This post is part of a series sponsored by AgentSync.
As our pumpkin spice latte approaches, we can almost smell the advent of a very busy time of year for carriers, agencies, and MGAs/MGUs. Yes, you guessed it, we’re talking about the Medicare open enrollment season – from October 15 to December 7.
If you’re a carrier, agency, or MGA/MGU and trying to deal with the amount of work you need to do before, during, and after the Medicare open season, don’t be afraid. We’re here to walk you through some best practices to ensure the season runs smoothly for you, your producers, and your customers.
Why is open Medicare so important?
The Medicare open season is an opportunity for Medicare beneficiaries to join the Medicare Advantage plan best suited to their needs.
Important to note: At this time, only beneficiaries who are already enrolled in a Medicare plan can switch between or to Medicare Advantage plans. If you have any questions about the intricacies of Medicare enrollment periods, check out Introduction to Medicare Piecewhich touches on the who, what, when and why of Medicare.
Efforts are increasing to raise awareness of the importance of the open enrollment season and the opportunity to switch plans. In 2021, one in eight Medicare beneficiaries — 8.3 million people — chose individual plans during open enrollment, according to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.. Chances are that the number of beneficiaries taking advantage of this registration period will only increase in 2022.
Therefore, it is best to have carriers, agencies, and MGAs/MGUs ready to handle the business.
Best practices for carriers, agencies and MGAs/MGUs
Even if the Medicare open season continues to swing at a participation rate of about 10 percent, there are still millions of older and disabled Americans looking for support when switching between Medicare plans. This is simply not something that carriers, agencies, or MGAs/MGUs can ignore.
When done right, the open enrollment season is an opportunity for these companies to prove they are a well-equipped machine, gain influence with producers, and help Medicare recipients live their best lives. But when it’s done wrong, open enrollment season can be messy, stressful, and costly.
We believe Medicare season should always be done right. So, here we are laying out some of the best practices that can help your company succeed.
1. Plan to open Medicare in advance
To handle the influx in business, carriers, agencies, and MGAs/MGUs generally need to include new producers for the open enrollment season. This may not seem like a big deal, but you shouldn’t, under any circumstances, leave it until the last minute.
Recruiting new producers is always a pain. After all, producers have no shortage of companies to work with. Furthermore, Medicare’s open enrollment season makes hiring more difficult because all companies with a hand in Medicare Advantage products need support during this time. So the competition is high.
But the truth is that these producers will operate in a temporary role. Carriers, agencies, and MGAs/MGUs need to support these producers to complete the open enrollment season but they won’t have enough work to keep them busy all year long. Therefore, they will be set up shortly before Medicare enrollment opens and canceled shortly after.
Recruiting these new producers and managing and eliminating the onboarding process abroad will inevitably result in an additional workload for existing employees. By planning for this influx of new producers, and creating a hiring strategy and system for what on and off entry might look like, companies can establish a framework for a successful open enrollment season.
2. Create a positive experience for producers
Medicare open enrollment is annual. It happens every year. Sure, you may not have enough work to keep producers on board the Medicare open enrollment program active year-round, but you know you’ll need them during your next enrollment period.
By building a positive experience for producers from the first Medicare open enrollment season, carriers, agencies, and MGAs/MGUs can save time and money on hiring efforts by boosting company loyalty and encouraging producers to come back year after year.
Consider this: The carrier needs to include hundreds of producers to manage the Medicare open enrollment season. This carrier did not start planning for open Medicare enrollment early on and failed to build an onboarding and offshore system. As a result, the overall product experience is stressful, time-consuming, and chaotic.
Next year, as producers prepare for the Medicare open enrollment season, there isn’t much incentive for these producers to return to the same carrier. Alternatively, they may choose to work with a carrier competitor. After all, the producer heard from peers that the competitor has a pleasant and time-saving operation on and off the plane.
Keeping producers happy is key to making sure carriers, agencies, and MGAs/MGUs don’t need to start recruiting producers from scratch each enrollment period. So remember, even if these producers are employed only in seasonal capacity, delighting them can lead to annual successes.
3. Use licensing software to save time and prevent regulatory actions
Clearly, the Medicare open season can be a very stressful time for all parties involved. Not surprisingly, then, human error can complicate and cancel enrollments.
But producers on and off the plane come with a full set of regulatory requirements for each country in which the producer sells insurance products. The same is true when it comes to Medicare Advantage products. Therefore, inaccuracies or errors in onboarding and off-site can lead to costly regulatory actions. Not good, if you ask us.
Fortunately, carriers, agencies, and MGAs/MGUs can avoid these errors by using licensing software. Licensing software helps save time and prevent human error in setting up and shutting down the product in several ways:
- Flag vulnerabilities in the product license during the setup process. This allows companies to correct licensing errors before it is time to sell the product.
- Reduce paperwork by digitizing and eliminating enrollments. Trust us, less paper is good for your sanity, the safety of your product, and the survival of the environment. Win, win, win.
- Rather than having to remember to terminate thousands of producers, in some cases, licensing programs allow companies to create a termination date that automates the process of opting out once the date has passed.
- Maintain records and licensing information for audits and market management examinations. This way, employees won’t need to retroactively sort documents to pull in key data when it’s time to test.
On top of preventing regulatory actions, licensing programs have the added advantage of improving the product experience. Producers want the setup and checkout process to be as simple, quick and painless as possible. By saving data for autofill, producers don’t have to re-enter basic information across multiple points. In our experience, repeating information model by model and year after year is one of the things that producers say detracts from their overall experience. As the licensing program simplifies licensing processes and highlights any potential licensing loopholes, it may be the key to creating a positive product experience, driving producer loyalty, and encouraging producers to come back year after year.
Are you ready for open enrollment?
We know prepare for Medicare open season It can feel intimidating. After all, once you’ve finally rolled off last year’s recording season, it’s time to start ramping up for this year. Fortunately, following these key best practices can serve as a stepping stone to successful recording seasons for years to come. If you are a producer, make sure you take the time to read our article best practices to producers as well. AgentSync can help you increase Medicare open enrollment, so Book a show with us.
Wholesale transportation and insurance agencies