A Health Insurance Agent’s Guide to the OEP

The ACA Open Enrollment Period, or OEP, is right around the corner. Once November hits, it will be without a doubt one of the most overwhelming and hectic times for insurance agents. Not only will you be trying to catch up with current clients, who might have changing needs, but you will also have to continue to bring in new clients to help your business grow. All of this might seem like a lot – you might even begin to panic as the OEP gets closer – but this guide will help you fully prepare and remain confident going into this intense time!

Prepare, Prepare, Prepare!

Would you take a test without fully preparing for it? Probably not. And neither should you go into the OEP without preparing, since this time is a major opportunity for insurance agents. Remember, November 1st will be here before you know it! 

Preparing for the OEP now will allow you to maximize your written policies and get ahead of the competition. To do this: 

hand over different forms of communications

  • Make contact with potential clients now
  • Schedule their appointments
  • Make sure that all of your FAQ sheets are up to date

This is also a great time to set goals, such as how many policies you are hoping to sell, how many renewals you’re hoping to get, or how many current clients you are going to help change plans. 

The next step is to determine how you are going to reach these goals, and a good place to start is with your marketing strategy.

Marketing Is a Must

To meet your goals, you’ll need a good marketing strategy, which will help you find customers that match your filters and then guide them towards you. Generally, a good place to start is by heading to social media, and by creating helpful content. Consider providing information that answers the frequently asked questions people are asking during the OEP. Not enough time for marketing and all your other work? Consider hiring someone to do your marketing for you, at least during the OEP.


stopwatch with the word deadline
Aim to call a prospect within 5 minutes of their request!

Although the OEP is going to be a hectic time, and it’s going to be hard to keep track of everyone, following up is crucial to the success of your business. You have to immediately reach out to a customer after receiving a request or interest, since the OEP provides only a very limited time frame. 

While you might normally have a little more leeway, at this time aim to call a prospect within 5 minutes of their request, because waiting too long might just cost you. And if you do reach out to a lead within 5 minutes and don’t get a response, follow up with an email to schedule a day and time to connect with them – and be sure to follow up with your appointment!

Looking For Leads?

The ACA Open Enrollment Period is a busy time for a lot of agents, but if you’re still looking to build your client list, come to Benepath! Working with Benepath means you’ll be able to free up more of your time and increase your sales. We offer you real-time exclusive leads who are warmed up and ready to purchase an insurance plan. You just have to provide us with the days and times you are available so that we can send you live transfer calls during your specific hours. 

In short, we do all the work for you, finding you pre-qualified leads and simply passing them off to you to make the sale. Benepath will provide you with better tools, more guidance, unsurpassed sales training, and techniques from the most successful agents and trainers in the industry, not to mention the best leads available! To get more information, fill out the form below or call 866-368-0377.

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.

Get Ready For The 2020 Health Insurance Tax

Insurers were given a pass in 2019 by Congress regarding their annual health insurance tax. The reason was that the government was concerned about consumers’ out-of-pocket costs. However, if the ACA’s health insurance tax resumes as planned, this ‘free pass’ might be over and insurers will face a $15.5 billion tax bill in 2020. The health insurance tax was created to fund the implementation of the ACA’s marketplace exchanges. For consumers, this means that insurers will raise premiums by more than 2% if the tax is implemented by the IRS.

Health Insurance Tax Over The Years

Oliver Wyman Actuarial Consulting recently analyzed the projected impact of the health insurance tax on health insurer premiums over the next 10 years. They found that premiums are likely to increase by 2.2% in 2020. 

The tax started at $8 billion in 2014, increased to $11.3 billion for 2015-2016, and had a suspension in 2017. The tax was then reinstated at $14.3 billion in 2018, and then given another suspension for the year of 2019.

Who It Applies To

A fully-insured health plan is the more traditional way to structure an employer-sponsored health plan. With a fully-insured health plan: The company pays a premium to the insurance carrier. The health insurance tax applies to all insurers offering fully-insured coverage. This goes for :

  • on-exchange and off-exchange individual markets
  • large and small group markets
  • insured public programs such as Medicare and Medicaid

The Rise In Premiums

Premium increases will vary by state. However, premiums are expected to increase annually anywhere from $154 to $479. A person in the individual market can face a $196 increase. A person in the small group market can expect a $154 increase, while a family of 4 faces a $479 increase. As for families in the large group market, the increase for an individual will be about $158, while a family faces a $458 increase. 

The Outcome Following The Tax

If the tax is implemented and is as high as almost $16 billion, then increased tax burdens on small employers will follow. Fully-insured small employers will face the repercussions, while private and self-insured public employers will not. Employers are not the only ones who will have to pay for the tax increase. State taxes will go up for everyone in order to cover the increased tax on Medicaid. 

More importantly, many people might opt out of insurance due to the increase in premium costs. Healthier individuals opting-out will cause an imbalance in the risk pool, meaning higher premiums for the (less healthy) people who are insured. 

