In this interview, I speak with long-time Medicare Advantage agent and trainer Luis Moreno. He will discuss the new program he’s rolling out to help agents around the nation write more Medicare Advantage business.
If you’re a new or experienced agent exploring different types of insurance products to sell, this article will do a fantastic job of explaining the Medicare Advantage sales opportunity, and how it differs from selling Medicare Supplements or selling final expense.
In this in-depth interview on Medicare Advantage sales, we will answer many questions. Feel free to click on the links below to be taken to answer you’re looking for:
- What is Medicare Advantage?
- Why should you start selling Medicare Advantage?
- Is Medicare Advantage a tough sell?
- What is required to sell?
- Carrier selection strategy?
- What are the long term advantages of selling Medicare Advantage?
- Is it a first year commission or renewal driven business?
- How long would it take to write 500 sales?
- What service work is required?
- How do you market Medicare Advantage?
- Finding leads on a tight budget
- How to meet compliance guidelines
- Can you cross sell?
- What to expect from presentation to application process
- When Can You Sell Medicare Advantage?
- What’s it like working with a mentor like Luis?
- What technology do you need to sell Medicare Advantage?
- What to expect on your first presentation
- What should you look for in an agency?
- Warning signs of a bad agency
- Are agents vested?
- What is the commission like?
- Getting started
- Selling Medicare Advantage in addition to final expense
- When is the best time to get credentials to sell Medicare Advantage?
- Should you sell Medicare Advantage or Supplements (or both)?
- Next steps
Before we jump into the interview transcript, let me tell you a little bit about Luis.
He’s been an insurance agent in Texas since 2011. He’s worked with Mutual of Omaha as well as Farmer’s Insurance.
As a specialist he worked his way into the healthcare business with a focus on Medicare insurance.
He’s ex-military and manages a team of agents who he coaches on selling Medicare. Personally he’s written over 900 Medicare Advantage plans.
DD: I’d like to start with the basics, Luis. I’m sure there are a lot of people who have heard about Medicare, maybe they’re brand new agents or somewhat experienced in the business of selling insurance. Could you give us just a basic overview of what Medicare Advantage is?
LM: When somebody has Medicare they’re normally 65 and over. You do have a segment of the population under 65 that get Medicare who are usually disabled.
Once someone is on Medicare they have two options – Medicare Advantage or Medicare Supplement. There’s not a good or a bad option, there is simply two options. We’re going to focus today on Medicare Advantage.
Medicare Advantage is a plan that helps fill the gaps that naturally occur with a Medicare plan. All the major carriers are a part of it. You got the Uniteds, the Blue Crosses, the Aetnas, the Humanas – they all offer a product, but simply put Medicare Advantage fills in the gaps that Medicare doesn’t cover.
DD: So explain to agents out there who are interested in Medicare what the opportunity is to sell a Medicare Advantage plan to clients? Why would an agent want to consider operating in this particular niche?
LM: Right now the latest statistics show that there are 10,000 seniors a day turning 65. Most of these seniors are going to get their coverage outside of a retirement plan.
Now you’ll have your military that’s going to get TRICARE, you’ll have some seniors that work for a company and they’re going to have the retirement benefits with the city or with a teacher retirement system, but outside of that you’ll have seniors that are enrolling in Medicare and need to find a plan. That’s 10,000 seniors a day that need help.
The problem is that there are so many plans that they can enroll in that a lot of times when I’ve gone to a senior’s house and look at the amount of mail they receive advertising plans it’s about a foot of mail from every carrier out there, not to mention they are also being called and told they need to find a Medicare plan.
A lot of these guys don’t make a decision because they’re afraid to choose a plan. They’re afraid they will enroll in the wrong plan. So they need our help.
They really need someone to steer them into the correct plan that’s going to fit their needs, have their doctors in the network, and cover their medications that they’re currently taking.
So, 10,000 a day – that’s a huge number. And from what I understand that 10,000 is going to increase as time goes on. We’ve got more and more seniors turning 65.
So it’s a great market, a great opportunity. It is probably the best time to sell Medicare Advantage. And one more thing to consider is that you’ve got a lot of agents retiring, getting out of the business. So that’s good for us agents that are in the field selling. We’ve got more opportunity.
DD: Yeah, and the average age of an insurance agent today is 60. These guys aren’t going to work forever. They want to be put to pasture, enjoy their boomer retirement years. After all, they’ve been working hard.
I’ll add too that not only are they all close to retirement age, but there are not as many agents taking up new roles as there are agents retiring. So the amount of agents necessary to service a multimillion size market like this is going to be even starker. So the demand is going to be higher for an agent. Wouldn’t you agree that would be the case?
LM: I completely agree. The more agents that retire – that’s just more business for us. So we’re being put into a very good situation. It’s a target-rich environment. We just need to become knowledgeable in the products and offer it to the seniors that we’re working with already.
DD: A lot of agents will look into this field and this is my concern. When I started in final expense I saw Medicare holders a lot, but I also heard from other agents, “Oh, I like Medicare Supplements, but Medicare Advantage, it’s difficult, it’s hard.” Could you expand on that thought?
Is that really the case? Is Medicare Advantage a complex sale or is it a simple sale? Explain to somebody new possibly looking into the realities of selling Medicare Advantage.
LM: Got you. When we compare Med Supps to Medicare Advantage, the Advantage is a little more complicated sell for one reason. On the Medicare Supplements you don’t have to worry about a network. That’s it. There’s no network.
You go to any doctor, any specialist, any hospital system that accepts Medicare and they’re fine with their Med Supp. So that complexity is taken out when you’re dealing with Medicare Supplements.
So if Medicare Supplements are fairly easy, how complex is Medicare Advantage? It’s not that hard. What you’ve got to do is talk to the insured. You’ve got to figure out what doctors they’re seeing, what specialists they’re seeing, and all you’ve got to do is check the provider list which is online and make sure that their doctors are in network.
Most people are going to have a couple of doctors, a healthy individual will have maybe their primary, but unhealthy individuals will have specialists like an endocrinologist or a cardiologist. All you’ve got to do is check the provider list and that’s it. As long as you’ve done that you’ve done your CYA.
Now, the other portion of Medicare sales or the difference between a Supplement and an Advantage plan is you have a prescription portion. So you’ve got to sell a prescription drug plan with a Medicare Supplement. For Medicare Advantage a presciption plan is included. Those two products are identical.
The copays per carrier may be a little bit different, but they function the same way. All you’ve got to do is pull up the formulary, which is usually in a PDF and just do the search for the medications and make sure they’re in there.
So is it that complex? Is it hard? No. You just got to do a little bit of homework. For final expense agents, you already have a list of medications you’ve got to ask for for your underwriting. So it’s really not that much more work. Making the transition from final expense to Medicare would be easy.
DD: So it sounds like when someone says, “Oh, Medicare Advantage is hard,” it’s not that it’s difficult to sell in a sense of persuading somebody to buy because these people most likely all have to have Medicare, right. So they’re all prospects in a way. I guess what you’re saying is you just have to find the right plan.
A lot of it is just doing the service, just adding value. You don’t have to talk people into these plans. This isn’t some kind of hard sale or anything like that. Is that what you’re saying?
LM: It is the easiest sale in my opinion. First of all, most of these plans normally do not have a premium, so you’re not asking for money. That’s great. You’re going to get paid a commission on a product that you don’t have to ask money for.
The service that you’re providing is going through your handful of plans and finding a service that fits your prospect. What I tell my agents is, “You have five plans. They all pay the same, so there’s really no incentive to go with one or the other.
What you’re doing is you’re trying to stick them into the right plan based on their doctors, based on their specialists, and based on the prescriptions that they’re taking. That’s how you do your analysis and breakdown and start narrowing down the plans.
Now, if it turns out that two out of the five cover all their doctors and all their meds then go with your go-to company. Go with the one that you feel strongly about and one that’s a big name brand that you’re comfortable with.
What Is Required To Sell?
