Tag Archive for: medicare advantage

What Is a Medicare Marketing Organization?

Due to the aging population and rising healthcare costs, Medicare spending is projected to reach $1.8 trillion by 2031, up from $829 billion in 2021—an increase of 117%.

That provides a lot of potential for any agent who wants to sell Medicare insurance. Yet, selling Medicare can be pretty complicated for independent insurance agents, simply because Medicare itself can be quite complicated.

That’s why working with a Medicare Marketing Organization, also known as an Independent Marketing Organization (IMO), can be helpful. Below, we dive deeper into what an IMO is, how it can help independent agents succeed in selling Medicare, and what to look for when choosing a Medicare IMO.

What Is a Medicare IMO?

A Medicare IMO is an organization that works to provide support for independent insurance agents as they look to build their businesses. Unlike captive agents who work for one insurance company—and are supplied with all the support, training, and tools they need to do their job—independent agents are on their own.

In essence, independent agents are small business owners; this provides many benefits, such as the ability to set your hours, build your business the way you want to, sell the type of insurance you want, and be your own boss.

However, challenges to being an independent agent include not having a large organization on your side providing you with constant support; this is where a Medicare IMO can step in.

A good Medicare IMO will provide you with all the training, marketing, recruiting, contracting, and support you need to run a successful operation. In addition, an IMO ensures that independent agents are never truly “on their own.”

In addition to all these vital resources, IMOs have established contracts with Medicare carriers. The independent agents who work with the IMO can then gain access to the Medicare plans that some of the top insurance carriers in the country offer.

Here are some of the main benefits a good IMO can provide independent agents, specifically regarding Medicare.

Insight into Plans

Medicare can be quite complicated to understand, as there are four “parts.” For example, original Medicare consists of Part A and Part B, providing hospital and outpatient medical coverage. Entering 2023, there were 35 million Americans subscribed to these plans.

Part C, also known as Medicare Advantage, is private insurance that includes not just Original Medicare but also some coverage that Parts A and B don’t have. For example, Medicare Advantage includes some coverage for prescription drugs, dental, vision, and other medical care. Part D is the prescription drug program and can be added to Original Medicare plans.

Knowing what makes up all the parts of Medicare—who’s eligible for what, what the different plans offer, how much the plans cost, etc.—can be challenging for even the most experienced agents. Experienced Medicare IMOs provide insight to independent agents so they can become more knowledgeable about the products they can sell.

Access to Plans

The Kaiser Family Foundation reported recently that the average beneficiary of Medicare has 43 Medicare Advantage plans they can choose from in 2023, 35 of which include coverage for prescription drugs. That’s a lot of plans, to say the least.

Each of those plans offers slightly different coverages and costs. As independent agents know, being able to provide multiple insurance plan options helps to attract a broader base of customers.

Yet, contracting with the multiple insurance carriers that offer those 43 Medicare Advantage plans can be challenging; this is another significant benefit of working with a Medicare IMO. Experienced Medicare IMOs will already have Medicare Advantage contracts so that independent agents who work with them can immediately offer them to their customers. A Medicare IMO also removes a lot of painstaking work at obtaining these contracts with insurance carriers, allowing them to hit the ground running selling the plans.

Legitimacy

Customers today want to know they can trust the people they work with. However, building trust is challenging for any small business owner, especially for independent insurance agents. Fortunately, an experienced Medicare IMO can give you that legitimacy to build trust with current and prospective customers. This is done in several ways.

First, the simple fact that you will have multiple Medicare Advantage plans for your customers to choose from will add to your legitimacy. When you can show them available plans from some of the top Medicare insurance carriers in the country, they will know you aren’t a “chop shop.”

In addition, the marketing and sales support you will receive from your Medicare IMO will help you build a solid brand for yourself. You won’t be going it alone. And, after you build this brand, you will be recognizable as you use the sales tools you’ve received from your Medicare IMO to land new customers.

What to Look for When Choosing a Medicare IMO

Now that you’ve decided that working with a Medicare IMO would benefit you, it’s essential to understand what you should look for when searching for the best fit. You’ll likely have a lot of choices in this area, so whittling down the list to the most crucial ones is vital, as is understanding how to vet a Medicare IMO properly.

Insurance Carriers

One of the most critical factors in choosing a Medicare IMO is the insurance carriers that they offer. The IMO you work with should provide an excellent selection of insurance carriers that you can offer to your clients, including many that are well-known by customers in your area.

In addition to analyzing the carriers, you want to explore the specific products they offer through their IMO. If you don’t believe their products are competitive, they might not be the best IMO for you.

Experience

You should always look for a Medicare IMO that has been in the industry for a while and has the experience you need to grow, learn, and succeed. While it’s not necessarily wrong to work with a new startup company, there are many advantages to working with an IMO that has been around the block.

