Ways to Help Clients Avoid Medicare’s IRMAA Surcharges

If you’re working with Medicare beneficiaries whose income is above a certain level, they will have to pay a surcharge on their Parts B and D premiums, known as the Medicare Income-Related Monthly Adjustment Amount (IRMAA). These surcharges are determined by the Social Security Administration; beneficiaries will receive a predetermination notice in the mail showing how it was calculated. Being hit with an IRMAA can be overwhelming for many clients, especially for those living on a fixed income, but what some beneficiaries are unaware of is that they can avoid these extra charges. One way that you can help your Medicare clients save some money is by understanding how Medicare’s IRMAA affects them, as well as by helping them avoid surcharges.

IRMAA Surchargescalculator with paper behind it on a desk

The income used to determine the IRMAA surcharge is the MAGI, or modified adjusted gross income, plus bond interest, from 2 years ago, meaning beneficiaries’ 2020 income will determine their IRMAA in 2022. So, if your client reports a higher MAGI in 2020, they will face the surcharge once the IRMAA brackets are released.

The Consumer Price index for Urban Consumers (CPI-U)

The good news for your clients is that legislation was passed in 2020 that will allow IRMAA brackets to be indexed to the consumer price index for urban consumers, or CPI-U, which means they will need to have a higher MAGI than in previous years to face the surcharges. The MAGIs for 2021 are $88,000 for individual filers, and $176,000 for joint filers, compared to 2020’s $87,000 for individuals and $174,000 for joint filers.

With all that being said, it’s important to make clear to your clients that they shouldn’t overspend at the beginning of their retirement, because the IRMAA surcharges are calculated based on a 2-year look-back period. So, even if their income drops significantly, they will still face these surcharges based on their income from previous years.

Your Clients Can Avoid IRMAA Surcharges By…

Considering Roth Conversions

If your client has an IRA, point out to them that, with a traditional IRA, there is a required minimum distribution (RMD) that has to be withdrawn at retirement age, but they can convert their IRA into a Roth IRA through a Roth conversion. Doing this will mean they will have to pay more in taxes and IRMAA surcharges for a short period, but will ultimately help them avoid being bumped into a higher IRMAA bracket later on, especially if they expect to report a higher income after withdrawing the RMD from their retirement accounts.

Giving To Charitiesillustration of money ten a hand with money bag and then present

If your client has a risk of being charged higher surcharges after withdrawing their RMD, they can choose to donate some of that money to charity; this donation is then considered taxable income, meaning they will avoid an increase in their MAGI, or being bumped up to a higher IRMAA bracket.

Considering Tax-Free Income

If your clients need extra money for living expenses, there are ways they can get extra income without the IRMAA surcharges: for example, they can opt for a reverse mortgage, or a home equity conversion mortgage. Another way to get tax-free income is by purchasing a life insurance policy with cash value; they can withdraw the cash value tax-free, which will help them avoid the IRMAA surcharges.

Appealing The Assessment

marriage certificate being cut by scissors
You can help your client appeal an assessment if there is a life changing event, such as a divorce, that changes their income.

If your client’s income 2 years ago was higher because they were working and now their income is lower because they have retired, or if there is an error in the IRS data, they can appeal their IRMAA assessment. There are also life-changing events that can make them eligible for an appeal, including:

  • Death of a spouse
  • Marriage
  • Divorce or annulment
  • Work reduction
  • Work stoppage
  • Loss of income from income-producing property
  • Loss or reduction of certain kinds of pension income

As the Medicare AEP opens up, you can help your clients save money by signing them up for a Medicare Supplement Plan, but you can also help them save money in other ways, such as by steering them towards ways to avoid IRMAA surcharges. Your clients will thank you, and will spread the word about how you go above and beyond to help them save as much money as possible.