DD: What’s the process for somebody who is interested in selling Medicare Advantage to actually be able to sell? You have to do more than get a health insurance license, right? Can you explain?
LM: First of all, you final expense guys already have a life and health license, so that’s step number one. You have to have your license.
Once you’re licensed there are some certifications that need to be done. In the final expense world, you get a contract with a carrier and you’re good to start selling that product.
In the Medicare world you’re going to get a contract with a carrier, but once you’re contracted with that carrier every year that you are selling Medicare Advantage you’re going to have to take a certification test. It’s called AHIP.
A lot of people freak out, “Oh, it’s so hard.” Well, it’s Medicare 101. You need to know the product that you’re selling. So don’t view it as, “God, I have to take another test.” No, no, it is a five module certification test that teaches you everything about Medicare. It gives you a very good foundation on what products you’re going to be selling.
So you got to take the AHIP. You got to pass it. Once you get that AHIP done then you’ve done about 70% of your certifications. After AHIP is completed each carrier that you’re appointed with wants to make sure that you know their product. So you’re going to have certifications that you’ll have to take with each carrier in reference to the products that they offer.
So you’ll take a test for United’s ARP product. You’ll take a test for their Medi-Medi product, which is the dual plan, the chronic plan. So you’ll take a product knowledge test, but once you’ve certified and passed those tests then they give you the green light to sell. At that point you order your kits and you’re ready to rock and roll.
Now, certifications in AHIP have to be done every year. So if somebody is wanting to come in right now, they’re going to have to get it done for 2019. In July or August the certifications will come out for 2020 and it’s just a yearly thing that you’re going to have to do.
DD: I guess one way to look at it, and Luis, correct me if I’m wrong, when you take these certifications, especially with the carriers, you’re learning all the intricacies of the product. You’re getting the technical product training you would not have otherwise gotten so that when you get out in the field you can represent and actually sell these plans efficiently.
So these tests are important. You have to look on the bright side and realize they prepare you to be effective when you’re actually seeing prospects, wouldn’t you agree?
LM: 100% agree, yes. Those courses that you’re taking on those carriers’ sites are specific to the plans in your area. So it’s not just broad general knowledge, it is knowledge on the specific plan that you’re selling. So at the bare minimum you’re going to be very knowledgeable on that one plan, and it’s not knowledge that you’ve got to memorize.
Once you’re certified you have the book. I can’t memorize all the plans that are out there, but once I’ve narrowed it down to what plans I’m going to recommend, I open up my booklet and it’s all there. I use the Summary of Benefits in all my sales to explain the plan.
Carrier Selection Strategy
DD: Let’s shift gears here and talk about the brokerage or carrier selection strategy. I teach agents in the life insurance business to be independent and carry multiple carriers. This provides our clients with options.
I’m wondering how this looks as far as Medicare Advantage goes? How do you recommend a new agent should start? Should they start with one company? Should they start with multiple companies? And if so, all at once or scaled up? What’s your suggestion?
LM: I think that depends on how much knowledge one agent can soak up. Now, as time goes you most definitely want to have every carrier that’s in your area. So you always want to have the big nationals.
You want to have UnitedHealthcare, you want to have the Humana, the Aetna, the Signa. Those are your national carriers that you definitely want to have. So when a new agent starts, I would think about potentially doing at least those four.
Now in every area you’re going to have some regional carriers and then you may even have some that are just for a specific county. Depending on how strong the product is you are going to want appointments with those carriers.
Would I do them all at one time? No. It’s too much information. There is too much variation in the plans. If you can absorb all that data and you have a plan, yeah, why not, let’s give them everything out there, but I tend to start my agents off with the national carriers and then as they need the regional ones, then we’ll provide the regionals.
But definitely stick with the nationals, you can’t go wrong with that. United has 70% market share at least here in my area. That may be a little high, but they’re the leaders in my area. So when I say your area, agents, I’m referring to your county. Every county is different.
What Are The Long Term Advantages Of Selling Medicare Advantage?
DD: What would you describe as the longterm advantages of a focus on Medicare Advantage as your primary line of business?
LM: When you’re doing cross-selling I offer multiple lines in my agency. When I have one hook into a customer, one product, that customer tends to stay for a period of time. As I put two hooks into them, three hooks into them, they just stay with me longer. It’s harder for them to leave because I’ve got more hooks on them.
So I think for the agents that are just offering final expense, adding the Medicare Advantage is going make them so much more valuable to that insured individual. They’re not going to want to leave and go somewhere else.
When that other agent comes knocking on their door, they’re going to see the advantage… but you’re going to make the job much harder for that other agent. So cross selling I think is huge. It’s not only huge for the source of income, but the fact that you build longterm renewals and keep clients on the books.
First Year Commission Or Renewal Driven Business?
DD: A lot of agents are looking at this like we’ve talked about it from a final expense standpoint. They’re used to getting pretty high first year commissions selling final expense or maybe selling mortgage protection.
These types of life insurance generally have a higher first-year basis. What about Medicare Advantage? Do you see the Medicare Advantage world as a first-year commission driven business or more of a renewal driven business model?
LM: I love the commission structure with Medicare. Renewals really are the reason why you’re selling this product. Now if you end up writing somebody who is aging into Medicare, somebody 65, they just got their Medicare card, they have Part A and Part B and you’re selling them a plan, you’re initial commission is $497, give or take a few dollars depending on your area, but let’s just say $500, that’s your initial profit.
Now if they already have a plan and you’re flipping them, you’re making a change or let’s say they have a prescription drug plan and you’re enrolling them in a Medicare Advantage plan, your commission is going to be half of the $500, so we’re going to say $250.
Now, I’ve done the magic number. In other words I’ve tried to calculate how many sales do you have to have to build a revenue stream that’s going to come in month after month and not deviate very much. Here’s the beauty of this niche – there’s hardly any kind of service work.
My magic number is 500. I tell my agents, “God, wait till you get to 500. At 500 you’ve built a pension.” That pension at 500 policies is about $10,000 a month, and literally a one-man show can handle a book of about 500 because the service work is minimal.
How Long Would It Take To Write 500 Sales?
DD: How long do you think it would take to write 500 pieces of business? Like somebody who’s serious about this business, they’re full-time, they really give it their all. Paint the picture for somebody that likes this idea of making $10,000, literally passive, for the most part. How long does it take? Five years? Ten years? What do you think?
LM: For me, to successfully hit that number, I’m going to say five years. If you write 10 a month that’s a good number to shoot for. Ten a month will leave you about 100 a year if you take into consideration some people die. I think in five years you can build a solid book – 500 people sitting there that are consistently renewing, they’re keeping their plans and you’re getting that renewal check.
I tell you what, I love my renewal check. It’s steady, it doesn’t change. In your world if you don’t sell you don’t make any money, so you need that, you’ve got to keep that hustle going. Well, in my world, in the Medicare world, once you’re there, you’ve just got to maintain it.
So I think it’s going to provide a very, very good balance for the final expense guys that make a ton of money upfront, but their service commissions are low. With Medicare Advantage you don’t make a ton upfront, but it’s steady, so it may give these guys a little bit of stability, a little more of a comfort level with knowing that they’re going to get this paycheck day-in day-out regardless of whether they’re selling.
DD: I’ll add in my perspective. I’ve been in the business since 2011 and most of my business has been focused on final expense.
I’ve always been a hardcore workaholic, but I was about two or three years into the business where I thought, “You know, I won’t always work or probably won’t want to work this hard because I’ll have a lot of kids running around, they’ll have activities. I want to be in a position where I can enjoy that.”
My father worked seven days a week, traveled constantly, built a respectable, very big business, retired at 50. He did very well, but all those years he had no personal or social life. He couldn’t afford to stay away from taking care of his clients and his customers.
The reason I mention this is because I made a decision that I was either going to recruit, which is the path I went, or I was going to sell Medicare and have a passive renewal driven income added to my business because I could see in the future I wouldn’t possibly want to work as hard, at night, and stay away from my family.
