Principal: 5 ways your clients can build a better retirement program

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Recently several Principal® retirement plan customers were recognized as finalists and one named winner of the 2020 Plan Sponsor of the Year by PLANSPONSOR.

By taking a closer look at these four organizations on this prestigious list, we see some common themes that contributed to their success. For most, it means working with a financial professional or third-party administrator and taking a role in helping employees live their best life in retirement.

Consider using organizations like these as inspiration for your clients to take a closer look at their retirement plans. These five insights and action items may help start the conversation.

  1. Stay engaged – Those recognized devote a considerable amount of time to discussing their plan and how to make improvements. For most it starts at the top with an actively involved CEO, which typically trickles down to everyone else.

    Action item: If they aren’t already, suggest your clients schedule regular bi-weekly or weekly meetings to stay on top of plan changes and metrics. Introduce the idea of inviting the CEO or other senior management periodically.

  2. Consistent, customized communication – In order to really move the needle on savings, employees need a steady stream of information. Because a participant nearing retirement has different concerns than a younger employee, targeting communications based on life stage can also make a big difference. Communications must also evolve as needs change.

    Action item: Review how your clients are communicating during COVID-19. Remind leaders that employees may need to hear from them even more often with some extra reassurance.

  3. Make it automatic – Most on the list have used automated plan features in some way to help drive employee participation. Each plan looks a little different, but several finalist plans include:
    • Automatic enrollment—with a default deferral typically 6% or higher
    • Automatic annual increase—typically 1% up to 12% or more
    • Matching employer contribution that’s beyond the typical 3%
    • Automatic reenrollment sweep

    Action item: Conduct a plan review with a specific focus on automated features. Show how participation and savings can increase by making changes.

  4. Keep it simple – Leaders of these organizations find ways to save time using tools, resources, and relying on others. For some that comes in the form of an all-in-one retirement solution including several plan types with the same service provider.

    Action item: Find out if your clients have other retirement programs that could benefit from consolidating services under one provider. Remind clients how this can save time and possibly money with simplified administration.

  5. Change your view – Although the cost and time spent to offer a best-in-class retirement program can seem overwhelming, the organizations highlighted think about it differently. While they genuinely want their employees to enjoy a comfortable retirement, leaders consider the retirement program a way to stand out as an employer of choice to help recruit top talent, too.

    Action item: As you meet with your clients, talk about the benefits of using a best-in-class retirement program as a recruiting tool for top talent in their area.

This article originally appeared at

Mutual of Omaha: Critical Illness Policy PDFs Now Being Emailed

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Mutual of Omaha is now sending emails containing links to PDF copies of all critical illness policies. The email will be sent within 24 hours of policy issue and will be sent directly to the client, the writing agent, the top level marketer and any authorized user designated by the writing agent or the top-level marketer with full access to Sales Professional Access.

This email process will be in addition to the current paper policy output. The email will contain a link to our Secure Message Portal system allowing access to view the PDF of the policy. Note: This process does not include e-signatures. However, delivery requirements and delivery receipts can be printed and wet signed or electronically signed using one of our approved vendors.

Delivery requirements for critical illness can either be mailed in to Mutual of Omaha with the envelope provided in the paper policy or sent via email to (recommended).

If you have any questions, please contact your sales director.

This article originally appeared at

Mutual of Omaha: Paying for Out-of-Pocket Costs

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We all know someone who has received a cancer diagnosis, and in today’s world, a diagnosis doesn’t mean all hope is lost. With a Cancer Insurance policy from Mutual of Omaha, you can help your clients focus on their recovery by offering them a lump-sum payment that can be used for any out-of-pocket expense including:

  • Replacing lost income
  • High deductibles
  • Everyday expenses like bill and groceries

Use the flyer to show your clients how Cancer Insurance can help fill their coverage gaps.

*Not all benefits are approved in all states.

This article originally appeared at

Lloyds of London: Life Solutions – Niche Product Opportunities

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Since the days of Life Insurance Awareness Month are waning, we would like to take the opportunity to share some niche products found in the specialty markets that may provide you with opportunities to find solutions to your cases that have been languishing or seem dead on arrival.

Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, there has been a great influx of cases coming onto the market where traditional life products aren’t an available fit.  Older age clients and prospects with impaired health histories or hazardous risk backgrounds are finding little to any help from many U.S. carriers.  Coverage postponements have become more common at this time, and the need for outside-the-box, shorter-term solutions is quite evident.

One such accommodation is a simple financial protection vehicle that is often scoffed at by life insurance purveyors, but can sometimes be the best solution for hard-to-place cases.  I’m talking about standalone accidental death insurance.  Of course the product doesn’t provide comprehensive protection and shouldn’t be prescribed in lieu of traditional term or whole life insurances, but when client demographics don’t fit a traditional mold or when supplemental short term coverage is necessary, accidental death is an affordable alternative that often saves the day.

AD policies are simplified-issue and can be underwritten and approved in a few days, providing much needed death benefits to clients with health problems or clients living abroad or clients with hazardous avocations like auto racing or private piloting.  The reasons to look to a high-limit accidental death policy are numerous, and we are constantly seeing this flexible product being the agent’s perfect tool at the right time.

Another niche solution for the life market that has taken the industry by storm is failure to survive insurance also known as contract protection insurance.  The basic product is similar in format to term insurance for third-party applications.  Its main purpose is to address key person, buy/sell, contract guarantee and business loan situations where there is a financial obligation to indemnify a business contract upon the death of an individual (usually the business owner or a key employee) with insurance.  It cannot be used as an alternative to personal-benefit life insurance, but is commonly employed to cover divorce decrees and alimony/child support court orders.

Medically sub-standard cases find easy solutions amongst the product line as the underwriting guidelines are more flexible than those of traditional life carriers, allowing for medical exclusions and coverage for persons with infirmities like cardiac, body mass and diabetes issues.  It’s also optimal for prospects with drug, alcohol and mental health concerns.

What make failure to survive insurance stand apart is that it can be underwritten quickly.  The average turnaround time from receipt of application to the approval of coverage is usually no more than several business days.  Underwriters offer simplified issuance of the coverage without requirements like intrusive medical exams, blood draws and urinalyses.

The fast underwriting period allows policy owners to meet the strict and time-sensitive deadlines mandated by lending institutions on loan agreements.  Failure to survive can also be extremely useful when the underwriting of a traditional term product is holding-up a business deal relying upon the insurance for a corporate buy/sell or investment agreement.

Although traditional life insurance is generally preferred, it is not always available to every client in every circumstance.  Niche products like accidental death and failure to survive have garnered huge followings in recent years because the products often afford opportunities that traditional life carriers have denied or cannot accommodate.

This article originally appeared at

Anthem (BCBS): Wisconsin Medicare Supplement Modernized Plan Rate Action, Effective January 1, 2021

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Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield (Anthem) has received approval for our 2021 Medicare Supplement AICI Modernized plan premium amounts for the Wisconsin Basic Plan with Optional Riders, effective January 1, 2021. Approval for the BCBSWI Modernized and Pre-Modernized plans is still pending with the WI Office of the Commissioner of Insurance Department.

Linked is the interim Outline of Coverage with approved rates for the AICI Modernized plans, effective January 1, 2021. Please note that this interim Outline of Coverage is for effective dates of January 1, 2021, and after. For effective dates in 2020, you can continue to use the current kits. Please order small quantities of the current sales kits.


  • AICI Entity – Only WI AICI plans are marketed; BCBSWI plans are closed.
  • NTM Discount – The $15 New to Medicare Discount is offered with the WI AICI Plans.
  • Rate Guarantee – WI AICI plans have a 12-month rate guarantee. Plans renew on members’ anniversary coverage effective dates.
  • SilverSneakers is offered as a value-added program to our currently marketed plans for both our new and existing members.
  • MACRA (Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2015) created new rules for those who become Medicare-eligible on or after January 1, 2020, due to age or disability (defined as ‘newly eligible’). Those individuals who are newly eligible for Medicare are prohibited from purchasing the optional Part B Deductible Rider. Anthem offers the Part B Deductible Rider in WI and will continue to make the Part B Deductible Rider available to those eligible for Medicare prior toJanuary 1, 2020.

As soon as we have the new Medicare amounts, we will update the Outline of Coverage with the 2021 rates and the 2021 Medicare amounts, and let you know when you can order larger supplies of the sales kits for your 2021 sales.

