AHIP Sees 28% Increase in Medigap Enrollment Among Seniors

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

Medigap enrollment up in 2015

 

– AHIP has released data showing that enrollment in the Medicare Supplement, Medigap, has seen a steady increase from 2014 to December 2015.   The data represents statistics from 11.8 million enrollees with policies from 305 separate insurers.

The steady increase is due to the standard deductible, and rising out-of-pocket costs for Medicare members, AHIP says.  As an essential source of Medicare supplemental coverage, Medigap fills a critical need in the healthcare coverage ecosystem.

The report states that in 2015, Medicare Part A had a $1,260 deductible per benefit period for inpatient hospital care and coinsurance beginning with day 61 of hospitalization.  Part B required a 20 percent coinsurance for outpatient and physician care after an annual deductible of $147.

The AHIP data showed four main trends within the Medigap data:

All Medigap enrollment increased from 11.2 million in December 2014 to 11.8 million in December 2015. 

Plan G enrollment, which provides coverage of all Medicare deductible and coinsurance amounts except the Part B deductible increased by 28 percent from 2014 to 2015, or by 198,000 enrollees.

Enrollment in Plan K, which provides partial coverage for coinsurance and copayments and has an out-of-pocket limit of $4,940, also increased by 28 percent from 2014 to 2015, or by 16,000 enrollees.

An increase in the percent of fee-for-service (FFS) Medicare beneficiaries with Medigap plans increased from 30 percent in 2014 to 32 percent in 2015.

A partial explanation for the increase in Medigap coverage is directly related to the shifting sands of Medicare coverage since 1990, which has left beneficiaries and payers in flux.

This began in 1990 with an omnibus spending plan that required Medigap plans sold after 1992 to conform to one of 10 uniform benefit packages.

Then in 2003, the Medicare Modernization Act (MMA) required elimination of prescription drug benefits, authorized two new plans (K and L) with cost-sharing features, and encouraged development of standardized benefit designs with additional cost sharing features.

More cuts came in 2008 with the passage of the Medicare Improvements for Patients and Providers Act (MIPPA).   This legislation led to the elimination of at-home recovery benefits to be replaced with hospice care.  It also included the removal of preventive care benefits in response to increased FFS coverage.  2008 did see the introduction of two new Medigap policies (Plans M and N) with increased beneficiary cost-sharing features.

Medicare SELECT plans are identical to standardized Medigap plans but require policyholders to use provider networks to receive full benefits.   This results in Medicare SELECT plans to generally cost less than related Medigap plans.

In April 2015, Congress passed the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2015 (MACRA).

MACRA states that as of January 1, 2020, Medigap insurance carriers may no longer sell Medigap plans covering the Part B deductible to newly eligible Medicare recipients.  Only individuals who are age 65 before 2020 or those Medicare eligible due to a disability will qualify.

Three states maintain waived Medigap plans, exempt from all legislative changes from 1990 on. The three states (Massachusetts, Minnesota, and Wisconsin) continue to offer standardized Medigap plans.   Individuals who had purchased Medigap plans in these states do have the ability to keep their coverage if they move out of the three waiver states.

According to the NAIC data, 97 percent of Medigap policies in force on December 31, 2015 were standardized plans. Pre-standardized plans made up only three percent of existing Medigap policies.

Medigap plans are “guaranteed renewable” regardless of when they were purchased. This means Medigap policyholders can maintain their coverage and not have their policy cancelled if there is continued payment of premiums.

AHIP noted that Medigap plans with the highest rate of growth offered the beneficiary a predictable and consistent premium.  This feature was especially important to fixed-income Medicare members.

It also saw plans that mirrored features seen in traditional commercial products (coverage for copayments, coinsurance, and deductibles) favored by consumers.

Former Cop, Now Medicare Agent. Why?

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

Cross Selling Brings BIG Money per Case

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:
https://MedicareAgentTraining.com

Do your own research before your clients do!

We owe it to our prospective clients to know what we are talking about.

When a prospect asks you about a particular company, and you don't know anything about that company, SEARCH IT.

I have been asked, in the last six months, to represent and promote two companies that a simple Google search reveals have HORRIBLE financial histories that are out there for the public to see.

If you think that your newly signed client will not be searching Google for the name of the company that will hold their financial future in their hands, you're mistaken. They will do the searching, even if you won't.