What’s great is that this opportunity is extended to everybody who wants to get into it. I promise you guys, there’s a lot of you out there that do very well with final expense.
You may be relatively new to the business or perhaps you have been in the business for several years, but you see a need to diversify. You see a need that maybe in a couple of years you don’t want to necessarily work nights all the time. You want to spend more time at home. This is a great opportunity to do just that.
LM: Final expense life insurance sales means you have to hustle, you’ve got to consistently be closing business to make that check. With Medicare Advantage, say you want to take a month off, nothing is going happen. And I still haven’t even touched on the amount of service work that you have to do with this business. I love the service work because it’s very, very little work.
What Service Work Is Required?
DD: When do you actually have to talk to a client? Are they blowing your phone up when they get a bill back or when something happens? What service work, if any, do you have to deal with?
LM: I would say the majority of calls that I get from the seniors I’ve enrolled are, “My buddy needs help.” God, I love those calls. That’s usually the call that I get, “Hey, can you help so-and-so with this plan.”
Sometimes a client will have some issues with potentially seeing a doctor that’s out-of-network. Well, we got a little problem there. Or a medication that they’re taking is not covered or the copay changes.
My go-to line is, “I would love to help you.” In fact, at the very beginning of my business I tried to help, but every time I got on the phone either with a three-way call with customer service or I had them in my office and we made the call, the representative from the carriers would make me get off the phone or they’d say, “Hey, can you step out and we’ll talk to your customer.”
So at the very beginning of my business I was trying to get involved in the claims. Well now, even if I wanted to I can’t. I’ve got to get the medical release information to do that. Why would I want to put myself in that position?
I have no authority on claims or adjusting the claim, so my go-to line is, “Hey David, I would love to help you out with your problem that you’ve got, but here’s the issue. If I call for you they’re going to make me hang up. So let me tell you, here’s what you’re going to do, David.
Look at the number on the back of your card. You’re going to call them up. They have a team that is dedicated to helping you with your problems. They’re going to be able to see your claim, they’re going to know what’s going on. So call that number. If you got any problems call me back, but they’re the ones that are going to solve it for you.”
Literally most of the time I would say all the service work is handled by the customer service center. Every now and then I’ll get a call, “Hey, I want to go see a doctor, can you help me find one?” Gosh, that’s a piece of cake.
I go to the provider search, search for a cardiologist and I’ll give them a list or I’ll check the doctor that they already have in mind, but the service work is super, super easy.
Marketing Medicare Advantage
DD: So we talked about the Medicare Advantage opportunity. Great renewal income with a consistent effort and writing lots of policies. It’s a really simple sale with a huge market. But let’s talk about what I believe is one of the most important components to any insurance sales business and that’s marketing.
We can have a great product or a great concept, but without having people to see, as you well know, you don’t really have a business. So how can we market Medicare Advantage and expanding on that, what would you consider the best way to market for Medicare Advantage?
LM: What I do and what my agents do is going to be probably a little bit different than what your final expense agents are going to do and here’s where the difference is. Your final expenses guys are already buying leads that are putting them in front of a senior, probably a senior that already has Medicare. They’re already spending the money. All they have to do is transition.
So what else do they have to do? Well they just have to throw out the, “By the way, I now offer Medicare,” or they wear a little button that says, “Ask me about Medicare.”
DD: It’s a pretty good idea. I like that.
LM: All you have to do is transition over. They don’t have to do anything different but throw out the “By the way, I do this now too.” For the agent that doesn’t have leads, doesn’t buy leads and is starting in the business, well, there’s a lot of ways to market Medicare.
During AEP, where I derive probably 60% of my business, I have a booth at a local grocery store. It wasn’t the best advertising potential. It was the store that nobody wanted, out in the country. I took it, but I really didn’t want it. And it’s turned out to be a goldmine. I literally sit there two days a week for about five hours and I will have customers just come and talk to me.
And you’re going to think, “People, don’t buy Medicare at the grocery store.” I get most of my business there and every now and then they’ll tell me, “Hey it’s too loud, can you come by my house.” “Great, I’ll be there as soon as I get done,” but working a grocery store is great.
Where else can you market? Second place you can market is your book of business. So the final expense agents that have been in business for a while make that call, “David, how’s your final expense policy? How’s life treating you, David?” Do that service call to your insured and then say, “Hey, by the way, I now offer Medicare. Is there anything I can help you with?” So you can work your existing book of business.
Also, depending on how you have your book of business managed or your CRM, your management system, do a search for people that are 64 and find out which ones are turning 65 in the next three months and work that book. Once you get appointed with a carrier, they have a marketing department.
I know United will give you a letter that you can send your book of business. It’s already prefilled. They’ll have your name on it, they’ll print it and all you’ve got to do is put, “Dear David,” and you can send those out to every insured person that you have in your book of business.
Also you have the leads that you’re already purchasing if you are in final expense. You don’t have to spend more money to be successful in this business, just do what you’re doing, just offer another product. There’s a compliant way to make that transition, but it’s not a huge investment for them to be successful in this.
Finding Leads On A Tight Budget
DD: So let’s focus on the agent that’s interested in selling Medicare Advantage. They like everything they’ve heard about the opportunity, but they just don’t have money and maybe they don’t have experience either as far as a book of business, but they definitely don’t have the money to market for Medicare Advantage.
Can you detail any kind of free lead opportunities to market for Medicare Advantage, like referral relationships or maybe incentives from the companies? What options are available for agents who are in this situation?
LM: Two just came to mind that I forgot to mention earlier. One of them is in your circle of influence, your group of people that you run with. If you have a doctor that you know, doctors have patients that are turning 65.
A problem that a lot of these doctors have is a patient may enroll in a plan and if that agent didn’t double check the doctor list, that doctor could lose that patient. They’re going to go somewhere else.
The doctor loses money on that patient. So getting with the doctor, knowing what plans a doctor takes and creating a relationship with the doctor’s office, letting them know, “Hey, I’ll take care of your people that turn 65.
I’m going to make sure that they enroll in one of the plans that you’ve got or do my best job to put them in one of these plans,” that way the doctor can retain the patient. So I think working with doctors’ offices is a good way to bring in business.
Each carrier has relationships that they’ve created with senior centers in the community. Here in my area its a grocery chain, H-E-B, which is a huge chain. Well we don’t have enough agents to stick in there. So you tell a carrier, “Hey I want to get into a grocery store,” and they’ll find one for you.
I think working the marketing events that these carriers have is a great way to bring in business. And you literally spend nothing to get a spot. Nothing. The carrier provides everything.
They give you a table, chairs, the booth, they’ll give you the tablecloth, the banners. These carriers have marketing money to spend that they will gladly provide to these agents free of charge.
Senior events are another great way to market. You can do these all year long. You can do education events all year long too. They’ll even pay for the advertisements in the paper or pay for mailers to go out.
If you want to have a marketing event at a restaurant and talk about the product, depending on your relationship with the carrier, a rep may even go with you and help you teach a class in Medicare. Then you get a little sign-in sheet, pass out your cards and you never know what can come out of that.
So there’s a lot of opportunity for the new agent that does not have a book of business that they can tap into. It’s just a matter of getting a little bit creative, having that will, having the drive to meet with these carrier reps.
You can call them up and say, “Okay, Mr. UnitedHealthcare representative,” that works with the agency, “Help me out. This is what I want to do. Where should I go?” and they know their market. What works here in my area may not work in your area, but the reps in your area know what will work and they’ll help you.
Meeting compliance Guidelines
DD: Great. So question for you. If I may say from a sales perspective, the biggest objection of doing Medicare Advantage and perhaps the biggest concern is compliance as it relates to talking and selling to the prospect and all of the activity involved.
Can you expand on what the compliance issues are that some agents are concerned about and give a realistic perspective, especially for somebody with approximately 900 Medicare Advantage cases written, as to what the agent really should worry about when it comes to compliance issues?