If you have any questions about this information, please contact your Sales Director, Regional Sales Manager, or Agent Services at 1-800-633-4368.

This article originally appeared at

Aetna: Your AEP Resources

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Did you know that you can submit Medicare Supplement applications with a January 1, 2021 effective date as early as October 1, 2020?

The Medicare Annual Enrollment Period (AEP) is October 15 through December 7, but you don’t have to wait until then to submit your Medicare Supplement applications. Get started by using Aetna Quote & Enroll, our online enrollment tool.

Review your AEP resources

We’ve put helpful guides and links to frequently used tools all in one place, so you can quickly access the information you need during AEP. Whether you’re a new agent or have been around for a few years, it’s easy to get caught up in all of the noise about AEP.

Make sure you’re ready to sell, learn about about the online tools available to you, and more:

Save this site: Your AEP resources

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CMS: Trump Administration Announces Historically Low Medicare Advantage Premiums and New Payment Model to Make Insulin Affordable Again for Seniors

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Ahead of the annual Medicare Open Enrollment, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), under the leadership of President Trump, announced today that average 2021 premiums for Medicare Advantage plans are expected to decline 34.2 percent from 2017 while plan choice, benefits, and enrollment continue to increase. The Medicare Advantage average monthly premium will be the lowest in 14 years (since 2007) for the over 26 million Medicare beneficiaries projected to enroll in a Medicare Advantage plan for 2021. Additionally, for the first time, seniors who use insulin will have over 1,600 Medicare Advantage and Part D prescription drug plans to choose from that will offer insulin at no more than a $35 monthly copay beginning in January.

This news comes as the agency releases the benefit and cost-sharing information for Medicare Advantage and Part D prescription drug plans for the 2021 calendar year. Medicare Advantage plans are private health plans that cover all Medicare benefits plus provide additional benefits, while Part D plans are private health plans that provide prescription drug coverage for seniors. Specific highlights include:

  • The Medicare Advantage average monthly plan premium is expected to decrease 11 percent to $21.00 (estimated) in 2021 from an average of $23.63 in 2020. Since 2017, the average monthly Medicare Advantage premium has decreased by an estimated 34.2 percent. This is the lowest that the average monthly premium for a Medicare Advantage plan has been since 2007. In some states including Alabama, Nevada, Michigan, and Kentucky, beneficiaries will see average premium decreases of over 50 percent since 2017. The trend of lower Medicare Advantage premiums means that beneficiaries have saved nearly $1.5 billion in premium costs since 2017.
  • Beneficiaries will have more plan choices, with about 2,100 more Medicare Advantage plans operating in 2021 than in 2017, a 76.6 percent increase. Overall, beneficiaries can choose from more than 4,800 Medicare Advantage plans during 2021 open enrollment.
  • The average number of Medicare Advantage plan choices per county will increase from about 39 plans in 2020 to 47 plans in 2021. This represents an increase of 78.5 percent since 2017. The number of plan options in rural counties has increased to 2,900 in 2021 from about 2,450 in 2020 (about an 18 percent increase), as a result of flexibilities we gave to plans on benefit coverage and building their provider networks.
  • Medicare Advantage continues to be popular, with enrollment projected to increase to an all-time high of 26.9 million beneficiaries from current enrollment of 24.4 million. The projected enrollment for 2021 represents a 44 percent increase in Medicare Advantage enrollment since 2017. About 42 percent of beneficiaries are expected to be enrolled in Medicare Advantage for 2021. Starting in 2021, beneficiaries with End Stage Renal Disease will now have the option to enroll in a Medicare Advantage plan, giving them more affordable Medicare coverage choices.
  • As previously announced, the average basic Part D premium will be approximately $30.50 in 2021. The trend of lower Part D premiums, which have decreased by 12 percent since 2017, means that beneficiaries have saved nearly $1.9 billion in premium costs over that time. Further, Part D continues to be an extremely popular program, with enrollment increasing by 16.7 percent since 2017.
  • Since 2017, beneficiaries have saved approximately $3.4 billion in combined Medicare Advantage and Part D premium costs.