So, do your “due diligence” and search for the company history and see what your clients will see when you are confronted with a question about a company or considering representing one.

This morning's support ticket was an agent asking why I do not offer Shenandoah Life.

This was part of my reply:

There is no way in the world I would put someone with a company that has such a history.

A simple Google search, which you should have done and your clients WILL DO will usually solve these.
You should research any company that your prospects mention

A few of the top things you would discover:

http://www.lifehealthpro.com/…/virginia-sets-the-date-for-s…

http://www.roanoke.com/…/article_17277e6c-dd64-11e3-822d-00…

http://www.roanoke.com/…/article_e2cdb02c-cc98-11e3-b9ad-00…

How to Mail Policies to Clients

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:
http://3dmailresults.com/product-category/express-envelopes/

 

Medicare Supplement Training

Podcast on: Stop Wasting Time (by doing busy work)

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.

 

Medicare Supplement Training

Potential Changes to Part B

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.

 

Part B Deductible History

We will continue to monitor this recommendation's impact on seniors and whether or not it will be adopted.

Stay tuned!

-Chris Westfall

Medicare Supplement Training

 

It’s Official: CIGNA and Anthem to Merge

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!

-CW
See the announcement:

CIGNA Anthem Merger Announcement

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Medicare Training for Agents at MedicareAgentTraining.com

How much should you charge for Medicare advice?

Over the 4th of July weekend, I received an e-mail offering a comparison of all of the Medicare Supplement rates in my area for ONLY $49!
This was such a deal because their usual cost is $99 for an unbiased quote of all Medicare Supplement plans in my area.

What a deal, right?

Wrong. I'm often asked by potential clients what my service costs.. for me to look up the rates and also provide them the background on the companies listed in the results. Very happily, I tell them that our service costs them nothing, as it is included in the cost of the premiums, whether they went direct to the carrier OR used the service of an experienced agent. No extra cost!

I did a video about my reaction, and show the e-mail from the company offering the $49 Medicare Supplement quote.

Chris Westfall
Medicare Supplement Training

CIGNA Buys Sterling Life Insurance Company

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

Medicare 101 Training

Radio Interview with Chris Westfall on Medicare

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):

How come I can’t have those rates?

The quote engine we see is a reflection of today's published rates by the carrier.
This has absolutely NOTHING to do with the rate the long time customer is paying right now.

What you are seeing on the quote engine software, or the rates offered today, does not in any way correspond with the rate increase that a particular person has received over the period of time with the company.

You are not looking at THEIR rates that they have risen to, right now.
You are merely looking at what the rates would be, today, if the person was a new client.

This is a better way to present it. I tell them that if they were a NEW customer with THEIR same insurance company, they would be treated MUCH better today. Insurance companies do not reward loyalty. They are always offering better deals for the NEW people. Just like a cable company, cell phone company, etc.

Even today, gym memberships, etc. will offer a very special program, but the small print says, “Not available to current members.” It is because they already have you, lock, stock, and barrel.

If you don't shop the market, at least every two years, you are at a tremendous disadvantage.
The insurance companies are loyal to one thing – the DOLLAR. And they want new clients, always.
The ones they've already got, they'll continue to raise the rates faster.
See the video:

How do you cancel the old Medicare Supplement policy?

https://MedicareAgentTraining.com

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!

Click here:  http://senioragentpodcast.com/sap-009-cancelling-medicare-supplement-policy/

 

 

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?

 

 

Is it legal to call folks about their Medicare plan?

Is it legal to cold call for Medicare plans?

Excerpt from SeniorAgentPodcast on iTunes:

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, that I know of, 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

 Hear the audio of the podcast answer here.

Chris Was Featured Speaker at 2014 Agent Summit

I had such a great time as a featured speaker at the 2014 SMS Sales Summit in Columbia, Missouri on May 20, 2014.

The event was great fun and I was able to meet about 20 members of the site!
It was so much fun to be able to put faces with the names, finally!
< [email protected]@ My session began with me entering the room wearing a blue bathing suit and yellow t-shirt. (See the pictures below).... Read more Chris Was Featured Speaker at 2014 Agent Summit

Replace or Leave Them Alone?

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.

Read more Replace or Leave Them Alone?

Best time to start a new Medicare Supplement plan

This is a public post answering the question, “When is the best time to start my new Medicare Supplement plan.”

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 birth day.