What To Know When Switching An Existing Medicare Supplement Plan For Your Customers

When it comes to health insurance plans, not everyone is going to end up happy with their choice, and this can include seniors and their Medicare Supplement Plans. A plan might seem perfect for someone initially, but situations, budgets or other variables can change, which can mean that your customer will want to change their plan. It’s more than likely that, at some point, a Medicare beneficiary will request your services to change their Medicare Supplement Plan, so you will need to be prepared – switching Medicare Supplement Plans takes some planning, digging, and explaining.

Reasons Why a Medicare Beneficiary Might Want to Switch Plans

illustration of a blue wallet with money sticking out of it
Sometimes a Medicare beneficiary wants to change their Medicare Supplement Plan so they can save money.

Many seniors are overwhelmed and under informed when they first enroll in Medicare, and in the midst of all the confusion, they decide on a Medicare Supplement Plan that they think will work for them, only to realize later it doesn’t. Some of the reasons that they might want to switch Medicare Supplement Plans include:

  • They do not need all the benefits they are paying for.
  • They need more benefits.
  • They are not happy with their insurance company and want to switch companies.
  • They want a cheaper plan.

When They Can Switch Plans

In many cases, once a Medicare beneficiary purchases a Medicare Supplement Plan, they are locked into that plan. Very rarely will they have the opportunity to easily switch plans, since Medicare Supplement insurance companies have the option to deny or charge more if applicants do not pass underwriting.

However, your customer can switch plans without any problems if:

  • They have guaranteed issue rights.
  • Are in good enough health to pass underwriting.
  • Are within their 7-month Medicare Supplement Initial Enrollment Period.
  • Are still in the 30-day “free look period” of their current plan.

Switching Plans

many boxes on one side of a scale and one box on the other side.

Once you’ve determined whether your customer can easily switch plans, you will need to understand exactly what your client is looking for so you can find the right plan for their needs. After you’ve spoken with them about this, take down all of their information and fill out an application for a new Medicare Supplement Plan, making sure to be clear that the plan will be a replacement for a current plan. During this process, it is important to ensure that your client won’t have a gap in coverage, so when applying, choose a start date for the first day of the following month. After the application is accepted, you can help your customer cancel the current policy effective the first day of the month.

If your client is thinking of switching plans during the “free look period” (30 days) of their current Medicare Supplement Plan, there are a few things to note. First, if your client decides to switch plans, they will need to pay the premiums of both plans for the free look period. Second, do not cancel the first Medicare Supplement Plan until they decide they want to keep the new one!

During your career, you will come across many Medicare beneficiaries who are not happy with their Medicare Supplement Plans, but you can help them switch to a plan that better suits their specific needs, as long as you know the rules surrounding how to do so. It’s as simple as gathering information, signing them up for a new plan, making sure to cancel their previous plan, and following up with your customer. After all, making sure they are satisfied with your service is the best way to grow your business! If you are interested in getting reliable, exclusive Medicare leads, call 866-368-0377.

Selling To Medicare Beneficiaries With Different Budgets

As an insurance agent, you know that some customers are on a tight budget – and seniors can have even less extra money than others to put towards their healthcare. The majority of seniors live on a fixed income, because they are no longer working and have to rely on their retirement savings to last for the rest of their lives. For this reason, they have to budget wisely; this is especially important when it comes to their healthcare expenses, since Medicare does not cover everything, and the cost of it continues to rise every year. That means that if you’re working with Medicare beneficiaries, they will be looking for ways to save as much money as they can! Medicare Supplement Plans will help them, but before you make your sales pitch to a Medicare beneficiary, you first have to understand how to work with customers who have different budgets.

Gather Information

silhouette of two people sitting down at a table talking closely
When trying to find out a client’s budget, bring it up casually in conversation so they feel comfortable.

No two clients will have the same needs or budget, so in order to best help your Medicare client, you will need to know what they can and cannot afford. It can be awkward to discuss their finances and budget, so you need to keep the conversation going in a professional manner: instead of hounding them with questions about it, casually bring it up in conversation and let them know that they can feel comfortable discussing their finances with you. Once you get a better understanding of what their finances look like, you can suggest either a more comprehensive Medicare Supplement Plan, like Plan N or G, or a more basic plan, like Plan A.

