Sunday, January 29

Medicare Open Enrollment Season: Best Practices for Producers


This post is part of a series sponsored by AgentSync.

Fall is almost here: in the north, you may have changing leaves while in the south, you may get a slight respite from the heat. No matter your geography, one season happens everywhere: the Medicare open enrollment season.

If you’re a producer and aren’t already excited about Medicare open enrollment, we’ll give you some reasons why you need to — along with some tips on making the season successful for you and your clients.

Quick summary: What is the Medicare open season?

Fall open enrollment is an opportunity for Medicare beneficiaries to switch Medicare coverage. At the time of open enrollment, those with Medicare can join a new Medicare Advantage plan or stand-alone (Part D) prescription drug plan and/or switch between the original Medicare plan with or without a Part D and Medicare Advantage plan.

If you’re not sure about the difference between Medicare plans, see Introduction to Medicare Piecewhich lays the foundation for medical care.

Ultimately, the Medicare open enrollment season is all about enrolling in Medicare Advantage and Medicare Part D plans, which — unlike original Medicare — are sold by private insurance companies. As a result, there are a few different plans that a Medicare beneficiary can enroll in, and open enrollment is their chance to switch to the plan that best suits their needs.

Learn how AgentSync can help

Why do producers need to care about Medicare open enrollment?

In 2021, 42 percent of all Medicare beneficiaries—26 million of a total of 62.7 million Medicare beneficiaries—enrolled in Medicare Advantage plans.. Research shows that interest in Medicare Advantage plans is increasing; The Congressional Budget Office projects that the percentage of Medicare beneficiaries enrolled in Medicare Advantage plans will increase to about 51 percent by 2030. Furthermore, the plan’s coverage and beneficiary needs could change by the year.

The annual open enrollment period in the fall—October 15 through December 7—is an opportunity for these beneficiaries to switch to a plan that meets their specific medical needs. Miss it and they could face hefty fines.

But wading through the very dark waters of enrolling in Medicare is enough to turn off any beneficiary. research plans, understand changes and browse federal websites; It is no wonder that beneficiaries avoid making changes in their plans even if they need them most.

This is where the producers come in. For recipients, producers have the potential to be fictitious godfathers for insurance. Good producers know the Medicare plan scene, listen to beneficiaries’ needs, and *poof* find the insurance plan of a beneficiary’s dreams.

Fantastic ending for everyone.

But this does not happen with magic.

Best Practices for Producers During Open Enrollment for Medicare

There are a few things producers need to keep in mind before, during and after the open enrollment season to protect beneficiaries and ensure enrollment runs smoothly.

1. Don’t wait until Medicare season to start talking about Medicare

Fall recording season may seem a long way off, but there are plenty of things producers should—and should—do in advance to avoid any potential hitches.

Producers must be prepared to sell with carriers before open enrollment begins. So, even if you think you’re ready, it’s important to deal with a few prerequisites while still saving time before you start enrolling in Medicare.

2. Before selling Medicare products, producers must first be contracted to sell Medicare Advantage and Medicare Part D products to the carrier.

If you’re not 100 percent sure if you’ve been contracted to sell carrier products, check! Even if you’re sure you’re under contract, it wouldn’t hurt to check again. There is nothing worse than thinking that you contracted correctly only to find out at the beginning of open enrollment that you are not, and therefore cannot support beneficiaries or sell Medicare products.

3. Once contracted, producers must ensure that they complete the necessary certifications and training to sell these Medicare products. This includes Medicare fraud, waste, and abuse training and carrier product training.

Again, if you’re ever not sure whether you’ve completed your certification and training requirements, check with the carriers you contract with. Don’t wait until it’s time to start selling to find out that you don’t meet the requirements to participate in the open enrollment season.

Making sure you are properly licensed to sell Medicare products may seem like a bureaucratic mark, but remember that these requirements are there to protect consumers and help producers meet the needs of their beneficiaries. A very good thing, if you ask us.

4. Polish your knowledge to Medicare

While this is covered – in part – by the carrier’s product training mentioned above, it’s worth repeating and involves much more than one training.

Knowing all about the different Medicare plans will help you understand which plans are most beneficial for your customers. Keep an eye out for special perks like those that come with member discounts or savings and those that come with food cards (designed for people who qualify for Medicare and Medicaid). Beneficiaries you work with will appreciate your ability to match them to a seemingly tailored policy and may return in later years when their medical needs change or when there are adjustments to their policy coverage.

The carriers you work with likely have educational materials and resources in the form of webinars or print materials. Some will be a good internal resource to help you become more aware of the Medicare landscape, and others may be great external resources that you can learn about and then share with the beneficiaries you work with. And remember that understanding the material before you share it with clients will help you help them.

5. Help customers understand the importance of open registration

Understanding which plans offer the best coverage and switching between private Medicare plans can save beneficiaries money and headaches. However, historically, Less than 10 percent of Medicare beneficiaries switch between plans during the open enrollment season.

A total of 3,550 Medicare Advantage plans are available nationwide, which tends to make reviewing and comparing coverage options confusing for beneficiaries. In addition, the plethora of different enrollment periods can leave beneficiaries with a puzzlement: Is this a good time to switch Medicare plans?

There is a huge opportunity here.

By helping customers stay on top of how and when to switch coverage, producers can tap into a pool of potential new customers. Remember that 90 percent of Medicare beneficiaries do not take advantage of the open enrollment season. Producers can open a discussion about the open enrollment season by creating a positive experience for one patron who transfers that experience to another, another, and another. Just like this, producers can pave the way for a healthy referral cycle.

6. Keep customers informed of privacy risks

Scammers and scammers know this and use the open enrollment season as an opportunity to take advantage of vulnerable seniors. Producers should stress the importance of working with a licensed agent and warn their beneficiaries Possible tricks They may encounter in the process.

Here are a few key things recipients should remember during the open enrollment season. Feel free to share these with customers to help them better understand how they are being targeted by bad actors.

  • Beware of unwanted calls and requesting sounds. There are strict rules about how and when a producer can contact patrons, and unannounced attendance at someone’s home is almost certainly not permitted.
  • Always be careful about personal or financial information. This is likely what the scammer is after and can have serious consequences for beneficiaries when they are in the wrong hands. If in any doubt, call 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227) or call Federal Trade Commission.
  • The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) is issuing new Medicare cards to help address identity fraud. Recently, however, scammers have jumped at the change by creating confusion about the new cards. Remember: Beneficiaries do not need to do anything to activate their new cards nor should they provide information or pay a fee to anyone claiming to activate their Medicare cards.

Hip, hip and hoora for producers

Producers are critical to a successful Medicare open enrollment season. Beneficiaries need to support navigating policy selections, registration papers, and avoiding scammers. We can only imagine what Medicare enrollment would be like without the wise advice of seasoned producers.

So, although it may seem a long way off, we recommend starting the season early. It’s always a good idea to start thinking about how you can stay on top of the Medicare landscape and proactively address any setbacks that threaten a productive recording season. Our article on best practices for Agencies, Carriers and MGAs/MGUs Worth reading too. Find out how AgentSync can help you get more producers on board ahead of the open enrollment season.


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