Guiding Beneficiaries through Medicare: For New Insurance Agents
If you’re a new insurance agent, breaking into the Medicare market can seem intimidating. The Medicare market brings many opportunities for agents, as the Baby Boomer generation continues to age-in to Medicare, it is imperative for insurance agents to explain and navigate the many paths Medicare health plans provide. The opportunity to help educate beneficiaries on their health plan options won’t be ending anytime soon; the youngest group of Baby Boomers will be turning 65 in the year 2029.
There are various Medicare plans on the market today, and aging-in beneficiaries are looking for insurance agents that will provide them with the help they need to understand their options and to show them the resources available to them, so they don’t have to search the plan options without guidance. Though there are many enrollment websites that pop-up when a beneficiary searches online for plan information, studies show that the Boomer population prefers to have in-person interaction or over-the-phone interaction to get immediate answers to their questions. Boomers are less likely to enroll online without the assistance of an insurance agent to explore underwriting, formularies, and other plan specifics.
Here are a few ways you can provide a helping hand and make Medicare-related decisions more manageable and less confusing for your prospects:
Become an expert.
To fully understand Medicare and your capability of answering client’s questions, you should seek out training in Medicare. Not only should you seek out training on the basics of Medicare, but most insurance carriers also require face-to-face or online certifications before you can compliantly sell products like Medicare Advantage and Part D Prescription Drug Plans. One type of training that is required annually before selling MA and PDP plans is called AHIP. This certificate must be submitted to carriers before you are considered “ready to sell.” Agent Pipeline offers several training sessions on Medicare, from the most basic courses to advanced courses focusing on the target audiences and unique marketing strategy for each. Nonetheless, it’s incredibly important to be able to guide your clients in the right direction when it comes to choosing programs that are a good fit for them. It’s also important to know the questions you need to ask your clients to determine their needs. We recommend learning more about value-based selling by taking our short self-study course “Using a Needs Analysis.” Click here to download your copy and get started today.
Utilizing a consultative approach usually results in increased customer satisfaction. Customers want to know you’re willing to help, regardless of your paycheck. Taking the consultative approach shows your prospects and customers you genuinely care about finding a plan that is a good fit, as opposed to merely looking for an easy sale. Beneficiaries want and need your help to guide them, so it’s essential to provide them with quality information. Always bring a business card that gives your beneficiaries ways to contact you via telephone, email, or online. Ask them to sign up for your newsletter so that you can keep him updated on industry changes and essential information about their health plan. Establishing trust is key to forming a lasting relationship with your beneficiaries which helps to increase your opportunities to successfully cross-sell other plans and keep your business on the book.
Be a one-stop shop for Medicare.
No beneficiary wants to be handed a million pieces of information that talk about things they don’t understand. It’s better to provide them with a single resource with all of the data, tools, and advice they need to make the right choice when it comes to choosing a Medicare plan.
In a nutshell, insurance agents need to speak the language of their beneficiaries and provide them with resources they feel comfortable using and navigating.
As an insurance agent, you have an advantage when it comes to knowing the biggest mistakes made by beneficiaries. Your knowledge, experience, and guidance are all exceedingly important when it comes to creating a smooth experience for your clients. Here are a few important aspects to keep in mind when working with beneficiaries:
- Get your clients signed up at the right time. For beneficiaries that are aging into Medicare, the Initial Enrollment Period is based on their 65th birthday. To ensure that beneficiaries avoid penalties from signing up too early or too late, be sure that they know what steps they should be taking and when they need to take them.
- Make sure that your client knows the difference between specific products — for instance; your clients should understand the difference between a Medicare Supplement and a Medicare Advantage Plan. Beneficiaries should be informed that they will need to choose either Original Medicare and opt to add a Medicare Supplement to fill in coverage gaps, or a Medicare Advantage plan that may include a Part D Prescription drug plan. The differences between the two products are significant, so be sure to explain each product in depth. Many beneficiaries do not know there is a difference, or that a Medicare Supplement cannot be used with a Medicare Advantage, and so on. Try creating a “Guide to Medicare” brochure to give your clients during presentations or appointments. If you need assistance with the development of these materials, there are many free resources available for customization! Login to your carrier’s Agent Portal and review their marketing materials, or download Agent Pipeline’s Marketing Catalog and begin customization today.
- Don’t let your clients make guesses about their coverage. Many beneficiaries do their research on plans and products, but with the multitude of products on the market, beneficiaries may find themselves getting frustrated, and resort to making an impulsive As an insurance agent, you are there to help clarify information for your clients. Ask them questions about their current and past insurance coverage, chronic conditions, preferred doctors and hospitals, as well as the prescriptions they need. This is where using Agent Pipeline’s Needs Analysis template will come in handy. We provide you with compliant scripting and an easy-to-use digital tool (or you can print it out!) to help guide you and your beneficiary through uncovering their medical and financial needs. When beneficiaries can see tangible evidence of the type of coverage they need, the sale is almost guaranteed.
- Show your clients how to apply for financial assistance. Most beneficiaries do not know about the resources available that can aid in paying for prescriptions, insurance premiums, deductibles, and coinsurance. Showing them how to apply for Extra Help and Low-Income Subsidy plans will set you apart from other agents. While many insurance agents are simply there for an easy sale and move on to the next beneficiary, taking time to show them there are opportunities to help them pay for their prescription drug plans and other services will help earn you referrals and client loyalty. Dual Special Needs Plans (D-SNPs) are often used for individuals who have chronic conditions (e.g., diabetes, COPD, ) and are lower-income. This population is often referred to as the ultimate “word of mouth” population. If you take time to educate your beneficiaries and guide them, this will also increase your chances of these clients acting as a source of word of mouth marketing.
- Check in with your client often, but make it a priority to reassess their coverage on an annual basis. Different aspects of life change from year to year, so it’s important to make sure that your client’s plan is meeting their needs. Plans will also make changes each year; their rates may increase or decrease, their network of providers may change, as well as their drug formulary. A great rule of thumb is to schedule your annual review at the time of your initial appointment or utilize a CRM (client relationship management) tool to set reminders for triggers. These triggers for communicating with your client can be something as simple as their birthday, their enrollment anniversary (both 6-month and annual anniversary). Triggers are essential for marketing efforts for cross-selling, but also for client retention.
Helping a Medicare beneficiary make the right choice for their health plan is critical. This process can be very complex and confusing. Insurance agents that provide valuable knowledge and exceptional customer service will continue to grow their business as Baby Boomers continue to age-in to Medicare eligibility.
For more information on providing your clients with excellent services, one-on-one training and consultations about getting started in the Medicare market, or expanding your current Medicare product portfolio, give us a call at 800-962-4693.