According to the Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF), some 64 million Americans received Medicare in 2019. Among those recipients, 22 million enrolled in Medicare Advantage plans—up 1.6 million (8 percent) from the previous year—purchasing supplemental private insurance to offset costs Medicare doesn’t cover.
As baby boomers continue to age into Medicare beneficiary status, there’s never been a better time for agents to sell Medicare and Medicare Advantage plans to a customer segment that seems poised to grow for the foreseeable future. In fact, according to AARP, Medicare enrollment is expected to rise to 79 million by 2030! The sooner you optimize your approach to Medicare sales, the faster you’ll be able to bolster your bottom line.
1. It Helps You Establish Yourself as a Trusted Adviser
The best insurance agents anticipate their clients’ needs and don’t steer them in the wrong direction. They work tirelessly to make sure their clients are kept in the loop regarding changing regulations, new technologies, and new insurance products, and they try to add value at every step of the customer journey.
Your decision to sell ancillary insurance products can help your agency establish itself as a strategic consultant—a body that works hard to make sure your clients’ insurance needs are met. Your clients might not even know some of these ancillary products exist—or they might think that certain things (e.g., dental coverage) are included in their regular health insurance packages, only to find out the hard way that’s not the case.
What’s new about Medicare in 2020?
Medicare changes every year—at least to some extent. Here are some of the new changes for 2020:
- The Medicare Part A deductible increased from $1,364 to $1,408.
- The Medicare Part B standard premium increased from $135.50 per month to $144.60 per month, and the deductible increased from $185 to $198.
- The Medicare Part D maximum deductible increased from $415 to $435, and the out-of-pocket threshold increased from $5,100 to $6,350.
- The average Medicare Advantage premium for 2020 is $23 per month—the lowest it’s been since 2007.
So like virtually all other health insurance options, Medicare is becoming more expensive for beneficiaries. What does that mean for insurance agents like you?
How much money can I make selling Medicare?
This year, insurance salespeople are able to earn higher commissions on Medicare Advantage plans and prescription drug plans, according to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS):
For example, agents selling initial-year plans can earn $510 nationally; $574 in Connecticut, Pennsylvania, and Washington, D.C.; $636 in California and New Jersey; and $350 in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. For renewal-year plans, agents can earn $255, $287, $318, and $175 in the same locations.
Suffice it to say that, with the right approach, your brokerage stands to make a lot of money by creating and iterating on your Medicare sales strategy.
If you are trying to figure out how to increase Medicare sales, you’ve come to the right place.
This post will serve up five tips that should help you maximize your Medicare sales while selling as many Medicare Advantage plans, Medicare supplement plans (Medigap), and Medicare Prescription Drug Plans as you can along the way.
How to Increase Medicare Sales in 2020
1. Become a Medicare expert.
For many Americans, Medicare seems like a complex health insurance instrument that’s next to impossible to understand on any deep level. For the most part, that’s because it is. This sentiment is perhaps even more pronounced for those who have just aged into Medicare and have been dealing with private insurance for the last several decades. It’s a completely new world to them—one they know virtually nothing about.
As an insurance agent, it is your job to remove all the complications and uncertainty from the equation by doing your best to make Medicare and all of its adjacent insurance products as easy to understand as you possibly can. The better you can answer questions and offer the right recommendations, the more comfortable your clients will be buying Medicare from you in the first place—and the more likely they’ll be to add on additional coverage, such as a Medicare Advantage plan.
By positioning yourself as a trusted adviser—which includes going out of your way to help; anticipating your clients’ needs, pain points, and objections; and communicating early and often—you can increase your agency’s Medicare sales.
This, of course, is easier said than done. For starters, how many people can talk authoritatively about the differences between Medicare Part A, Part B, Part C, and Part D? Beyond that, Medicare and similar insurance products change every year. It is, therefore, critical for you to do everything you can to stay on top of the changes in the industry so that you are always able to provide up-to-date information throughout the year—and particularly as we move closer to the annual enrollment period (AEP).
