Are Medicare Supplements On Your Radar This Fall?

Presented by Leonard Berthelsen

That time of the year is quickly approaching where there is much focus on the Medicare program and supplemental coverage that is a part of your client’s insurance portfolio or soon will be.  Are you ready, do you know how the whole program works?

Let’s start with a common misconception about Medicare Supplement insurance coverage.  Most Medicare Supplement coverage is sold throughout the year and not during the so-called “open enrollment” with the Medicare system.  Medicare recipients can change their supplement coverage throughout the year going from one carrier to another as long as they can qualify medically for the coverage.

For those turning 65, they have an “open enrollment” window of seven months to officially sign up for Medicare; three months prior to their birth month in which they turn 65, their birth month, and three months after their birth month is the eligible timeframe for enrollment without medical underwriting.

Many clients simply want to know what their health care costs are going to be after Medicare makes their determination on payment.  A supplemental plan can eliminate or make the remaining costs very manageable and take the guesswork out of the equation.  They have to be instructed on how it all works. Are you ready?

Every day, another ten thousand people are turning 65 here in the US and are now eligible for Medicare. Are you positioned to talk with this huge trove of potential clients?  They are looking for advice and guidance on what product best fits and helps them alleviate potentially huge medical expenses.  Medicare Supplement coverage for over 60% of eligible recipients will be the answer.  Are you going to be the one to bring it to them?

The Aging of the Baby Boomer Generation has an Enormous Effect on Federal and State Budgets

Presented by Leonard Berthelsen

It was only a matter of time before the effect of the aging of Baby Boomers hit the Federal & State budgets. With less than 10% of this class of folks owning long-term care insurance, it has become necessary for the Federal Medicare and Medicaid system to review their budgets but also review what they are approving for payment.

The big challenge that the federal government faced when trying to find ways to rein in some of these costs was that they were being looked at as being a heartless bureaucratic entity. By putting some of the burden back on the consumer for payment of services, they are scrutinizing those services and in many cases simply saying no to services altogether. That hasn’t set well with this generation of folks. The government was accused of developing “death panels”, as they were called, to try to rein in some of these expenses by considering the likelihood of patients’ recovery and ongoing quality of life. Medicare & Medicaid are jointly spending trillions of dollars every year and there is no light at the end of this tunnel. As a class of people, we are living longer, yet dying slower with health issues that are expensive to treat.

It would be great if our government would pay whatever was needed to provide medical services for anything and everything that could medically go wrong. However, we know that is not practical or sustainable. Yet we still want the best care, by the best trained medical staff and at the lowest cost. Somewhere, something had to give.

The Medicare and Medicaid system are in fact taking a hard look at rehab invoices and home health care bills. If the facility or provider is not following the letter of the rule, then Medicare and Medicaid will choose not to pay for the services. It then becomes the responsibility of the patient to pay out of pocket for this care. This could be several hundred dollars to several thousand. Medicare is allowing hospitals to admit recipients for non-emergency admissions under the term “observation” instead of full admission, thus putting more of a financial burden on the patient.

What can you do to help your clients? Certainly, long-term care insurance will help tremendously with the outpatient side of the medical expenses. Also such plans as Recovery Care, Hospital Confinement & Home Care coverage will fill in the voids that we are seeing being created by both Medicare and Medicaid as they struggle to make their budgets work. Having the patient be more in-tune with what is actually being charged for those services certainly makes the government feel like they are being better stewards of our tax dollars than what we have seen from them in the past.

Have you considered a High-Deductible Medicare Supplement Plan F?

Presented by Tim Dreher

Do your healthy senior clients ever express to you their frustration about paying high monthly premiums for their Medicare Supplement policies and then rarely using them? Are they tired of getting “the letter” every year from their insurance company announcing yet another round of rate increases?

There is an alternative that you and your clients might want to consider. Maybe you should be talking to those clients about switching to a High-Deductible Medicare Supplement Plan F.

If your clients are willing to pay out of pocket for certain health care costs then maybe a high-deductible plan is the answer for them. A high-deductible Medigap plan can help your clients save on premium costs while still getting dependable coverage for their healthcare needs. Premiums for a high-deductible Medicare Supplement Plan F typically run about one third to one fourth of what you would normally pay for a regular Medicare Supplement Plan F. Like any other Medicare Supplement policy, high-deductible plans still have the largest nationwide network of doctors and hospitals because they have the same network as original Medicare.

Let’s take a look at how these plans work. A high-deductible Medicare Supplement Plan F pays the same benefits as a regular Medicare Supplement Plan F but only after the policyholder has satisfied a calendar year deductible. For 2016 that deductible amount is $2,180. In other words, the deductible amount represents the annual out-of-pocket expenses that the policyholder must pay before the plan starts paying benefits.