Compare Quotes

Everyone loves a deal, but everyone also loves to see side-by-side comparisons and breakdowns of their options. Once you’ve established what kind of budget your customer is working with, you can dive into comparing Medicare Supplement Plans and providing them with quotes. Remember, don’t make the mistake of only providing your customer with the top few plans that you think will work for them; provide them with all of their options and help them figure out which plan will fit into their specific budget.

Explain What Expenses To Expect

hand pointing at a calculator and the other pointing at a graph on a paper.
Go over all expenses of the Medicare Supplement Plan before signing them up.

After you’ve reviewed all plan options with your customer, make sure to go over all the expenses they should expect with their plan before they make their decision. You already know that each Medicare Supplement Plan offers different levels of coverage at different price points, but these plans are new to your customer, so it is important that you take the time to go over what they can expect to pay throughout the year. Remember to explain how much Medicare’s Part A and Part B deductibles, premiums, and coinsurance will cost them, so they can add these expenses to the price of the plan they’ve chosen; this will give them a better idea of how much they should budget for healthcare for the year. This is good for your customer and good for you – a customer who knows exactly what to expect is less likely to be unhappy with their plan.

It’s not always easy to talk to a customer about their finances, but it is important to do so, so that you can help them find a plan that fits their budget. If you don’t take the time to do this, you could end up losing a customer through disenrollment, which would also mean losing the commission for that sale. Instead, through conversations with your client, make it clear that by understanding their expenses for the year, you will both be better equipped to choose a budget-friendly plan. Just remember to go over what they can expect, and go that extra mile to make sure the plan is right for them, so you don’t both lose out in the end.

Products To Sell During Medicare Lock-In Period

When the Medicare Annual Enrollment Period comes around, you know that commissions are about to come your way! You will be helping Medicare clients change plans, add Medicare Supplement Plans, and do everything in between. But what happens when the AEP is over? There are other ways to keep earning a commission after it is over, mainly by selling other products throughout the year (lock-in period).

Medicare Supplement Plans

illustration of a man looking at a long bill
Medicare Supplement Plans can be sold at any time, and they help cover Medicare costs, which is valuable to many.

Medicare Supplement Plans are great because you can sell them all year round. Thousands of people turn 65 every day, and each of them has the opportunity to look into Medicare Supplement Plans after enrolling in Medicare. But that is not the only time they can sign up for a Medicare Supplement Plan: technically a senior can apply for a plan anytime, even during the lock-in period, as long as they are enrolled in Medicare Parts A and B. Some seniors will look into changing Medicare Supplement Plans within 30 days of enrolling in a plan, also known as their “free look period.” Or some will want to change their Medicare Supplement Plans anytime during the year to find a more affordable plan. And the great thing about selling Medicare Supplement Plans? You will make residual commissions on them for years.

Dental, Vision & Hearing Plans

Original Medicare and Medicare Supplement Plans do not offer dental, vision or hearing insurance. These plans are the perfect products to cross-sell to your clients because no underwriting is necessary for them, and they are typically inexpensive. You can help your customers find a plan that offers them the extra coverage they need at a very attractive price.

Long-Term Care Insurance

Many Medicare beneficiaries are under the impression that long-term care, such as stays in nursing homes or assisted living facilities, is covered by Original Medicare. Unfortunately, this is not the case, so when selling Medicare products, it is important to note to your clients that long-term care is generally not covered. While Medicare does cover certain things that are deemed medically necessary by a doctor, for the most part, it will not cover costs for people who need custodial care (including non-medical needs such as eating and bathing). This is a great opportunity to suggest long-term care insurance, and if they will not qualify for it, suggest a short-term care insurance plan instead.