At the same time, you need to ensure that you stay in compliance with the Medicare marketing guidelines that CMS pushes out at recurring intervals. The last thing you want is to find out the hard way that you’ve run afoul of the guidelines and wind up incurring fines or other penalties.
The bottom line? The more knowledge you have about the intricacies of Medicare and the better you’re able to understand the various options, the more policies you’re likely to sell.
2. Use technology to increase Medicare sales.
Insurance agents used to have to do everything from lead generation and lead nurturing to distribution and enrollment by hand. It was an inefficient process that took a lot of time and energy. Due to human error, mistakes were common.
In the digital age, it comes as no surprise that leading insurance agencies are increasingly investing in modern tools designed to drive operational efficiencies and increase productivity.
For example, more and more agents are using customer relationship management (CRM) platforms to organize client-specific information and automated outreach. With a robust CRM in place, agents can easily keep tabs on all of their clients, organizing details such as birthdays, family member names, pet names, where clients went on their last vacation, and more in one place.
Once that information is stored in the CRM, agents can streamline outreach by automating happy birthday and holiday messages, and they can also automatically send reminders to let clients know when they’re aging into Medicare or when the AEP is right around the corner.
3. Make the most of the AEP
In order to increase Medicare sales, your agency needs to make the most of the AEP every year. It’s that simple.For 2021 Medicare coverage, the AEP kicks off Oct. 15, 2020, and runs through Dec. 7, 2020.
During this period of time, Medicare enrollees can opt to keep their coverage as is, or they can decide to make changes to their plans by adding Medicare Advantage, Medicare Part D, and Medigap insurance to their policies.
When the AEP is approaching, it’s your time to shine as a trusted adviser, because there are often many blind spots in Medicare coverage.
For example, a new Medicare beneficiary might not know that dental insurance isn’t included in regular Medicare plans. By making sure that each client knows what’s covered by Medicare and what isn’t, you may be able to sell a Medicare supplement policy or ancillary insurance product—such as dental coverage or vision care, which isn’t covered by Medicare in most cases, either.
By preparing for the AEP ahead of time, you’ll be able to knock it out of the park when Oct. 15 rolls around. For the best results, don’t rest on your laurels once another AEP is in the books—even though it might be quite tempting. The post-AEP time frame presents a great opportunity for your business to drive more Medicare supplement sales.
4. Get involved in the community and network.
You can’t sell Medicare to people who don’t even know you exist in the first place. On the flip side, the more people you have in your network and the more leads you have in your pipeline, the more potential sales opportunities you’ll be able to pursue.
One way to drive more Medicare sales is by getting involved in the community and networking with as many people as you can. In the COVID-19 era, this might not be as easy as it was in previous years. But due to the rise of social networks such as LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter, you can move your networking efforts online and reach out to people digitally.
You may also want to reach out to facilities in your community—including local senior centers and libraries—to see whether they’d be interested in having you host a free educational session on Medicare (likely delivered via a platform such as Zoom these days). Seniors who attend these sessions may very well decide to buy insurance from you right then and there after they hear what you have to say.
5. Support your fellow agents.
Insurance sales aren’t always a one-person show. If your goal is selling more Medicare products across your entire business, it is critical to make sure that everyone on your team has the tools they need to succeed. Here are some ways you can do that:
- Schedule regular training sessions and make sure all employees have easy access to comprehensive training resources.
- Make sure agents are licensed to sell in certain states and that their certifications are up to date.
- Use CMS-approved templates for easy and compliant marketing.
- Provide guides and other tool kits that simplify the Medicare sales process.
Ready to increase Medicare sales?
By now, you have a better idea of some ways you can increase Medicare sales in 2020 and beyond. But your work isn’t done quite yet.
Before you pick up the phone, you need to know what you’re going to say. Check out our Phone Prospecting Checklist for Insurance Agents to set yourself up for success and make sure you’re prepared and organized before you make your first call of the upcoming season. Good luck!