LM: The biggest issue is making a compliant presentation. Agents sometimes want to speed through the process, get in and get out, and you’re going to miss some things if you get in and get out.
The two biggest complaints I often hear about agents are: number one – they don’t cover everything that should be covered. So there is a process to selling Medicare Advantage. You’ve got to follow the process. Sometimes it takes about an hour, depending on how involved the prospect is, how many questions they’re asking, but on the average I take about an hour.
Now, once you do a compliant presentation there is one thing that can go wrong and this is where agents often get in trouble. They don’t check the doctors and they don’t check the medications.
As long as you make checking these two things part of your presentation, then if there is a customer complaint that goes up, your upline has the ability to fight for you if you’ve done the compliant presentation.
If you checked the doctors, you checked the meds, you did all your homework, you’ve got nothing to worry about. It’s when you don’t do that that you’ve got something to worry about.
It’s scary. I’ve had a complaint or two come my way and usually when it comes my way it’s because they’re being coached by the other agent to say this or say that, but when the complaint comes our way then it’s just a matter of responding to it in a timely manner and they’ll ask for a few things.
There’s a scope of appointment that needs to be signed. You provide that, you’ve pretty much won the battle. And then where we’re going to knock it out of the ballpark is if you can give me the notes that you took during that meeting. I take very detailed notes about the doctors and the medications.
In fact, I have a little sheet that I’ve created that lists all the doctors and I have a little checkmark box that says, “In-network or out-of-network.” I make sure that I check every doctor. I make sure that I check every medication and I find out what tier they’re in and I’ll write that down. It’s an easy process.
I also kept miscellaneous notes for things like, “Sister was in the room.” I want to make sure that I give my upline the ability to fight for me with a complaint. I’ve been doing business since ’01.
If you do it right you’re not going to have issues, and if you do have a complaint they’re just going to get squashed because you have the right documents, you have the scope, you did a compliant presentation.
My latest one that came across my desk was a complaint because the doctor wasn’t in-network. So I go to my list and said, “Look, I covered them all in here.” Well it turned out that she forgot to tell me about that doctor. How am I supposed to know? There’s just no way for me to know. Had I known I would have addressed it, but I sent in my documentation and the complaint went away.
So a lot of it is just documentation. Cross your T’s, dot your I’s. Life insurance pays out when the individual dies, but Medicare is very, very important because it pays out for their health while they are alive. So you really want to make sure that you’ve done the job correctly.
Can You Cross Sell?
DD: So when we look at new Medicare Advantage clients, ones that we found or wrote from maybe one of these referral partners, what’s the compliance or the standard in cross selling business to them?
The reason I ask is some people might be thinking, “Oh, I could build a book of Medicare Advantage clients from scratch and then I can cross sell other things like life products, annuities, etc.” Can you speak on that as far as compliance issue and if that’s something that’s acceptable?
LM: If a referral is given to you wait for them to contact you. At the doctors’ offices I go to every single month I leave a stack of cards and tell them to contact me.
I don’t want the doctor to give me the name because I don’t have permission to contact them. I tell the doctor, “Here, give them my card, have them call me, have them email me.” So have them contact you. That’s the best way to get a referral.
Then as far as working your book of business, I love working my book of business. Regardless of what my book of business is I try to retain it, that’s how I’m going to make my living, that’s how I’m going to be able to maintain my service commissions.
So I call, “Hey David, how are you doing? How’s life? How are the kids? How’s the life product I sold you working out? And then I throw out the, “By the way.” “By the way, how is your Medicare Supplement?” Start the conversation that way.
A lot of seniors have Supplements. So go with, “How’s your Supplement?” “Well, my Supplement, it’s okay.” “Well tell me what you like about it, but mainly what I want to know, tell me what you don’t like about it. Let me see if I can solve your problem,” and set that appointment up.
Now you used to have to set this up 48 hours in advance. Well they took that away, now you can do same day. So you say, “David, you know what? My schedule is free in a couple of hours. Can I stop by your place or do you want to come by my office and let’s see if we can address this problem.” So working your book is huge, they’re your customers.
Now in the Medicare Advantage world if you don’t have permission to contact you’re not supposed to contact. You can’t door knock for Medicare Advantage, so you’ve got to wait for it to come to you, but you can put a lot of honey out there to attract the bees.
So you do as much as you can out there, wear a button, hand out your cards. The grocery store is great. Sometimes I’ve gone in there with a new agent, they’re like, “You’re selling Medicare, why are you talking to somebody who’s clearly not Medicare age?”
Well they’ve got a mom and dad, “Hey, tell your mom and dad, hey, they need help with their Medicare tell them to come.” So there’s a lot of ways to put honey out there to attract the bees. You want to do it compliantly though, that’s the key.
Do it compliantly and if a rule gets broken, is it the end of the world? Are you going to lose your license? No, you’re going to get a warning. Usually what happens is they tell you not to do whatever you did anymore.
At that point you don’t want to push your luck because it could come back and bite you. So just do everything the right way. The biggest thing is you can’t door knock Medicare Advantage, that’s a big no-no, but putting out honey is great.
What To Expect From Presentation To Application Process
DD: Walk us through briefly what an agent can expect actually inside of a Medicare Advantage sales presentation? Take us through the entirety of the insurance sales presentation, from the moment you meet them at the door, to what you do in the actual presentation itself, then wrapping it up, writing the application and leaving. What can an agent expect doing a sales presentation selling Medicare Advantage?
LM: That sales process for me usually lasts about an hour. Usually the individual has no idea what Medicare covers. They don’t know that there’s a deductible, that it only covers 80% and that there’s no prescription drug coverage with their Medicare. They’ve got no idea, and so I usually do my presentation with that in mind. Let’s talk about Medicare.
I don’t even mention plans, I have nothing on my desk. I just literally take out a sheet of paper, I’ve got their Medicare card and I explain what they currently have.
Then they see, “Oh shoot, I have a problem. I don’t have drug coverage.” So I’ve enlightened them in that first step. So once I’ve shown them what they’ve got then I jump into my presentation, which is always the same.
“David, you have a choice. You can go with option 1 or option 2.” It’s like choosing a car or a truck. Which is better? Well, it depends. I have no idea if a car or a truck is better for them. It all depends on that one person.
So you explain option 1, which is maybe a Medicare Supplement with a prescription drug plan, give them the pros and cons there. Then you do the Medicare Advantage and you give them the pros and cons and then literally at that point I don’t say a word.
I let them tell me, “I want to go this way or that.” Once they decide which way they want to go, then at that point I break out my little sheet where I’m like, “Okay, we’re going to go with the Advantage plan. We need to check the network.”
Now, not all Advantage plans are HMOs. Some of them are PPOs, but it’s still a network based product, so I still have to do my homework.
So if we’re going to go the Medicare Supplement route then I don’t have to check networks, it makes it a little bit easier, but I still have to check medications on both options. I’ve got to make sure if I’m going to recommend just a prescription drug plan that I check and make sure that they’re covered.
Once they tell me which way they want to go, which 9 out of 10 times we’re going to go the Medicare Advantage route, then I do my homework. I get my doctor list, my prescription list.
Once I’ve used that list and done my analysis to determine which product is best, I pull out the product, put it in front of them and I tell them, “Hey, this is the one I think we’re going to have to go with and here’s why. Your doctors are covered here.”
Now I do run every now and then into the scenario where they have seven ducks and I’ve got five out of seven covered and I’ll tell them, “Okay, well this plan I’ve got five out of seven, with this one I’ve got four out of the seven.” Sometimes I don’t hit a home run, so I present the best option and make sure that they’re aware that these two docs aren’t covered.
Once they’ve given me the okay, I’ll open up the booklet and review the Summary of Benefits. I’ll go over each section and literally I’m reading off the book and I don’t deviate from the book.
They may throw some off question, and I respond, “If it’s not in the book, I’m not going to give an answer because I don’t want to tell you something that might not be true and get in trouble for it later.”