Out-of-pocket expenses attributed to this deductible are those Medicare approved expenses that would ordinarily be paid by the policy. It is important to remember that the deductible is only applied to the Medicare Supplement portion. Medicare will still pay approximately 80% of any approved service and the Medicare beneficiary is responsible for the remaining 20%, which is then picked up by the Medicare Supplement policy.

For example, one of your Medicare eligible clients has a medical procedure that costs $5,000. Typically, Medicare would cover $4,000 of the bill and the individual’s Medicare Supplement policy would pick up the remaining $1,000. If your client owned a high-deductible plan then he or she would pay the $1,000 out of pocket that would be applied toward the deductible. Once the deductible is met the Plan would pay the same as a regular Plan F.

I would imagine that many of your senior clients would be open to the ideas of a high-deductible plan since most are used to paying higher deductibles with their pre-age 65 health plans.

A high-deductible Plan F is certainly not for everyone. But for those healthy clients of yours that like the idea of paying a much lower premium and are comfortable knowing that the trade-off would be paying some expenses out-of pocket before the plan begins paying, the High-Deductible Medicare Supplement Plan F might be a great fit.

Medicare Supplement plans – enhancing your bottom line

Presented by Leonard Berthelsen

As an industry, we have been talking about the impact that the baby boom generation was going to have as these folks become Medicare eligible, and well, it is upon us. Despite being well-versed in Medicare and the options available, there is still a tinge of anxiety that comes up when I start to think about it. Do I stay on my current health coverage after reaching Medicare eligibility, or do I go on Medicare Part A &B? Which way is going to give me the best coverage at the best price? If I delay going on Medicare will there be a penalty?

WOW, it can be mind boggling and I’m in the insurance business! Think about a consumer and how confusing it can be for them when looking at all the options. They have many decisions to make and are they making the right one? Medicare, Medicare Supplements, Medicare Advantage, Prescription Drug Plan and Supplemental Health coverage can weigh heavily on the minds of consumers. And, that is just on the surface, as each one of those has multiple options within itself. I’m getting clammy hands as I write this.

Let’s look just at Medicare supplement coverage and what that can add to your bottom line. Someone turning 65 and in their open enrollment period becomes eligible for Medicare and can purchase a Supplemental plan without evidence of insurability. No medical underwriting, just age, gender, build, and if they are a tobacco user, are generally all the underwriting that takes place. It’s a fairly simple process. As a trusted advisor, your real value comes into play in navigating which carrier is going to meet their expectations and determining which plan with that carrier is the right choice.

There are some reports coming out that suggest there are not enough advisors working in this market causing many consumers to make decisions about their health care on their own. Some are making the right decisions while others are merely guessing and hoping that they got it right. Do you think you could become that advisor that has the expertise to navigate the market and make Medicare supplemental plans an important part of your insurance practice?

Most Medicare supplemental plans offered today have level commissions for the first five to six years. Every time a client renews their coverage, the renewal is paid to the advisor. If an advisor wrote five supplemental plans a month, he/she could add $15,000 to their bottom line. When the clients renew their coverage, that $15,000 is earned again plus the additional commission for the five new monthly plans for the new year. This means that by the end of year two, the advisor has added a nice $30,000+ to their bottom line. Continue that same thought process out to the end of year five and now you have some real dollars to consider. This could boost your annual income by $75,000 – $100,000 by the end of the fifth year. That is not counting any LTC, hybrid LTC, life Insurance, annuity or supplemental products that may get placed along with the supplemental plan.

Becoming the “go to” advisor for Medicare supplemental coverage might just put your career on a different plateau.

Do you have the tools to be successful this Medicare Annual Open Enrollment Period?

Presented by Michelle Daharsh

Medicare’s Annual Enrollment Period (AEP) is one of the busiest times of the year for producers that work the senior market and it is right around the corner! Every year from October 15 – December 7, people enrolled in Medicare Advantage (MA) plans have the opportunity to dis-enroll from their current plan and select a new MA plan or return to Original Medicare and purchase a Medicare supplement policy.

It’s also the time when MA organizations can discontinue plans which could leave your over age 65 clients looking for health coverage elsewhere. Keep in mind, that even though this is the enrollment time for MA members to enroll/dis-enroll, Medicare supplement members can make changes to their current plan at any time throughout the year, with any carrier. It’s important to stay in touch with your clients as they approach Medicare age as well as current Medicare supplement clients because many situations can occur that will leave them looking for plan solutions. Whether it’s aging into Medicare and finding the best plan for them, or their current plan has faced a rate increase, these situations are a great opportunity to offer that expert help that you bring to the client. Regardless of the situation, do you have the tools to help your senior clients make these necessary healthcare decisions? Financial Brokerage is proud to be representing seven strong Medicare Supplement carriers that hold a national footprint in the Medicare industry and provides an online state of the art quoting portal with e-app capabilities – we have the resources you need in making your client’s Medicare healthcare decisions simple! Visit our website and access these tools to put you on track for your most successful Medicare season yet!