With over 370,000 seniors in Minnesota likely to be affected by the Cost Plan transition, if you have been selling Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota, Medica or HealthPartners Cost Plans, now is the time to start considering the important decisions you have to make.
We are hopeful that an extension to this year’s AEP and Guaranteed Issue periods will be granted, allowing time to properly educate and guide your clients on their options. Important conversations are taking place with our Federal legislators to potentially provide a longer period to educate and re-enroll your clients. However, as of today, on 1/1/2019 your clients that have not enrolled in a new Supplement or Advantage plan may only have ‘Original Medicare’ with or without Prescription Drug coverage. You’ll need an effective strategy to retain your clients and if you get this right, you will have opportunities to gain new ones.
BCBS, Medica and HealthPartners also want to retain the very same clients. IT’s important to remember that Minnesota carriers will provide significant support to enroll your clients into their new Medicare Supplement and Medicare Advantage plans while at the same time keeping you as Agent of Record and whole with your commissions (at the new higher rates). They will do this with call centers that can handle the volume, education and enrollment requirements. For your clients that ‘Like their Carrier and want to Keep their Carrier’ this may be your best option.
If the Minnesota carrier’s call centers do the ‘heavy lifting’ for your clients wishing to remain with them you can focus on gaining new clients and those wishing to change carriers.
The key is communication and education
Keep in mind that your clients are likely to be inundated by out-of-state call centers and agents in the coming months. If you have not reassured them they are in good hands and have a plan, you will lose out.
For clients choosing to remain with their current carrier we suggest:
- Educating your clients on how Medicare Supplements and Medicare Advantage plans work and guide them in making informed decisions on which is most suitable for their needs. In this way, once the time comes to enroll, they already understand the main differences between Advantage and Supplement plans. Across the USA we see 60% of seniors choosing a Supplement and 40% choosing an Advantage plan (Advantage plans are gaining in popularity every year).
- You must communicate with all your clients to understand their wishes and needs. If you believe they wish to remain with their current carrier and are ready to make a choice, you should let them know they will be contacted by BCBS, Medica or HealthPartners directly and reassure them that you will still be their agent for service. A recommendation from you will go a long way.
If your clients wish to change to a new carrier, then ensure you schedule plenty of time to educate and enroll them in their new plan choice. Depending on their choice, your clients will need to understand how networks, portability, cost sharing, deductibles, per diems, balance billing, Medicare assignment and drug coverage will work. This education will be important whatever choice they make, as plan design and cost sharing may be significantly different from their Cost Plan. Education will reduce the risk of costly financial mistakes.
Whether your clients choose their existing carrier or a new one, you should ensure you have considered the need for Prescription Drug, Dental, Travel Medical and Indemnity Coverage.
The list of Medicare Advantage, Supplement and Prescription Drug carriers available to you from LeClair Group includes:
- Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota
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Contact Sales@LeClairGroup.com with all of your Medicare questions.