Hospital Indemnity Insurancewoman sitting in a hospital bed with an IV in her arm

Hospital indemnity insurance is a supplemental insurance plan that will help pay for hospital admission costs that are not covered by other insurance. Some of these plans offer cash payments to help pay for any extra expenses accrued during hospital stays, as well as deductibles, observation stays, surgeries, medications and more. These plans are beneficial for people with Medicare Advantage Plans, which can sometimes leave beneficiaries with large bills from hospital stays.

Working with Medicare leads is a great way to make an income, but you do not have to solely rely on the Medicare Annual Enrollment Period to thrive. Some insurance agents bank on getting most of their commissions during the Medicare Annual Enrollment Period, but that is only 54 days out of the year. There are so many different ways you can continue to earn commissions during the lock-in period. Seniors need coverage for dental, vision and hearing, help with some hospital costs, and coverage for long-term care if they have a chronic condition that worsens, all which Original Medicare does not cover. If you consider selling (or cross-selling) the insurance plans mentioned, then you can continue to help seniors and grow your business outside of the Medicare AEP!

How to Work with Medicare Leads With Poor Health

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the size of the 65-and-older population has grown by over a third in the past decade. That means there is a large market out there of older adults enrolling in Medicare and looking for a Medicare Supplement Plan. Medicare Supplement Plans are great because they are the easiest Medicare product to sell and have a high-profit potential because of the renewal commission you get every year. But you have to know how best to sell these plans: some of the leads that you’re working with might be in poor health and wondering how best to keep their medical expenses under control. So how do you sell to a Medicare client who is in poor health?

Explain the Best Option

woman in a suit speaking with a man in a suit
Explain to your lead that a Medicare Supplement Plan is a great option for additional coverage.

Some of the seniors you work worth might have health conditions that could be an issue when it comes to signing them up for a Medicare Supplement Plan. The CDC reports that 60% of older adults have one chronic condition, while the other 40% have two or more. Of course, your leads will want the cheapest option, but that might not be the best choice for them if they have health conditions that require medical attention and ongoing treatments. Explain the situation to them, and point out that a more comprehensive Medicare Supplement Plan will be better for them because it will offer more coverage, even if it does cost a little extra.

It is also very important to explain to your clients how signing up for a Medicare Supplement Plan works. Make it clear to them that they will not face any underwriting if they sign up during their Initial Enrollment Period, but that this is not the case if they switch plans. Make sure they are aware of this so that they sign up for the right Medicare Supplement Plan from the start, and will not be denied or be forced to pay a higher rate later.

Medicare Supplement Vs Medicare Advantage

Because Original Medicare does not cover all expenses, and beneficiaries still have to pay coinsurance, copays and more, they will be looking for extra coverage. They have two options: Medicare Supplement Plans and Medicare Advantage Plans. Both can be great options – it all depends on their needs and budget – but Medicare Supplement Plans are generally better for those in poor health.

With Original Medicare and a Medicare Supplement Plan, your clients can better budget their out-of-pocket expenses. Not only that, but they will have access to any Medicare provider across the country that accepts Medicare assignment. Medicare Advantage Plans are more restrictive with their networks, so might not be the ideal choice for Medicare beneficiaries who need to see multiple doctors and specialists.

Finding Customers the Most Affordable Plan With the Most Coverageillustration of a man with a computer screen behind him with logistics

Once you have spoken to your client and are aware of their conditions and familiar with their budget, you can properly search through carriers for an affordable plan. Your client wants the best, so make sure to provide them with that by finding a plan with a carrier that has a positive record and financial history.

Medicare Supplement Plan insurance leads are a guaranteed commission for at least 6-7 years. If you get a lead with no health issues, great! But more often than not, this will not be the case. Don’t worry, you can still get them a great plan, especially if they have guaranteed issue. You just have to do a little comparing to find them the Medicare Supplement Plan that will best fit their needs while saving them as much as possible on their medical bills. If you are looking for exclusive leads that are ready to buy, Benepath will provide them to you! To get more information, call 866-368-0377.