My usual go-to answer is, “If it’s not in the book, if Medicare covers it, your plan will cover it.” So the question is not will the plan cover it, it’s whether Medicare will cover it. So that usually answers questions that are not in the book.
So we do the presentation, we go over the Summary of Benefits. After the Summary of Benefits we’ll get into the additional benefits that they’re going to get with an Advantage plan, which seniors love.
Sometimes they’ll get dental, vision, hearing, an over-the-counter benefit, transportation and a lot of them are loving the gym membership. So depending on your product or the area that you’re in, you’ll have some benefits that you can review. That’s usually a plus.
At that point I pretty much have won them over and then we do an application. Sometimes I’ll do paper apps, sometimes I’ll do an electronic app. I’m loving the electronic apps, very, very easy to do and the chance of making a mistake is slim. That’s the process.
I record some of my agents so that rookies can see how they are selling and doing their presentation so that the agent can formulate their own presentation from that example.
Is that really the case or are there opportunities where you can sell a Medicare Advantage plan at any time of the year, even if they’re not turning 65 or aging into Medicare?
LM: Outside of the annual enrollment there are four scenarios for selling Medicare Advantage. Scenario number one, we already know, turning 65. That’s going to be your go-to scenario.
Number two is people that have a chronic condition. The biggest one in my area is diabetes. If they’re diabetics, whether they’re on insulin or the pill, they are considered chronics and I can enroll them in the plan year round.
The third one is going to be what I call the duals or Medi-Medis. These are people that have Medicare and Medicaid. You can enroll these guys all year long. They have put a cap on how many times they can switch. They have to limit it to one time every three months.
The fourth one is people that have low income subsidy. This is known as the extra help with prescription drugs. These are people that make a little too much money for Medicaid, so they don’t qualify there, but they’re getting some help with their prescription drug plan.
The only way to know if they are getting this help is to call the carrier, give them some sensitive data such as their name, their date of birth, their Medicare information, and they’ll do a look-up and tell you.
You can also go to Medicare.gov, plug in that same data and you can find out what kind of help they’re getting. If they are eligible for LIS, which stands for low income subsidy, or they are getting LIS, you can enroll them year round.
So really it’s a year round business. In my opinion I think for final expense guys that are out there selling probably the majority of your customers are going to be Medi-Medis, if they’re low income they’re going to have LIS, or they’re going to have a health condition.
Now diabetes is just one of them. There is another set of conditions, which are cardiovascular disorders. I hardly ever run into those. I just go straight for diabetics. So it’s year round.
What’s It Like Working With A Mentor Like Luis?
DD: Tell us how you would teach a person new to the business how Medicare Advantage works, not just from an educational viewpoint, but also from a sales viewpoint. What’s it like working with you and what should an agent expect?
LM: The biggest thing is you’ve got to do all your work to become knowledgeable. There’s no way to teach the foundations. You got to do your AHIP, you’ve got to do your carrier certifications. When you come in after completing all of those things we become your Medicare guide.
We’re there to help you out with specific questions, scenario type questions. You shouldn’t be asking Medicare 101 questions to your upline. Those you should know, but there are certain scenarios that are tough that you run into that you need help with. Well you got access to me. I’ve got a business partner that I work with. He’s my go-to guy when I run into a scenario that I can’t figure out. You have the carrier reps that can help you out too.
So you have us as your backbone, as your support line. I’m available by text, that’s usually the best way to get a hold of me. The only time I’m not going to answer is when I’m with a customer. Other than that, I’m usually going to pick up the phone or I’m going to reply to a text and I’m like you, I’m a workaholic. I work all the time. I’m at home and I’m working. I’m pitching softball and I got my phone with me. I’m out there. I know you guys are meeting with customers throughout the day and in the evening, so you need help. So help by text messaging, email, phone call. We’re going to create a chat room via a group meet, where you can get in and ask questions too.
I’m also working on creating a YouTube channel where I’m going to put scenarios out. So you may call me and tell me, “Hey, I’ve got a customer that’s in this scenario.” I’m going to try to have a channel where you can go straight on there and just search for that scenario and get the answer.
So I’m going to try to teach you how to fish as opposed to just giving you fish because at some point there’s only so many fish I can give you. So I’m going to teach you where to go find the answers. That’s my job. I don’t benefit one bit if these agents don’t sell, so I want to help you sell.
Medicare is not a hard product to sell. Again, they’ve got to have it. That’s the beauty. Life insurance is, in my opinion, a much harder sell. You’re selling a piece of paper with a guarantee if something happens their family is going to get money. In the Medicare field, in the heath industry you’re selling a product that they’re using that’s going to maintain their health. So it’s so much easier.
Plus again, remember, you’re not asking for money. God, I love that. I have a product that I sell that is a PPO. My premium for the PPO product is $15 and guess what? It’s not coming out of their account, it’s coming out of their Social Security. I’m getting it before they spend their check.
DD: No more misdrafts anymore, guys, that’s a nice thing.
That’s it, exactly. I’m getting that money first, and that’s if I sell PPO. I don’t sell very many PPOs. PPOs are not rich in benefits, copays are usually higher than the HMOs, so HMOs are normally what gets sold.
So again, I hope I answered that question. Me and my partner, we’re going to try to put resources out there where agents can get them and we’ll share those resources with you so you can provide them to your agents.
So in case they need an answer right there and they can’t get a hold of me because I’m in the middle of a meeting, then they should at least know, “Okay, I’m going to go here and type in whatever the scenario is,” and try to find a little one to five minute video on how to solve that problem.
What Technology Do You Need?
DD: So from a technology standpoint, what does an agent need to have with them? Do they need laptops, iPads? What kind of tech do they need to get out there and sell this stuff to Medicare Advantage prospects?
LM: Okay, so let’s go old school. I was old school until about two years ago. I carried a little computer bag and guess what? There was no computer in there. I carried an application or two for every carrier that I offered, I had the big formulary book that I checked the medications against and that was it really. I was very old school.
Well now I use an iPad. I don’t leave home without it anymore. Now I still carry my computer bag of files in case I get in an area with limited service. So I still have my drug lists, just in the form of PDFs.
If you have a laptop you can just make a folder and stuff everything in there. If your laptop has the ability to write on it, or if you’ve got a tablet or an iPad where you can use your signature, you don’t need anything, you can get everything done on that piece of whatever hardware you’re going to use.
DD: And to interrupt, you use an iPad, but an agent can use any kind of tablet or even cheap laptop to access all the same information.
LM: Yeah. Most of my guys don’t carry an iPad. They’re all PC people, so they’ll carry a little laptop with them or a Surface Pro and they’ll have their data in there. So you can be old school and go with paper apps or you can go the technology route, which is being pushed heavily.
Carriers really want you to do electronic applications. You’ll log into their site or whichever carrier you’re going to use, and you can do your applications on there. It’s just whatever the agent prefers, they can go old school with paper or they can go digital. It’s just a preference.
Carriers no longer print out drug lists. So if you want to walk around with a book that covers all the meds or a doctor provider book, those things are gone. You have to do a search online. When I set up an appointment and I’m going out somewhere to a community where I know service may be sketchy, I ask them upfront, “I need a list of your doctors.”
I have to pre sell this. I want to do a little bit of homework. So I ask them, “Hey, give me a list of your doctors. Let me just double check.” I’m going to do my homework, that way when I get there I’m not there for five hours. I’ll get a list of their meds and I’ll do my little 10-minute homework and figure out which plan I’m going to walk in with.
So they can go digital and walk in with an iPad or a laptop, but again remember, you’re meeting with seniors. These guys are still old school, so sometimes walking in with a product book is still a good way to go.
What To Expect On Your First Presentation
DD: Great. So let’s imagine for a moment we have an agent who is going to do Medicare Advantage. They’ve done all the AHIP and certification for the carriers you’re going to sell and they’ve got a lead program set up. They’re running their very first presentation.
