IRVING, Texas–(BUSINESS WIRE)–
Starting this month Texas more than 3 million Medicare-eligible individuals will be making their annual healthcare selections and determining whether or not their current coverage is working for them. Their options include traditional Medicare (with or without a supplemental plan); remaining on their existing Medicare Advantage plan; or switching to another plan whose benefits, provider network and costs better match their needs.
Many seniors will be turning to health insurance brokers to help with this important decision, both during the annual enrollment period beginning this month as well as throughout the year for the more than 10,000 Americans who turn 65 every day. For these reasons Word & Brown has provided brokers five tips to help them expand their Medicare business portfolio, whether or not they have ever sold Medicare before. Word & Brown has over 30 years of expertise in delivering health benefit solutions to Americans through licensed brokers and is the nations leading developer and administrator of consumer-choice exchange models.
Medicare Advantage plans continue to grow in popularity, and today a record 13 million Americans are enrolled in such plans, said Gregg Ratkovic, senior vice president of Word & Browns Individual Division. With Texas senior population ready to make their decisions for 2013, now is the right time for the states health insurance brokers to make sure that they are part of this expanding marketplace opportunity.
According to Ratkovic, Texas brokers will be best positioned to thrive in the Medicare marketplace by doing the following:
- Recognize that what seniors need most is access to unbiased and understandable information. Brokers need to have at their disposal a dynamic search engine that allows them and their senior clients to view all of their options side by side. The nations premier such site is Joppel.com, which allows seniors to go through a simple needs assessment and narrow down hundreds of plans through criteria that is specific to them such as what medications are covered, cost of co-payment and provider network. This online resource is complemented by live, telephonic customer support that is helpful to both seniors and brokers.
- Pay particular attention to baby boomers aging into this market. They represent the first generation that may have experienced managed care as a way of life, and they may also have helped their parents navigate the Medicare maze. These new seniors will be likely relying on their laptops, smartphones and tablets to find the information they need. They will be doing their own research, comparing prices, and chatting with friends. Smart brokers are finding ways to interject themselves into this conversation through a presence on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.
- Dont forget the tried-and-true because for older seniors the traditional means of building business still applies kitchen table conversations, local seminars, direct mail and personal referral. These seniors feel a sense of confidence, security and trust in sitting down with a broker who has their best interest at heart. This is especially true of those seniors who have a history of working with brokers in their health plan selection when they were part of the commercial market.
- Remember that while Medicares open enrollment period runs from October 15 to December 7, dual-eligible members (Medicaid and Medicare) can make their selection all year long. In addition, people aging into the Medicare market throughout the year have a seven-month window to make their initial coverage selection beginning three months prior to their 65th birthday and ending three months after. Savvy brokers carefully monitor their existing book of business to know precisely when a client is turning 65 and are ready with information regarding their Medicare options.
- Many seniors may be worried about how healthcare reform will affect them. Under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act seniors will benefit from reductions in cost sharing for prescription drugs and for preventive services. There will however be reductions in current benefits some seniors now gain from Medicare Advantage plans and increases in premiums for high-income people. Brokers who take the time to understand the ramifications of this law and can explain it simply and clearly to their senior clients will be positioned as the go-to source for all information health insurance related.
Seniors consume healthcare resources with greater frequency than their younger counterparts; and, as a result, the decision of which insurance to purchase is of heightened importance to them, said Ratkovic. At the end of the day, it is the broker, more than anyone else, who can provide these seniors information and recommendations needed to make well-informed decisions. Those brokers who are prepared to do that will end up winners in the end.
For nearly 30 years, the Word & Brown General Agency has helped brokers strengthen and maintain their existing client relationships and prospect for new ones. For further information on how Word & Brown helps brokers grow their Medicare, individual and family business, go to www.wordandbrown.com.
The Word & Brown General Agency is part of the Word & Brown Companies, which provides services through more than 50,000 brokers to nearly 60,000 employers with more than 6 million eligible employees. The Word & Brown Companies also includes: CHOICE Administrators, the nations leader in developing and administrating employee-choice health benefit programs; CONEXIS, providing benefits solutions to clients nationwide, with expertise in COBRA and HIPAA administrative services, direct bill services, and flexible benefits administration, including flexible spending accounts (FSA) and Section 132 commuter benefits; Quotit Corporation the leading Internet application service provider for the health insurance/employee benefits industry; and HealthCompare, which works with brokers and carriers to help individuals and families easily research, compare, buy and enroll in the right health insurance plan at the right price. For more information, visit www.wordandbrown.com.
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