As of now, there is no definitive answer if the tax will be implemented in 2020. Congress is considering bipartisan legislation that would suspend the tax through 2021, but it is not a guarantee. If the health insurance tax is implemented, insurance rates and premiums will be more expensive than it already is. 

Selling Medicare Is Hard Work

Thousands of Americans are about to turn 65 and they are going to need health insurance. Are you ready to sell?

Before jumping into selling Medicare, you should understand some important points. First, you cannot sell insurance policies unless you understand how they work. Medicare Part A and Part B are critical supplement plans for many seniors.

Medicare is and can be a daunting item to explain to new customers. However, if you know health insurance polices inside out, including all the latest changes, you stand a much better chance of having a loyal customer base now and for the future. Knowing Medicare and being able to explain it also enhances your credibility. For new agents, who might still be figuring stuff out, it is best take the time to speak to another agent who has been selling health plans for years and get their take on the policies. The more you know, the easier it gets to sell Medicare.

If you are just starting out it is likely a good idea to make sure you get appointed to sell at least 2 different companies offering Medicare supplement plans and Medicare Advantage. Taking on any more than that to begin with can be overwhelming. Over time and with more experienced garnered by selling Medicare, you can expand your horizons to being appointed to sell for more insurance companies.

Do you know all the benefits and co-pays right off the top of your head? You need to be able to quote them and to also know the applications thoroughly, from start to finish. After all, you are the one potential clients are going to ask about the forms.

Check out the best source for Medicare and other leads by searching for a reputable lead generation company that stands by their product; a company that takes the time to screen and vet all potential clients before sending them to you.

You also want a company where you can get exactly what you want in terms of leads, say for instance, in a certain geographic area, in a defined age group, with children or without a family and so forth. Remember to buy the best leads that you can, because those are the ones that have the highest probability of converting and thus are good value for your agency marketing dollars.

Preaching Insurance to the Choir

Some of your best customers are those that have done business with you for years and know the value of having health insurance for those “what if” moments in life. In other words, they have an emotional attachment to not only having insurance, but to the benefits of the health insurance policy they ultimately bought. Those with an emotional attachment to a product are your best referral sources ever. They use the insurance when needed. It keeps them healthy. They understand the value of having health care coverage. This is a valuable source of referrals for you.

You may have already noticed by now that those with zero emotional attachment to a product may buy it, but not renew it. It means nothing to them despite the knowledge that it could help them stay healthy. If that is not a goal for those individuals, your sales pitches fall on deaf ears. Younger millennials sometimes do not feel they need insurance because they are young and healthy. Yes, “you” know the value of being protected no matter what age a client happens to be – but that idea may fall flat on its face. Try sticking to the choir (your existing clients) when it comes to asking for referrals.

Are You an Expert Insurance Agent/Broker?

Being an expert in selling insurance, understanding all the policies, what they offer and do not offer, how they can help buyers and how to deal with claims against those various policies is one thing. The other must have to sell insurance is the ability to understand your audience, know their needs and wants, and knowing what would work best for them when it comes to health insurance.

Health insurance is very individualized and no one policy fits all. The savvy insurance agent that knows that does well in sales as they work hard to match a policy to the needs of an existing or potential client. That’s what selling insurance is really all about – helping people take care of their health in the best way possible with a policy that suits their needs and budget.

That means being an expert in all aspects of every policy you handle. What that means is you have an intrinsic understanding of what policies fit each one of your customers and you do not try to “make” a policy fit someone. It’s one of the best ways to be a leader in selling insurance – put the customer and their needs first.

How to Sell Health Insurance to 26 Year Olds

When it comes to selling health insurance, there is a niche, often overlooked group that requires a different approach than your average 30-year-old looking to purchase a family plan – the 26 year-olds.  

The reason selling insurance to this age group should be handled differently is because, similar to any specified target customer, the needs and wants someone is their mid-20s has are unique.  They’re purchasing insurance for themselves for the first time, most likely because the lifespan on their parents’ plans has come to an end. 

To help you take on this group, we’ve compiled three key tips to provide agents with some insight on the purchasing behaviors to keep an eye out for when encountering a young adult:


Perhaps one of the primary behaviors of a young adult is a “no-commitment” mentality.  Many of these individuals, if single, are not looking to sign off on anything that is permanent.  Just look at the recent stats from the U.S. Census Bureau – the average age of first marriage for women in 2017 was 27.4 years. For men, it’s slightly older at 29.5 years.  At 26, it would be fair to anticipate that flexibility is appealing. 

Unlike long-term plans, short term health insurance provides fast, flexible insurance with many benefits. These plans can be extended up to 3 years, and you can pick your deductible amount from many options. You are also able to drop coverage without a penalty if you want to change to a long term insurance option. Premiums are lower than ACA health insurance plans, and you get coverage as soon as a day after applying. We’d recommend, in addition to providing information on long-term plans, you emphasize flexible short-plans if a 26-year-old sounds hesitant to commit to a purchase.