When a Medicare IMO has been in business for a while, it gives credence to its success. However, you shouldn’t just look at how long a Medicare IMO has been around; you should also figure out what their track record of success looks like.

Support

Each independent agent will need something a little different. For example, whereas one agent might need extra sales support, another may need more marketing support.

To establish an effective working relationship with a Medicare IMO, aligning your needs with their specific support is essential. To this end, check out the different programs they offer to independent agents to find out whether the company can give you what you need most.

If you have any questions about how the programs work specifically, don’t hesitate to contact someone at the Medicare IMO to gain more insight before applying to work with them.

Testimonials

One of the best ways to understand what it’s like working with a Medicare IMO is to reach out to other independent agents who work with them. Sometimes, you may be able to find colleagues in your market who work with Medicare IMOs. Other times, you can access these agents through the IMO itself.

Don’t ignore the importance of what insurance carriers think of the Medicare IMO, too. You can always contact them directly to see if the IMO you’re considering is worth partnering with.

Join the Good Life!

You’ll have many choices when searching for Medicare marketing organizations to partner with. However, choosing the right one is essential to running a successful independent insurance agent business.

Here at GLIA, our team has years of experience working with independent insurance agents and the leading Medicare Advantage carriers in the U.S.

Partnering with us gives you access to these carriers and the impressive suite of tools, training, and support we provide to all agents. To learn more and get started offering Medicare Advantage plans from some of the top carriers in the country, contact us today.

Again, thank you for visiting our blog, and we hope to work with you soon.

How to Sell Medicare Advantage Plans: Your Complete Guide

Selling Medicare Advantage plans can prove to be highly lucrative for insurance agents. The US Census Bureau, for instance, estimates that by 2030, every Baby Boomer will be 65 years old or older. Five years after that, it’s estimated that 78 million people in America will be 65 or older. The result is an increased demand for Medicare Advantage plans.

Below, we provide a complete guide so you can learn how to sell Medicare Advantage plans to serve the growing need in your community.

What Is Medicare Advantage?

People have multiple options for how they can get Medicare coverage. One way is to choose traditional Medicare Part A and Medicare Part B coverage. These are offered directly through the government.

Another option is to choose a Medicare Advantage Plan, sometimes called Part C of MA Plans. These insurance plans are offered by private insurance companies that Medicare has approved to sell the plans, and as such, must follow the rules that Medicare sets.

Many people today prefer Medicare Advantage plans over Plan A and Plan B (known as Original Medicare) because they can bundle different insurance services together. For example, they can get hospital insurance (Part A), medical insurance (Part B), and prescription drug coverage (Part D).

In addition, Medicare Advantage provides coverage for some other items that the Original Medicare plans don’t cover—this includes some dental, hearing, and vision services. Some plans even let people choose services catered to their specific needs, such as transportation to and from doctor visits and other services that promote overall wellness.

As an insurance agent, this provides an excellent opportunity to help your customers get the specific coverage they need. They won’t be choosing just from an off-the-shelf, pre-designed plan. Instead, depending on which insurance companies you can sell from, you can help your customers customize a Medicare Advantage plan specific to their needs. Indeed, finding the right plan for your clients—one that works to minimize the stress of doctor visits—can make a big difference in someone’s life!

How Medicare Advantage Plans Work

Private companies that offer Medicare Advantage plans will receive a fixed monthly payment from Medicare for each of the plans they provide customers. In return, private insurance companies have to follow Medicare’s rules.

Each plan itself can alter how much the out-of-pocket expenses will bill. They also can set rules for whether insured need to obtain a referral before they visit a specialist, and whether you have to visit doctors and providers in a specific network.

People with Medicare Advantage plans will have a maximum amount to pay in out-of-pocket expenses each year. Once they reach that amount, all covered services under Original Medicare will be covered entirely.

Why Sell Medicare Advantage Plans

Medicare Advantage Plans not only provide a lot of flexibility for customers, but they also provide the same for insurance agents. The market is highly competitive among insurance companies that offer them, which results in agents receiving relatively high commissions when they sell these plans.

On average, you can earn $287 per year in commission for each Medicare Advantage plan you sell that replaces a plan already in place. If you can sell a Medicare Advantage plan to someone who hasn’t had one before, your annual commission can be even higher—on average, $573 per year.

If you can sell these policies—and retain most of your customers from year to year—you could easily make a substantial income on just Medicare Advantage plans alone.

As of 2022, 48% of all eligible people for Medicare had a Medicare Advantage plan. However, that number is only supposed to grow in the coming years as the population ages and healthcare costs continue to rise.