What’s the experience like the first time they’re in the field? What can you tell an agent who’s going to get started in this business what they can expect on their first presentation?
LM: I will tell you, seniors are very nice people to deal with. Even if you just tell them, “David, this is my first appointment.” They’re going to help you out, so it’s just an easier segment of the population to deal with. They’re not in a hurry, you’re probably in their home. Sometimes I’ll have 10 cups of coffee because their hospitality is great. You go to somebody younger, it’s like you get in and get out, it’s business, “Let’s take care of business. I got to go.”With seniors they’ve got time on their hands. So it’s usually nice to slow down, there’s not a lot of pressure.
I think for the agent they need to have their presentation ready when they walk in the door. You can’t go into this game and not have a system for how you’re going to present. So I would practice first doing the Medicare 101 presentation, very simple. Have that down and that’s going to be your step one.
You’re not going to do anything else, you’re not going to talk product, you’re not going to talk carriers, you’re not going to do anything until you do that Medicare 101 presentation first. Again, this is going to make you compliant.
So you’re going to do the Medicare 101 presentation. Then you’re going to tell them, “Hey, option 1 or option 2.” Practice that because you’re going to want to know what the pros and cons are for 1 and what the pros and cons are for 2, and then at that point let them tell you what they want.
Once they’ve done that, you’re going to go on to step 3. Step 3 is narrowing down the plans that belong to that one option that they choose. You have to learn how to do that.
You’re going to do the tech side of things you got to have all the provider links on your computer ready to go. You don’t want to be searching for the United Healthcare website and trying to figure out, “Okay, where do I go to do the search?” No, you have to have your homework done. You’ve got to know where to go find it.
I’ve got little folders so I know where everything is. I just click and my login information is there. It’s seamless. You got to have a folder on your computer where all the drug formularies are, so that way you know if you’re going to go with carrier ABC you go to their list and do a control F and do a search for the drugs.
So having some preparation in your presentations upfront is key. You’ve got to have your plan down. So you start with Medicare 101, help them decide if they’re going to go option 1 or option 2, number three is the narrowing down of the plans in that option and then number four you’ve got to know how to fill out an app, whether you’re going to do it electronically or you’re going to do it on paper.
It’s important you practice filling out the app before you have a client ready to sign. I think most of the carriers have an area where you can go in and fill out a sample app so you kind of get a feel for it, and that’s really it.
I think being prepared, going in there with a game plan and knowing that there’s only two ways they’re going to go, they’re going to go left or right, car or truck, that’s it, and know if they go that route what you’re going to do.
What To Look For In An Agency
DD: So in the final expense business and really in all insurance business it’s really important that an agent take the time to find an agency that best matches their goals, whatever it is that they want to accomplish. So if we magnify this specifically to the Medicare Advantage business, what should aspiring Medicare Advantage agents look for in an agency to partner with?
LM: I think the biggest thing is support. You can find all the carriers with any upline, they’re all going to have them, that’s just the way the business is. The key is going to be working with somebody that you know, you trust, and somebody that is going to help you. That is the key, and that’s where my job comes in.
I don’t make a dime until these guys sell, so I want to help them. It’s self-serving, so I want to help out as much as I can and then once I’ve shown them how to fish then they’re catching fish all day long. It’s just the beauty of the business. So I think the biggest thing is support, knowing that you have a lifeline out there that you can reach up to when you’re stuck.
I think also having a database or a place where you can go to find answers to the questions you’ve got is important. So we’re creating that, we’re trying to make it easier. So we’ll have a Dropbox out there for them that they can go and access and pull documents from.
We’ll have a YouTube channel where they can go and get stuff, I think the agency should have a website that your agents can go to and get data from or knowledge from.
Again, it’s your job as an agent to learn the product. I don’t want to teach product, but if you are stuck in a scenario I want to help you overcome the obstacle so that you can make the sale.
DD: And I’ll add just a throw-in, I think it’s important to clarify, the product knowledge is something that you will absolutely get in the process of doing all of the required testing and certifications.
LM: Oh yeah.
DD: So that’s something that is a given, which is unusual in the insurance business because it’s not like final expense where you may or may not get product training. You may be thrown to the wolves, so it’s important you work with an agency that does that.
But the unique thing about Medicare Advantage is that you don’t get to sell a product unless you’ve really done a good job passing the requirements and meeting the standards of the carriers.
LM: Correct, and then also the carriers themselves. You may have to go to a face-to-face training before they even allow you to sell. Some carriers, if you’re a new agent, they’re going to want to see you.
You’ll be in a room of other new agents out there and they’ll have training on their products, which I love going to because these products do change every year. Even though I’m not required to go I go.
You’ll have kickoff meets where a carrier will say, “Hey, we’re kicking off our products for the following year.” Come in, they’ll have happy hour and they’ll talk about their product. I go to these to get the product knowledge because I hate reading. I don’t want to sit at my house and read a book, but I’ll go to a happy hour and learn about it.
So taking that initiative to go to these face-to-face meetings, going to the carrier kickoff meetings when new products are coming out for the following year is going to be extremely important for the agents. They’ve got to want to do this.
So they’ll get the knowledge out there. My job is to help them take that knowledge and turn it into a sale when they’re visiting with the prospect.
Warning Signs Of A Bad Agency
DD: So on the inverse of the question of what to look for in an agency, what are some warning signs that the Medicare Advantage agency you’re thinking about joining is not necessarily going to provide the best outcome for you as an agent?
LM: There’s only one thing that comes to mind. Depending on who you’re going to partner up with, you can get assignment of commissions. That is something that I would definitely warn you against.
If you’re an employee and you’re getting the salary and you’re selling Medicare Advantage, okay, that’s because you’re getting a salary, but for us agents out there that work on a commission, you want to own your book of business, they’re yours. If you change uplines, well that’s fine, change uplines, you’re still going to continue getting your renewals.
So the assignment of commissions, I would be extremely careful with that. There are some agencies out there that do an assignment of commissions and that’s because the new agents don’t know any better. So in an assignment of commission what happens is the carrier pays the upline, then the upline is now in the business of payroll and they’re paying the agent.
Well, not us. We don’t do that. We’re going to set you up directly with the carrier, you’re going to receive your commissions directly from the carrier. So that is, for me, huge. I don’t want to be tied. I want to make sure I get my money. I work hard and I want to get it.
Are Agents Vested?
DD: Yep, and to clarify, Luis, your saying that the agent should be getting paid direct from the carrier. What about vesting? Are agents 100% vested in this organization as well?
LM: Yeah, those renewals are yours. Now I have seen agents lose what they’ve written, and there’s only two ways that can happen. One, you lose your license. You can’t control that. If you lose your license you’re not going to get paid commissions.
I have known agents who think because they’re not selling anymore that they do not have to get certified for the following year. I’ve seen that and it’s not good because you lose your book, you’re starting from scratch if you decide to get back into it.
So every year you’ve got to do your AHIP and your carrier certifications, it’s a must. As long as you do that you’re 100% vested, that book of business that you’ve worked hard for is yours to grow.
You’re only going to lose a client one of two ways. They they either die and the plan terminates or another agent comes in and sees the different plan and they flipped them to their book of business. Other than that, they’re yours.
DD: So yeah, key thing, guys. Those who are thinking about doing this, make sure you’re 100% vested and make sure that you’re paid direct from the carrier.
Again, this is solid advice when you’re in business for yourself. Make sure that you own that book of business because if things don’t turn out the way you think and you want to change agency relationships, you’re at their mercy and that’s not why we get into this business. We do it because we want to have the benefits of a passive income, ultimately, after putting hard work upfront for it.
LM: That’s when you can go live in Florida and go fishing every day.
DD: That’s right.
LM: That’s my goal.
What Is Commission Like?
DD: So next question for you. Let’s talk about commissions. Commission is a little different than say the life insurance business. Can you expand upon what the commission structure is like and how if at all an agent can increase his commission level?
