they will not go shopping and will stay right where they are. They then continue to raise the rate, faster and faster.
It is definitely in the senior's best interest to shop at every announcement of a rate increase. If you, the agent, has a relationship with your client, you'll be able to be the one they call to shop again.
Glad we are focused on Medicare Supplements, which remain untouched by this news. - CW
Insurers face about 3.6% Medicare Advantage rate cuts
Health insurers participating in the Medicare Advantage program for elderly Americans, including Humana Inc. and UnitedHealth Group Inc., face a payment cut of about 3.55 percent next year, the U.S. government said.
“There's a lot of trepidation awaiting this letter and not a few Wall Street analysts and CEOs who are like a long-tailed cat in a room full of rocking chairs these days,” John Gorman, executive chairman of Gorman Health Group, a consulting firm in Washington, said before the cuts were announced. “There's all kinds of things around that could hurt.”
Consumers who choose Advantage plans are opting for managed care, with benefits including lower out-of-pocket costs, over the traditional government-run Medicare program for the elderly and disabled. Government payments have been under pressure since 2010, when the U.S. health expansion was financed in part by reducing spending on Advantage plans by an estimated $206 billion over a decade.
At the time, U.S. spending for Advantage beneficiaries was estimated to be as much as 13 percent higher than for people enrolled in traditional Medicare, leading to criticism the Advantage plans were overpaid.
Even after the cuts, the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission, which studies the program for Congress and recommends cost savings, estimates that Advantage plans were paid about 4 percent more in 2013, per beneficiary, than the cost of the traditional program.
‘Seniors are watching'
Last year, the administration raised 2014 base payments for Advantage insurers by 3.3 percent, after initially proposing a 2.2 percent reduction.
Still, insurers say that other government decisions — including a new tax on the industry under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and budget sequestration ordered by Congress — reduced their Advantage payments about 6.7 percent in total this year.
Before Friday's announcement, insurers predicted a proposed cut of as much as 6.5 percent. Their lobbying campaign has included posters plastered around Washington that picture an elderly man with a pair of binoculars, with the warning “Seniors Are Watching.”
The 40 U.S. senators who wrote to Medicare administrator Marilyn Tavenner to ask for payments to be frozen were led by Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., and Michael Crapo, R-Idaho.
The program “has been a great success and should remain a competitive choice for our constituents,” the senators said. “We urge you to maintain payment levels that will allow MA beneficiaries to be protected from disruptive changes in 2015.”
While Medicare actuaries estimate enrollment in Advantage plans will dip next year, the Congressional Budget Office predicted that participation may rise as much as 50 percent in the next decade to 21 million by fiscal 2023.
Plan G is a better value than Plan F. Every day every time.
Because even if the rate is not drastically better today, the renewals surely will be better (for Plan G) tomorrow.
Mutual of Omaha on February 12, 2014 had a post purporting the benefits of Plan G.
This was covered in depth for our members in this webinar, where not only are the benefits shown, but the salesmanship to go along with it are explored. The only company in the market paying commissions on the Part B deductible is New Era (and sister company Philadelphia American). This means, with the other companies, you are not getting paid commission on the deductible, anyway.
In my opinion, it is far better to separate yourself from the competition by saving your client the most money today, and at renewal time, by strongly recommending Plan G.
Remember, though, that many seniors just won't get it. Some are not capable of understanding the numbers and just want the convenience of Plan F. Don't be discouraged when you encounter this. They just don't want to be bothered. In the end, the customer is always right, and I'm happy to sell them what they are looking for.
Last night I was out with my wife and saw, on a restaurant's TV, a commercial playing on the ESPN channel.
The commercial was for SelectQuote Senior – their new senior division, selling Medicare Supplements to seniors.
Upon reviewing their site, they have a very limited, and somewhat outdated, list of carriers that they represent in the Medicare Supplement market. For instance, they're still selling Gerber Life and GPM Life's Medicare Supplement plans, neither of which are competitive anymore.
The fact that such a large company is entering the Medicare Supplement marketplace reinforces that this is definitely the place to be!
The recent report by CSG Actuarial said that the outlook for 2014 and beyond for the Medicare Supplement market is very good.
Proving once again, selling Medicare Supplements by phone CAN be done!
Here is the commercial I saw:
Update since the post:
Comment from Paul in KC:
On Sun, Feb 2 at 11:35 AM , Paul wrote:
A new study by the CSG Actuarial folks says that it is a very good time to be in the Medicare Supplement market.
By Doug Feekin on January 31, 2014 —
Now that we’ve put a wrap on 2013, here’s a 2014 Medicare Supplement market forecast from CSG Actuarial. All in all, it is a very good time to be in the Medicare Supplement market. The market is expanding due to the demographics in the United States and the risk issues of the past few years seemed to have settled down. Most companies are realizing additional profits from lower claim trends and attempting to increase market share.
Claim Trends Stay Lower
CSG Actuarial is projecting that overall Medicare and Medicare Supplement claim trends will continue the pattern from the past three years and remain lower in 2014. Along with the overall lower claim trends, Medicare Supplement Plans C and F should experience further dampening of their claim trends due to the Part B Deductible not increasing in 2014.
Lower Claim Trends | Lower Premium Increases
CSG Actuarial is projecting that these lower claim trends will continue to drive lower and/or delayed premium increases. Overall premium rate increases have declined the past three years and we expect 2014 rate increases to be generally in line with the level of increases implemented in 2013.
CSG Actuarial is projecting a continued emphasis on Plan G from some of the primary companies in the Medicare Supplement market. In most instances, the premium savings for Plan G versus Plan F is substantially greater than the out of pocket cost of the Part B Deductible and some agents are starting to put more focus on plans other than F.