Do’s and Don’ts Of Medicare Compliance

Before you can begin selling Medicare, you must first get your license to sell Medicare products, followed by certifications from carriers to sell Medicare Supplement Plans. But after all that, there is still one more thing to be aware of before you’re ready to sell. You need to know how to remain compliant with all the rules surrounding Medicare sales. In order to show your commitment to honesty and integrity, as well as to fulfill your legal duty and contractual obligations to sell Medicare, you have to be compliant with the following rules in all of your interactions with customers. Here are some simple do’s and don’ts to help you stay in compliance.

Medicare Compliance For Selling

When Selling Medicare:

DO:

caucasian man with a white button up sitting down filling out a form
Before contacting a lead, make sure to fill out a Scope of Appointment.
  • Make sure that you have Permission To Contact the prospect. Agents are not allowed to make unsolicited phone calls or send emails to prospects without having an opt-out option. In order to obtain permission to contact, you must use a lead provider like Benepath, who will have prospects/leads sign a form that says they agree to be contacted by an agent.
  • Complete a Scope Of Appointment form before each face-to-face appointment and/or one-on-one phone conversation. These forms outline exactly what you’ll be talking about with your client during a meeting. Per CMS, you must keep these forms on file for at least 10 years, even if your conversation did not end in a sale.
  • Report any suspected violations to the Medicare Compliance Hotline toll-free at 1-877-211-2290.

DON’T:

  • Engage in door-to-door marketing or sales
  • Use high pressure sales tactics
  • Engage in outbound telemarketing or email campaigns
  • Discuss with prospects any products that are not specified in their Scope of Appointment form
  • Engage in any discriminatory activities, such as conditional enrollment based on a prospect’s mental illness, physical illness, or disability

Medicare Compliance For Marketing

CMS also has regulations in place for marketing, educational events and sales event presentations.

DO:

illustration of a man in a suit talking to a group of people sitting down.
When marketing, you can distribute educational materials at an event that are not plan-specific as well as your business cards.
  • Wait until October 1 to begin marketing next year’s plans to potential customers
  • Distribute educational materials that are free of plan-specific information
  • Give out your business card and contact info
  • Collect Scope of Appointment forms
  • Hold your event in a public venue

DON’T:

  • Attempt to mislead your clients, willingly or unwillingly
  • Use the word free to describe $0 premiums
  • Serve meals at sales events
  • Pressure attendees at events to complete a sign in, it must be optional
  • Distribute plan-specific materials at an educational event (only do this at sales events)
  • Discuss any carrier-specific plans or benefits at educational events (only do this at sales events)
  • Cross-sell or promote health-related products at events

It is important that you follow these rules for Medicare compliance set by CMS, or you risk violations, and you may lose your ability to sell Medicare if you are reported. If you are looking for leads that have given permission to contact, Benepath will provide these leads exclusively to you. We give you exclusive real-time leads when you want them. To find out more information, call 866-368-0377.

6 Things You Need To Know About Selling Medicare Supplement Plans

Did you know that more than 10,000 people in the United States turn 65 every day? For insurance agents, that can mean a lot of sales if you get into selling Medicare Supplement Plans. In order to create long-term sustainability for your business, you will need a residual income, and there is no better way to ensure this than by selling Medicare Supplement Plans. If you work hard enough, you could even see a six-figure residual income in as little as three to four years. In order to sell Medicare Supplement Plans, there are 6 things that you absolutely have to know.

illustration of an ambulance
Medicare covers ambulance services, doctor visits, and more.

1. How Medicare Works

In order to completely advocate for a customer, you have to be knowledgeable about the product you are selling. Medicare is divided into 2 parts: Part A (hospital insurance) and Part B (medical insurance). Part B covers essential medical expenses including:

  • Ambulance services
  • Doctor visits
  • Lab tests
  • Cancer screening
  • Diabetes screening
  • Rehabilitation
  • Durable medical equipment

Parts A and B cover 80% of costs after deductibles and coinsurance, and the other 20% is paid by the beneficiary out-of-pocket. However, if they purchase a Medicare Supplement Plan, it will cover that 20%.