LM: Oh geez, all right. So, commissions. Commissions are very easy. You’re either going to get the full commission when you enroll somebody that is getting into Medicare or you’re going to get half, that’s it. There’s no other option.
So when you do an initial enrollment in my area it’s $497, but we’ll just round up to $500. An initial enrollment is $500. So if I enroll somebody April the 1st 2019, I’m going to get my $500. I’m not going to get a penny until May of 2020. In 2020 I’ll start getting my renewal commissions and I’ll get half of the $500. I’ll get $250. So I will be getting that forever.
DD: Luis, real quick, for the sake clarifying for agents wanting to know more about commissions, this assumes a client you wrote last year was a first timer to Medicare Advantage so you got the full $500?
DD: The renewal commission that’s paid out May 1st, is that the whole $250 or is it earned at that point?
LM: Good question. It’s earned. You’re going to get one-twelfth of that $250, so you’ll get that every single month. Some agents think that isn’t much but when you build a book of business that’s a steady income coming every single month.
You can budget your life because you know what’s going to come in every single month, give or take a little bit, but it’s not a huge commission that you’re getting on an individual basis.
DD: Yeah, no huge advanced commission fluctuations that are so prevalent in other niches. You know if you have a bad run of final expense business and five pieces of business charge back. You don’t get that with Medicare Advantage because you’re paid as earned.
LM: That is right, after the first year you’re paid as earned or potentially if you do a flip. So let’s just do a calendar year, January to December. Let’s say you’ve flipped a piece of business over. They were in the plan but what you offered was a little bit better and you flipped them in June.
Depending on the carrier, you may get the commissions from July to the end of the year all upfront or you could start getting the seventh-twelfth of that commission and then the eighth-twelfth in August and so forth, but either way when it’s all said and done at the end of the year, you’re going to get your full commissions.
So I love as earned business. It allows me to live. The upfront is great, I look at it as bonus money, but the as earned is steady and doesn’t change very much.
DD: So basically for the final expense agent that may do a cross sell approach like we talked about earlier, what you’re saying is if a first payment starts in July, there’s six months left in the year so they are going to get paid a prorated commission for the remainder of the year, is that correct?
LM: That’s a better way of saying it, correct. So they’re not going to get the full $250 because the individual was only under their book of business for half the year. Now January of the following year comes around then the $250 is going to be given to them throughout the year, but it’s going to be in one-twelfth increments, so prorated.
DD: Right, so if you enroll someone during a special election period, you’ll get paid as earned monthly from thereon out.
LM: Correct. Consider the advance when you’re enrolling somebody new into Medicare because you’re getting the full $500 upfront.
DD: So what happens in the annual enrollment period if it’s a lot of your business, if not all, and you’re switching a client over from one plan to another. When would you get paid on an annual enrollment business and is that as earned or is that going to be an advance and when does that actually pay out?
LM: So it’s all going to be as earned. So let’s just say they have ABC Company and you’re in AEP, which is the end of the year and you enroll them with a new carrier effective January 1. Well, your statement in February will have the January commissions.
Remember, you final expense guys, you got your business that you’re still doing. So you’ve got your upfront commissions. This is what’s helping to build that pension or salary that’s going to come for the rest of your life. It makes life a little bit easier.
DD: Sure. Yeah. So walk me through the process from start to finish for someone who wants to sell Medicare Advantage?
Again, imagine someone is watching this video, they’re enticed by the Medicare Advantage opportunity, what steps do they need to take and approximately how long is it going to take them from starting off to actually sitting down with their first prospects selling?
LM: So if I’m a final expense agent, I don’t know anything, I don’t have any Medicare contracts, I’ve done nothing with Medicare but I am sold. I want to offer this. I want that income potential.
Well step number one is they need to get with you, David. They need to say, “David, you know what? I’m ready to rock and roll. What do I got to do?” So step one is going to be to get contracting done for them.
So what I would do is I would start with one carrier, one national carrier and from there we can build. We’ll get you contracted with that carrier, then once you’re contracted with that carrier we’re going to show you how to navigate the carrier website and get to the certifications where it’s going to lead you off into AHIP.
Now the only financial investment you’ve got to make is in AHIP. It’s a whopping $125. That’s what you’re going to invest in to start this business. So you pay your $125 and you enroll in AHIP and you take that test.
Once you’ve taken that test, which is the Medicare 101 test, then the results will get transmitted electronically to the carrier. It’s going to take a day or two for them to see that you’ve passed your AHIP and at that point they’re going to allow you to take the product training.
Once you get that product training done another couple of days and you’re going to be given the green light to sell. At that point they’ll send you a marketing kit or you’ll talk to marketing and say, “Hey, I need a kit,” or they’ll ask you, “What counties are you in?” and they’ll help you out by senindg you a kit of applications and booklets that you’ve got to have to enroll people.
So how long does it take? Probably the biggest thing that’s going to eat a lot of their time is passing AHIP. You’re not going to knock it out in a day or two. You’ll probably do a module per day.
There are five modules, so I would say a week on AHIP and then at the most another day or two with the carrier training. I knock them out in a half-hour. A new agent will want to make sure they know the product. So give it another couple days for carrier training then you’re set.
Then once that is set we’ll move onto another national carrier, transmit the results to them, take their product training. Of course you’ve already done your AHIP, so we don’t have to do it again for a new carrier, but it’s just a matter of transmitting the results. That’s done behind the scenes when you login to the carrier site and you do the product training.
So it’s going to be dependent on them doing the product training. So I would say at the least a couple of days. It could take somebody a long time. If they don’t do their product training they’re not going to move forward.
So I’d say at the very least, for that highly motivated agent that’s going to jump at this thing and dedicate a lot of time just to get certified, I would say two weeks we can get them going with one carrier and then we can add carriers as we go.
DD: So you’re thinking conservatively two to four weeks from the point of taking AHIP, taking certifications for each carrier to being appointed and then going to say, cross selling a book of business is kind of realistic time?
LM: Correct, yes, about a month. Yes, that sounds very realistic.
When Is The Best Time To Start?
DD: Again, I’ve dealt with a lot of agents over the years and there’s this perception that the best time to get credentialed to sell Medicare Advantage is really close to annual enrollment period, which is approximately the October, November time period. Now again, because there’s this thought that this is the only time to sell Medicare Advantage.
So my question to you is if somebody is watching this and it’s April or May, when is the best time to actually get credentialed and start selling Advantage? Is it all the way until September or is it sooner than that?
LM: Well, I would say do it now. If you want to get into this business and you want to start off bringing Medicare Advantage to your customers you need to do it now. So without doing it now you’re not going to be able to offer this product to your customers or to your prospects. So you can’t have one without the other, so it’s a must.
Now, if you decide, “Well, I’m going to continue doing business as is and then I’m going to try to get in during the annual enrollment.” Not a problem, you can do that. You can’t sell anything until then and then once we get into the annual enrollment there’s a big roll out from every company out there.
When most of the carriers are in annual enrollment mode it’s not the proper time to be asking them for help or for marketing ideas or, “Hey, can you get me into this venue to help sell?” No, no, no. These guys are thinking annual enrollment, they’re thinking kickoff meetings, they’re minds are focused on that.
So in my opinion, I would just tell people, do it now. Why wait? You’re already spending money for leads, you’re already visiting with seniors, why would you want to wait? So get it done now, start selling right away, regardless of how far away you are from the annual enrollment period.
DD: Great point too because I think, and correct me if I’m wrong, Luis, most of these agents watching us are probably final expense agents due to the audience that I have on my channel, and every single day it’s likely they’re running into a prospect, maybe not multiple ones, but at least one, that’s probably eligible for a special election period.
They’re one of these chronic plans you talked about or they are 65 or older and need something better. They’re set up to where they may qualify to flip their plan now as opposed to waiting and the whole concept of this strategy is a year long one.
It’s not an eight week period at the end of the year, it is, “Let’s help people now and improve their Medicare Advantage coverage.” So like you said, why would you wait until an arbitrary time to do this?