Key trait of the 26 year-olds: they’re online.  Shopping, of any essence, is typically done via computer, phone, table, iPod, etc. This generation is used to one-click Amazon Prime purchases.  As the professional agent, it’s your job to make insurance shopping the same. 

Comparison shopping, which any experienced shopper is familiar with, takes up a significant amount of valuable time.  Being the insurance agent, you become the one-stop Amazon Prime Insurance stop. By offering your guidance and comparison of plans – you’re doing the difficult work for them.  Prove your expertise by doing proper research to give them a well-rounded analysis of plans, prices, premiums, and more.  

In this customer scenario, you are, above all, their teammate. Help them to decide on their preferences. Preferences that a first time shopper does not even know they have. If you can help the average young adult find a quality plan that checks off their boxes, you’ve done your job. Remember: you are there to inform and support them in their selection, regardless of what it may be.

The Overall Price of the Plan

If an individual is a 20-something, as mentioned, they are more likely to be single and childless – but that doesn’t mean they will stay that way. Life events are approaching.  Marriage, children, mortgages, retirement plans, etc.  

Short term plans are certainly cost friendly.  However, the downside of waiting to buy a long-term plan is that they might face higher premiums.  Emphasize this to your customer; good deals are attractive to a young professional transitioning into “adult” mode.

Keep in mind that health insurance will not be the only major purchase a 26 year-old be thinking about.  These life events are cost sensitive, so for a mid-twenties individual who may be in the early stages of a career, it is not far off to assume the plan should fit a specific budget.  Be prepared to provide quality plans at a low cost, especially if the customer sounds concerned about a serious purchase such as this.

You’re The Pro

When establishing rapport with a 26 year-old, you must take into consideration the amount of money they are willing to pay, the coverage they are looking for, the premiums offered, and the term length of the plan.  If the individual does not have an opinion on any of these answers, be sure to guide them with explanations.  

While you are doing your best to sell a plan, your primary approach should be to educate the customer.  You are the professional. Create a culture of Q&A between yourself and your client. If you do this successfully, you will establish yourself as an expert in what you do.  Your clients will take notice and refer you to more potential clients, and you will quickly become the go-to for guidance in your network of customers. If you put building trust within your community first – the sales will follow close behind you.

Health Insurance Is A Good Companion For Final Expense Insurance

Back to the burial insurance, or final expense insurance. If you sell this type of a policy alongside health insurance policies, it is a natural segue to also talk about burial needs and how an unexpected death could impact a person’s family financially. While there is no need for a hard sell, discussing health insurance is a natural way to open the door to considering what may be needed in the event of a life-threatening health scare.

But, it is also not something to bring up while discussing various health insurance policies. You have a strategy to follow while selling health insurance. Use the same type of strategy you use to sell health insurance to close other possible deals on different types of insurance. For instance, health insurance, particularly for those 65 and over, is something that is very important and part and parcel of Medicaid and being covered for health issues, is the possibility of being hospitalized, sent for surgery and need recovery time in a care home, or need at-home care to recover.

Part of the consideration of health care coverage is what is needed in the event of a fatal illness or sudden, unexpected death. Discussing Medicare and final expense insurance, while perhaps awkward, is a stroke of brilliance. Humans do have a way of avoiding such discussions, but they definitely are necessary. If you can bridge the difficult gap between good health care coverage and making sure all possible related expenses can be covered, your conversion rate jumps.

Selling Insurance? Know Your Product

Often insurance agencies sell more than one health insurance policy. Agents need to be able to sell different types of polices. Selling insurance, no matter what type of insurance, means agents need to know their product inside and out.

To successfully sell insurance, agents need to know their products inside and out. You need to intimately know that conditions and terms of all the policies. It is critical to be able to explain the pros and cons to clients wanting information on health insurance. It is all about educating the potential buyer to sell them what they want and need.

When dealing with multiple insurance policies, not only is it important to know each policy, it is also critical to know how to answer tough questions. Clients will often have questions and concerns.

What about counter-arguments? Yes, most definitely you need to have those lined up as well, particularly to the most common objections that you usually hear when discussing insurance. Only by understanding the policies in great depth are you able to close sales and grow your agency through conversions.

Are You A Problem Solver? Then Selling Insurance Is For You

You have no doubt heard that old saying: “Don’t bring me problems. Bring me solutions.” This is applicable in selling insurance as well. Customers do not want to hear, “We don’t have a policy that can do what you want,” or “Your family cannot be covered under this policy. You need a more expensive one.”

When people are ready to buy insurance, for example, Medicare/Medigap, they do not want to hear how complicated it is, when the deadlines are, why they cannot have what they want or that they are going to have to do without things. This is a problem for you to solve. The best agent will dig in and find the best deal they can for their client with as many benefits as possible.

Your job is to solve the problems of those applying for health insurance, not create them. Sure, some policies may not fit the person shopping, but there is always something, somewhere that be the ticket for them. While it may not be 100 percent on the money of what they wanted, if you can offer them a solution that is very close to what they envision, it is a win-win.


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