Beneficiaries are automatically enrolled in Part A, but they need to sign up for Part B during their Initial Enrollment Period, which includes the 3 months before the month they turn 65, the month they turn 65, and the three months after they turn 65. If they do not sign up for Medicare Part B during this period, they will have to pay a late enrollment penalty of 10% for every year they delayed enrollment. The only way they can avoid this penalty is if they are still insured through an employer’s health insurance plan.

2. Medicare Supplement Open Enrollment

The Initial Enrollment Period mentioned above is also the best time for someone to purchase a Medicare Supplement Plan. Technically, a customer can sign up for a Medicare Supplement Plan whenever they want, but if they do not sign up during their Initial Enrollment, then they will face medical underwriting. They can then end up being denied or charged more due to pre-existing conditions.

3. What Medicare Supplement Plans Cover

bag full of dark red blood laying on a table with tubes
Medicare Supplement Plans help cover some things Medicare does not cover, such as blood transfusions.

Medicare Supplement Plans cover the 20% gap that Original Medicare does not pay for. What’s unique about these plans is that they cover health and wellness benefits that Medicare doesn’t cover at all. This includes:

  • Medicare Part A deductible
  • Part B excess charges
  • Coinsurance and hospital costs for up to one year after Medicare benefits are used up
  • Blood transfusions for up to three pints of blood
  • Hospice care coinsurance or copayment
  • Skilled nursing facility care coinsurance
  • Medical costs incurred while traveling outside of the U.S.

In addition, Medicare Supplement Plans K and L have annual out-of-pocket limits. Once you reach the plan’s limit, Plans K and L cover 100% of covered out-of-pocket expenses for the rest of the year.

4. What Medicare Supplement Plans Do NOT Cover

older asian man looking at a pill bottle in his hand with other bottles sitting on the table in front of him
Unfortunately, there are some things Medicare does not cover, such as prescription drugs.

Although Medicare Supplement Plans cover some services that Medicare does not, that does not mean that these plans cover everything. Medicare Supplement Plans do not cover:

  • Dental care
  • Eye exams
  • Eyeglasses
  • Hearing aids
  • Prescription drugs
  • Long-term care

5. When Medicare Supplement Plans Are Accepted

If a doctor accepts Medicare and Medicare assignment, then they will accept Medicare Supplement Plans as well. They can be used for treatment by any doctor, whether in-network or out-of-network. This makes these plans a great option for people who travel.

6. The Difference Between Plans & How to Switch Plans

There are 10 different Medicare Supplement Plans; the difference between all of them is the coverage that they offer and their price points. A letter identifies each Medicare Supplement Plan: A, B, C, D, F, G, K, L, M, N. Not all states offer all Medicare Supplement Plans, so you’ll have to know what plans are available for customers in your state.

chart of the different medicare supplement plans coverage

***Plans C, Medigap Plan F, and high-deductible Plan F are no longer available to seniors who became eligible for Medicare benefits on or after Jan. 1, 2020.

If your customer already has a Medicare Supplement Plan and wants to switch to a different plan, the only way that they can get the best price is if they pass the set of health questions the insurance company provides. If the customer is within their 6-month Medicare Open Enrollment, or if they have had their current Medicare Supplement Plan for less than 6 months, then they can bypass the underwriting process. If they are not switching within this time frame, then the company can charge them more or deny coverage due to pre-existing conditions.

5 Mistakes Medicare Agents Make

A good agent knows that they can only succeed with the help of their customers. Customers look to agents for help finding a plan that meets their needs without breaking the bank, and that is what you aim to do. But your work doesn’t stop there: you need to be constantly learning and educating, as well as connecting with your clients. Here are 5 costly mistakes to avoid, along with tips to keep you at the top of your game.

picture of caucasian hands on a laptop keyboard with "never stop learning" on the screen
It is important to never stop learning because Medicare is always evolving, and you need to be able to provide accurate information to your customers.

