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.