From a customer’s standpoint, figuring out which Medicare Advantage plan to purchase can be pretty challenging. As of 2022, the average person had 39 different Medicare Advantage plans to choose from.

In other words, these Medicare beneficiaries have a strong need to partner with an insurance agent who can help them wade through the very complicated Medicare Advantage market so they can find the plan that’s truly the best for them.

What Licenses Are Needed to Sell Medicare Advantage?

Like selling any other type of insurance, you must obtain specific licenses and certifications to sell Medicare Advantage plans.

First and foremost, you’ll need to be licensed in the state where you primarily sell insurance. The requirements for this will depend on your specific state, so make sure you check your state requirements. If you want to sell insurance in other states, you’ll need a non-resident license that will allow you to sell insurance there, too.

After obtaining these state-specific licenses, you must complete the AHIP (America’s Health Insurance Plans) certification process.

What Is AHIP Certification?

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services requires all insurance agents who want to sell Medicare or Medicaid to complete AHIP certification. This test is required annually, as the rules for Medicare could change yearly.

The training will cover all the basics of Medicare eligibility, the available benefits, the options people have to obtain coverage for prescription drugs, as well as enrollment and marketing compliance and regulations. The AHIP tests cost $175, and agents will get three tries at passing it. All information about obtaining AHIP certification can be found on their website.

FWA Training

In addition to AHIP certification, all agents who want to sell Medicare Advantage plans must complete FWA training, which stands for fraud, waste, and abuse.

This training will teach agents the best industry practices to detect potential Medicare fraud and provide tools they can use to help them do so. It’ll also instruct agents on FWA’s financial and human costs and the proper reporting procedures if they suspect Medicare fraud.

FWA training is available today through the AHIP, making signing up for the courses and obtaining your proper training easier.

Carrier-Specific Training

In addition to the two above certifications, agents will typically have to complete training and certification from the specific carriers from which they will offer Medicare Advantage plans. This training will differ from one carrier to the next, so check with each carrier from which you plan to provide Medicare Advantage plans.

How to Find the Best Medicare Advantage Carriers

Now that you’ve obtained all the necessary licenses and certifications and completed all necessary training, you’ll have to obtain contracts with different Medicare carriers to sell the products they offer. But figuring out where to begin can be challenging with so many different carriers offering Medicare Advantage plans.

An excellent place to start is with any insurance carrier you currently have a contract with. For instance, if you already have an agreement with Insurance Company A to sell property and casualty insurance, you might find out whether they also offer Medicare Advantage plans.

There are many benefits to going this route. First, you already have an established relationship with the company, which could make onboarding, training, and working with them easier. Second, companies with which you already have contracts may not have as many stringent requirements for you to sell Medicare Advantage plans as compared to companies with which you don’t have contracts. Finally, you might be able to earn higher commissions with insurance carriers that you already have a working relationship with.

However, the statement above doesn’t mean you should only approach insurance carriers you already work with. For example, it might be advantageous for your business to offer a wide variety of Medicare Advantage plans to grant your customers the freedom of having many choices.

For example, it could behoove you to contract with insurance carriers that offer Medicare Advantage plans with certain features and coverages that some of your current carriers don’t offer. This would provide your potential customers with more options regarding Medicare Advantage plans, which could expand your potential customer base.

How to Contract with Medicare Advantage Carriers

The process for contracting with Medicare Advantage carriers is very similar to contracting for other insurance plans. First, you’ll need to submit paperwork to the carrier; they will then process it and conduct a background check on you. They’ll also likely analyze your current business, your business plan, and how well they believe they’d fit within your offerings. It could take up to six weeks from when you apply for a contract to when you receive a decision, so keep that in mind for your planning purposes.

A potential challenge you may face is that many insurance carriers offering Medicare Advantage plans don’t like dealing with independent insurance agents directly. As a result, some may even decide not to provide their plans to independent agents. Luckily, if you are an independent insurance agent, you will still have plenty of options to partner with Medicare Advantage carriers. In addition, by partnering with an experienced Insurance Marketing Organization (IMO), you’ll gain access to many of the top insurance carriers in the country.

The Best IMO for Medicare Advantage

Medicare Advantage carriers trust independent agents who work with respectable IMOs since it proves they have been appropriately vetted. This is another reason why working with a trusted IMO can be a huge boon to all independent insurance agents.  

Today, GLIA is among the best IMOs in the market. We have years of experience working with independent insurance agents and the top Medicare Advantage carriers in the country. By partnering with us, you’ll gain access to these carriers and our impressive suite of tools, support, and training we provide to all agents.

Contact us today for more information on how you can get started offering Medicare Advantage plans from the top insurance carriers. Again, thank you for visiting our blog, and we hope to speak with you soon!