1. You Stop Learning/Training

When you’re an agent, there is no such thing as knowing too much about a product, and that includes Medicare. Medicare is always evolving, and you need to be able to provide accurate information to your customers. Plans can change, or even disappear, while new ones emerge. For example, Plan F, High-Deductible Plan F, and Plan C all disappeared this year, while High-Deductible Plan G was introduced to replace them. If you do not keep on top of information like this, then you won’t be able to properly sell your product. Work towards becoming an expert in your field by constantly learning with online courses and training webinars.

Even when you do become an expert in this field, you still need to keep up with company notices. If there are any changes such as rate increases, then you need to notify your customers on how they will be impacted.

2. Failing To Educate Your Customers

Your job is to help customers completely understand their insurance plan. The whole process of choosing and signing up for a plan can be confusing, so explain everything as simply as you can. Go over what is covered, what is not, and how Medicare Supplement Plans work with Original Medicare. Don’t assume they know as much about everything as you do! The more you educate them on how the system works, the more likely they will be to spot an issue on a bill or handle a problem on their own. Educated customers are happy customers – ones who will continue to use your services as well as refer you to others.

3. Not Following The Rules

caucasian man writing "know the rules" on a piece of paper pinned against the wall.

If you do not follow the rules that the CMS has set for agents, then you could lose your license to sell Medicare Supplement Plans. The CMS is very serious about monitoring agents and will monitor agents to make sure that they are being helpful to Medicare customers and not taking advantage of anyone. Breaking their rules could even mean facing jail time.

4. Not Knowing Guidelines

CMS is strict about agents complying with rules and regulations, and so are the carriers you work with. Carriers have additional guidelines that you have to follow, and if you fail to comply, then you can lose your business with them. Make sure you stay on top of the guidelines of all the carriers you work with.

green price tag with money symbol on it.
If you focus too much on price, and not your customers’ needs, you could end up losing sales.

5. You Focus Too Much On Price

If you focus too much on price, and not your customers’ needs, you could end up losing sales. Sell based on value, not price. Teach your customers the value of a Medicare Supplement Plan, and ask questions about what they are looking for. Ask questions and answer any of theirs that may come up. And always check on your customers to make sure they are happy with their plan, or if they might be interested in finding a different Supplement Plan.

2020 Medicare Changes You Need To Know About

New Medicare changes that will impact both current and future beneficiaries have now gone into effect. Keep your clients informed and help them make the best choices by staying up-to-date on these changes.

Increased Medicare Deductibles & Premiums

caucasian hand with a marker drawing an upwards arrow
Medicare premiums and deductible rates have gone up.

The first change to note is an increase in Medicare Part B premiums and deductibles. The new rates are:

  • Medicare Part A Hospital Deductible for the first 60 days of inpatient hospital care in a benefit period has gone up $44 from 2019 to $1,408.
  • Medicare Part A Deductible for a Skilled Nursing Facility for days 21-100 has gone up $5.50 per day since last year. The cost is now $176 per day.
  • Medicare Part B Deductible has gone up $13 from 2019 to $198.
  • Medicare Part B Premiums have gone up $9.10 from 2019. Premiums are now $144.60 a month.
  • Coinsurance for the 61st-90th day of hospitalization in a benefit period has gone up $9 per day from 2019, now costing $352 per day. For lifetime reserve days, coinsurance has gone up $22 per day from 2019, now costing $704 per day.

New IRMAA Bracket

In 2019, the income threshold for Medicare’s IRMAA (income-related monthly adjustment amount) was $85,000 for an individual and $170,000 for a couple filing taxes jointly. The threshold in 2020 has risen to $87,000 for individuals and $174,000 for couples.

No More First-Dollar Coverage Plans

One big change for Medicare this year is the disappearance of first-dollar coverage plans. Medicare Supplement Plans C, F and High-Deductible Plan F, which are considered first-dollar and all have zero out-of-pocket costs, will no longer be offered to new Medicare beneficiaries. Seniors who were on Plans C and F prior to 2020 will be allowed to stay on their plans.