Sales, Sales, Sales
CSG Actuarial is projecting continued growth in the overall sales in the Medicare Supplement market. Our current estimate for overall 2014 Medicare Supplement annualized new premium sales is between $3.5 and $3.6 billion. CSG Actuarial expects that at least 10 companies will have Medicare Supplement sales greater than $50 million in 2014.
New Market Entrants
CSG Actuarial is projecting an increase of new entrants into the Medicare Supplement market in 2014. The pipeline appears to contain at least 10 and possibly as many as 15 companies attempting to put new Medicare Supplement products on the street in 2014.
About CSG Actuarial
CSG Actuarial is a leading provider of actuarial and competitive information for supplemental products. CSG has more than 50 years of actuarial experience with pricing, product development and competitive intelligence within the Medicare Supplement, Critical Illness, Cancer, Final Expense, and Hospital Indemnity markets. Call 855-861-8776 or email [email protected] to learn more.
(Remember, you can utilize the CSG Quote engine for free using our tools. See the Tools page.)
Today, Central States Indemnity Company (CSI Life) announced that they are ending the sale of final expense plans effective March 1, 2014.
A company news release through their distributor, AIMC, today said they will not be renewing any state appointments for CSI life.
The release says that any business in place with CSI Life will continue to remain in force as long as the insured pays the premium, and that renewal commission will continue to be paid.
They also say that they are very committed to the Medicare Supplement market.
This is the second carrier in as many weeks that has announced they are leaving the final expense market.
Last week, we covered the fact that Forethought Life Insurance Company told their FMO‘s that they are leaving the final expense market and will no longer accept applications after January 31, 2014.
As mentioned in the first webinar of 2014, we have a study going on with the following lead sources for the first quarter of 2014.
1) Internet leads targeting Medicare Supplement online leads
– Using AllWebLeads / InsuranceLeads.com
2) Direct Mail to 68-72 year olds. 4,000 pieces mailed, split between:
– Using Kramer Lead Marketing's “Medicare Comparison” piece and
– Using LeadConnections.com “E-80” lead piece
3) Telemarketed Leads using the new discount with the phone room with USA operators.
The study is well underway and updates will be sent to all members when ready.
In a recent story by Forbes online, they state:
“The Obama team has made a warm embrace of managed care options when it comes to Obamacare and Medicaid. But for Medicare, they want to deny low-income seniors these options. All of the administration's old arguments on why they resisted these private Medicare plans have been largely mooted, or never materialized.”
The Forbes.com article goes on to site a study that says at least 13% of Medicare Advantage plans expect to be eliminated by 2015. The agent in the Medicare market must strongly consider having a deeply rooted anchor in the Medicare Supplement market, as we do.
As always, I'll continue to keep you updated on the changes and opportunities in this awesome marketplace, here on MedicareAgentTraining.com.
Source: More Cuts In Store For Medicare Plans — Here Are The Options That Will Shrink Most For Seniors
On the Friday webinar for members, held January 3, 2014, I laid out the predictions from all of the experts on the decline for Medicare Advantage business in the near future. This is for a variety of reasons, not the least of which was the shenanigans employed by the president just prior to the election, where Medicare Advantage would be propped up to shield seniors from the cuts in the ACA – until just AFTER the election.
See the webinar on this topic here:
Today, an article was written by Bloomberg pointing to the same conclusion.
It is an interesting read, and further proves my prediction was correct. Medicare Supplements are the wave of the future, not Medicare Advantage!
Make sure that you're a member of MedicareAgentTraining.com to get the latest, even before the pundits, on what's happening in our market. If you're not a member, you can join here.
Today, I was introduced to the famous quotes of Ben Franklin, and WOW.
I think all of these specifically apply to small business people and salespeople, specifically.
In my experience with agents, I have found that the #1 cause of failure for insurance agents is that they not followed these principles. I never knew, until today, that all of these principles were espoused to prominently by our founding fathers, too!
Here are Benjamin Franklin’s Top 9 Pieces of Advice for Living a Productive Life
1. The sleeping fox catches no poultry.
2. Lost time is never found again.
3. Laziness travels so slowly, that poverty soon overtakes him.
4. Early to bed, and early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise.
5. There are no gains, without pains.
6. Diligence is the mother of good luck.
7. Be ashamed to catch yourself idle.
8. Let not the sun look down and say, “inglorious, here he lies”.
9. A life of leisure and a life of laziness are two separate things.
Re-posted from Chris Bloor:
FACTS ABOUT FOLLOW UP
• 48% of sales people never follow up with a prospect
• 25% of sales people make a second contact and stop
• 12% of sales people make more than three contacts
• 2% of sales are made on the first contact
• 3% of sales are made on the second contact
• 5% of sales are made on the third contact
• 10% of sales are made on the fourth contact
• 80% of sales are made on the fifth to twelfth contact
Creating and using a simple follow up system [that works on autopilot] is a guaranteed way to grow your business.
CONSIDER THIS: With less than 52% of all sales people following up with their prospects at all, you will not only grow your business but you will stand out ‘head and shoulders’ amongst your peers.
And bearing in mind that 80% of sales are made in the 5th to 12th contact if you are in a market with serious competition you can literally eliminate your competitors by simply following up on your prospects diligently and consistently.
We use follow-up systems like Send Out Cards for insurance agents, with customized campaigns that we make available to members.
Whatever you use, you must employ some sort of follow up system. All professionals do, if they plan to stick around!
I'm convinced that the reason for my agency's success has been the effective use of time.
See the video:
If you are willing to do NOW what others are not, you will have, LATER, what others will not.
I wish you the best in your business. It's your choice!