You’ve got people right now who need you and the great thing is if you can’t help them now, if they don’t qualify to flip, then you can go see them at annual enrollment period and then help them.
LM: Pipe lining or ex-dating is the way to go. If you can’t help them out it doesn’t mean that they’re out of your book of business or they’re out of your potential. So what I would do in that scenario is tell them, “Hey David, I can’t help you right now.
You’re in the best possible plan,” or “You’re stuck in this plan. I don’t have a way to move you, but guess what? On October 15th I’m going to come by and see you. We’ll move you then.”
So pipeline it out, ex-date it. Whatever you’re using as your management system to track your customers and contact them, you want to plug that in there and if you’re using Outlook, create an appointment or a tasker to pop up and tell you, “Hey, go see David on October 15th.
He had ABC Company and it’s not working for him, he doesn’t like it. We want to put him with this company instead.” You’re going to be able to get in there and close it at that point.
Adding Final Expense Prospects To Medicare Advantage
DD: Let’s talk about the guy right now who sells final expense and he’s in the field right now working his leads. The average final expense agent I deal with is working about 20 or 25 leads a week, doesn’t matter what kind of lead.
My question to you is how many appointments do you think they could get to sell Medicare Advantage plans and what could they really yield out of these people that they see already for final expense to also improve upon their Medicare Advantage plans? Let’s say they are currently doing 12 appointments a week off of 25 leads for the sake of a general example. Maybe they see two to three leads a day.
LM: Ok, let’s say they see two a day. Now there’s a high likelihood that they have Medicare. There’s also a high likelihood that they’re in a plan that’s working for them. It’s going to be a tough sell in that scenario. I can’t say for certain, “Hey, you’re going to sell one out of every two,” because their lead could already be in a good plan.
You could be in an area where there are only one or two plans available, so they’re already in the best potential plan. There’s no way to really know until you get out there and bring out the “By the way,” and do an analysis of what they’ve got.
The beauty of the business is that you’re going to have or you should have every product that’s available in your county and you’ve got to know the weaknesses of all the plans. I know how to kill one plan over another, but just killing one over another for a benefit is not really the answer.
I have to make sure I’m going to help them with their problem, but I also have to make sure the doctors are in-network and medications are in the formulary. I have to make sure to do my homework.
So is there a number? That’s just too hard to say. I always like to say they’re going to strike gold 50% of the time, but I will tell you this. If your guys are already buying leads they’re already in the field. If they want to take the initiative and buy Medicare Supplement leads, then great, they’re just doubling their chances, but if they’re just doing what they’re already doing all they have to do is just do the “By the way.” I would also have these guys wear a pin, “Ask me about Medicare.” Even if the lead says, “Well why are you wearing that?” You can say, “Oh, I’m glad you asked,” and let the conversation flow.
Back to trying to answer your question, let’s say that they’ve got two appointments a day, that’s 10… it’s really hard to say. Yeah, I’m just running numbers, I’m trying to think in my area.
DD: I guess the point is I know as a guy that’s strictly final expense that 9 out of 10 of my buyers, just the people who buy, are all on Medicare and the vast majority of them are on Advantage plans. So we know that if you do enough activity and you’re targeting the right group of people, you’ll just stumble across business opportunities.
It’s just out there. This is a fantastic strategy because not only are you already selling the final expense opportunities, but you’re by default, 90% of the time if not greater, already in front of Medicare holders and if you can’t help now you can help later.
That’s the great thing about this. The opportunity is either immediate or it’s short term, but it’s always there. Wait a little while if you have to, but you can always go back and help them out.
LM: Then the other thing is if you work this right, “Hey, how can I help your friends that may not be in the plan that you’re in?” Maybe you’re in the best possible plan. I’m going to reaffirm the decision that you made to enroll in that plan. “David, you did a great job. This is the plan I would have recommended myself.
Awesome choice for you to choose this plan, but I can bet you not all your buddies are on this plan. Here’s a stack of my cards. Pass them out. Give them to your friends, have them call me. Let’s get them on your plan because you know how good it is.” So the referrals from that are great.
Then what do you do with the referral? That’s a Medicare final expense thing. You can do your whole presentation for those guys. It’s another way to get your name out there without having to buy or invest more in leads.
DD: Right, and I think you’ll find too that because Medicare is more immediate it’s not like life insurance. Literally, if you think about life insurance it’s totally intangible. You have to die to get it, which means you’ll never see the benefit. You’re just paying a premium for a promise, but nothing substantive.
Medicare is a plan you can actually witness and feel and experience the benefits of and I think that, to an extent, is more on the minds of more people we see and is more referable because there are substantive differences in what you can promise your people. So yeah, definitely.
LM: I agree. You can take care of these guys when you do your Medicare 101 presentation by not aiming above their head with technical terms. You just break it down. I love breaking this thing down. I don’t give them all this technical stuff. I make it easy for them to understand.
So if you teach to their level, make them feel that you know a lot about Medicare, the referrals will come. I do a lot of business during AEP, but the remainder of my year, outside of AEP, are referrals. I just sit by Outlook and hear a ding and, “Hey, can you help my friend out, she just retired?” Well yeah, great, that’s the $500 deal. “I’ll be right over.”
Sell Medicare Advantage Or Medicare Supplements
DD: Last question here for you. Again, we talked earlier about you go in and you do your presentation, then you offer option 1 – Medicare Supplements or option 2 – Medicare Advantage.
Some agents have the mentality that selling only Medicare Supplements is the superior way to do business as opposed to only selling Medicare Advantage. What’s your take on that? Is there one that’s better to sell than the other? Should you sell both?
LM: You should sell both. Again, you don’t want to steer or lead a customer to one product or the other. You don’t want to do that. You want them to tell you, “I want the truck,” or “I want the car.” If they tell you that they want a Supplement, you need to have some Supplement carriers so you can offer that Supplement.
Now remember a Supplement is not sold by itself. It is paired up with a prescription drug plan. You cannot sell a prescription drug plan without being certified, so you have to have your certifications to offer that anyway.
So get a couple of carriers that are strong in your area that are competitive with the Medicare Supplement plans. There’s only two that you’re going to offer, a G or an F. They’re so easy. I do Gs, that’s all I do. I don’t do anymore Fs. F were the way to go years ago, now everybody is doing the G. There’s one little minor difference, but you offer the G.
All you got to do is find the carrier that’s competitive and some of your life carriers offer Med Supps. But you brought up a good point, 90% of the customers have a Medicare Advantage plan.
So 9 out 10 are going to go the Advantage route, 1 out of 10 are going to go the Supplement route. Is it better or worse? Remember it’s a car or truck thing. That’s the easiest way I can explain it. So offer both. I would definitely have both of them.
DD: Hey, if you’re reading this and you’d like to learn more about how to sell Medicare Advantage to either your book of business or if you’re just interested in selling Medicare Advantage as a stand-alone product, here’s what I’d like you to do next.
There’s a link below. Click on it to navigate to another page where you can learn more about how our new Medicare Advantage Agent Program works.
I am partnering with Mr. Luis Moreno to teach agents like you to become effective and successful Medicare Advantage agents, whether you’re trying to cross sell your book of final expense business or if you’re just looking for an avenue to get into the insurance business.
Mr. Moreno has over 900 Medicare Advantage cases written. He has lots of experience training agents new to the business just like you and we have a predefined, well established program to teach a neophyte agent, whether they’re selling something or not in the insurance business, how to be successful at selling Medicare Advantage.
Don’t worry if you don’t have money for leads either, we can show you free and effective ways to generate Medicare Advantage leads immediately. So this is something for those of you who are brand new to the insurance business or you’re already selling final expense and you want to learn how to tap into that renewal income that’s just so important to have in the world of insurance.
So again, here’s what to do next. Click the link below. It’s going to take you to a form to give you more information about our education program. You’ll learn more about this great opportunity and what the next steps may be if you think selling Medicare Advantage is right for you.
Thanks for reading.