Congress is hoping to save money by getting rid of these plans. They feel that Medicare beneficiaries may overuse healthcare services if they aren’t paying any out-of-pocket costs, so now all plans will be required to have a deductible. The hope is that beneficiaries will think twice about unnecessary doctor visits, which will help cut down on Medicare spending.

One alternative to these plans is Plan N, which is a cost-sharing plan. Beneficiaries will have a copay of up to $20 for doctor visits and $50 for emergency room care. Urgent care visits have no copays. Plan G is also a good option because it is most similar to Plan F. It offers most of the benefits of Plan F but with lower premiums.

New High Deductible Plan G Is Herenew pwroduct sign in red with yellow outline of the sun behind it

High-deductible Plan G is the 2020 replacement for the disappearing High-Deductible Plan F. High-Deductible Plan G’s deductible is $2,340 for the year (the same deductible as High Deductible Plan F), and any beneficiary can sign up for it whether or not they were “Medicare -eligible” before 2020.

The main difference between High Deductible Plan F and High Deductible Plan G will be the coverage options. Currently, HD Plan F covers the Part B deductible, whereas HD Plan G doesn’t. The benefits a beneficiary will receive with this new plan are:

  • Part B excess charges
  • Foreign travel emergency (up to plan limits)
  • Skilled nursing facility care coinsurance
  • Part A hospice care coinsurance or copayment
  • The first 3 pints of blood received
  • Part B coinsurance or copayment
  • Part A coinsurance and hospital costs (up to an additional 365 days after Medicare benefits are used)
  • Durable Medical Equipment (DME)

Selling to seniors via video conferencing

The unaddressed truth behind Covid-19 is that until we get a vaccine, those of us who have an increased risk of serious health problems are going to need to remain socially distant even after the spike subsides. While a therapy for the virus could be found as early as June, a vaccine is much further away, with most experts looking at the end of 2020.

Adjusting to the times

For a variety of reasons, many of you prefer to sell face to face, and right now you can’t, for the safety of yourself and your clients.

You are left with one of three choices:

  • Stop selling
  • Sell over the phone
  • Sell over video

Why Video Conferencing

Seniors are not as tech-illiterate as many people think. In a study done by Amwell Health Solutions, data showed that 45% of American seniors have participated in video calls using FaceTime, Skype, and/or Google Hangout. Some seniors are even catching up to the new Zoom movement, using it to talk to their family and friends.

73% of seniors claim that faster health related services, such as insurance consultation, are the driving reason for their willingness to use video conferencing. Seniors have the will to participate, you just have to add this to your toolkit.

While calling could get the job done, you are missing an important layer – the visual cues. With phone calls we miss 50% of the conversation because you can’t see how the person you are talking to is responding. Video conferencing eliminates that limitation.

How do you do it?

So, how do you get seniors on the screen, not just on the phone? The first secret is that you have to make it easy. Best practice is to just have them click on a link you emailed them. You’ll probably need to include instructions on how to find the link, but the more simple you make the process, the more success you will have.

Ask the senior if they have used to using Hangouts, FaceTime or Skype. These popular systems are the most common, and you should adapt to their preferences. By adapting to their preference, the success rate of your calls will be significantly higher. While this may involve more flexibility on your end, it will undoubtedly benefit you in the long run.

The question “why you are taking meetings this way?” will come up, and be honest with them. Tell them it is to keep them safe in today’s environment. This expresses that you care about them as a person, not just a client, helping your overall rapport.

In conclusion

By incorporating live video into your sales process you’ll be able to:

  • See your customer’s visual cues
  • Share and go over your quality presentation materials
  • Build a deeper relationship with your customer
  • Make more sales!

And if you need help matching with Medicare insurance prospects, don’t hesitate to give us a call at 866-368-0377.

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