“Once again, President Trump has delivered tangible results for America’s seniors,” said CMS Administrator Seema Verma. “Today’s announcement confirms that market competition works. Historically low premiums, massive savings on insulin, and more supplemental benefits represent the welcome fruit of the creative, patient-oriented policies that this administration has made its calling card. Medicare beneficiaries will feel the difference – in their health as well as their pocketbook.

With over 1,600 prescription drug plans across the nation, for the first time, seniors who use insulin will be able to choose a plan in their area that offers insulin savings through the Part D Senior Savings Model and provides coverage of a broad set of insulins, each for no more than $35 per month. Beneficiaries will be able to find prescription drug plans that are participating in the Part D Senior Savings Model in the 2021 plan year through the Medicare Plan Finder on during the annual open enrollment period this Fall. CMS will add a new “Insulin Savings” filter to easily display plans that will offer capped out-of-pocket costs for insulin.

Based on flexibilities that the Trump Administration provided Medicare Advantage and Part D plans over the last three years, beneficiaries will continue to have an even greater number of plan choices with new types of extra benefits that aren’t usually covered in traditional Medicare. Highlights of benefits for 2021 include:

  • Over 94 percent of Medicare Advantage plans will offer additional telehealth benefits reaching 20.7 million beneficiaries, up from about 58 percent of plans offering telehealth benefits in 2020. In 2019, CMS implemented legislation signed by President Trump to give seniors enrolled in Medicare Advantage plans access to additional telehealth benefits from the convenience of their homes.
  • For the first time in Medicare, 53 Medicare Advantage plans will offer increased access to palliative care and integrated hospice care to their enrollees through the Medicare Advantage Value-Based Insurance Design Model.
  • More opportunities for seniors to choose from Medicare Advantage plans that provide extra healthcare benefits to keep people healthy. In 2021, about 730 plans will provide about 3 million Medicare Advantage enrollees with these additional types of supplemental benefits, such as adult day health services, caregiver support services, in-home support services, therapeutic massage or home-based palliative care, that are primarily health related under a new interpretation adopted beginning with 2019.
  • Expanding access to reduced cost sharing to benefits for enrollees with certain conditions, such as diabetes and congestive heart failure, due to the agency’s reinterpretation of the uniformity requirement in 2018. About 500 plans in 2021 will offer up to 2.5 million Medicare Advantage enrollees with particular conditions with access to lower copayments or additional benefits such as meals and transportation.
  • About 920 plans reaching 4.3 million beneficiaries will offer non-primarily health related benefits tailored to people with chronic conditions that may help them better manage their disease(s). Examples of these benefits include pest control, home cleaning services, meal home delivery, and transportation for non-medical reasons such as trips to the grocery store.
  • More than 440 Medicare Advantage plans will be participating in the 2021 Medicare Advantage Value-Based Insurance Design Model, with over 1.6 million beneficiaries projected to receive additional benefits such as healthy foods and meals, transportation support, reduced cost-sharing and rewards and incentives aligned with Part D drugs. This represents a nearly a 20 times increase in Medicare Advantage enrollees benefiting from the model compared to 2019.
  • CMS will release a request for applications, including for the hospice benefit component, for the Medicare Advantage Value-Based Insurance Design Model 2022 plan year later this fall.

CMS anticipates updating with the 2021 Medicare Advantage and Part D premiums and cost-sharing information and releasing the Star Ratings for Medicare Advantage and Part D plans in early October. Plan quality has improved in recent years, where in 2020, the average star rating for all Medicare Advantage plans with prescription drug coverage has improved to 4.16 out of 5 stars, increasing from 4.02 in 2017, and the average star rating for a stand-alone prescription drug plan has improved from 3.34 in 2019 to 3.50 in 2020.

Medicare Open Enrollment begins on October 15, 2020, and ends on December 7, 2020. During this time, Medicare beneficiaries can compare coverage options like Original Medicare and Medicare Advantage and choose health and drug plans for 2021. Medicare health and drug plan costs and covered benefits can change from year to year, so people with Medicare should look at their coverage choices and decide on the options that best meet their health needs. They can visit (, call 1-800-MEDICARE, or contact their State Health Insurance Assistance Program. People who want to keep their current Medicare coverage do not need to re-enroll.

This communication originally appeared in an email to CMS’ distribution network.