With an ever-increasing number of senior citizens out there in need of Medicare coverage, it seems as if selling it should come easily. Unfortunately, many people have little understanding of how Medicare works, making them vulnerable to misleading information. However, it also provides a great sales opportunity during an otherwise slow time of year.
Tis the Season for Medicare Open Enrollment Leads
Holiday festivities and insurance issues rarely mix well, which means the last three months of the year can be a bit sluggish for insurance agents. Conveniently, Medicare open enrollment fits perfectly into the vacuum created by the slowdown in sales of other insurance lines.
Consider the following facts presented by the Kaiser Family Foundation:
Enrollment in Medicare Advantage climbs steadily each year
Medicare Advantage enrollment grew in almost every state in 2015
Medicare Advantage reached 16.8 million beneficiaries as of March 2015 (an increase of more than 1 million people from the previous year)
Medicare Advantage plan enrollment increased by 5.6 million people since the enactment of the Affordable Care Act in 2010
The people and need is out there; the trick, of course, is finding the right leads. For some, selling Medicare coverage seems daunting because of consumers’ economic concerns and the highly competitive market. However, as noted by Lindsay R. Resnick, of the Medicare advisory firm Gorman Health Group, “…successful agents will sharpen their approach to senior selling, find opportunity, and thrive.”
Abiding by Regulations
There are various methods for reaching out to Medicare insurance leads, but the government keeps a tight rein on selling practices. Medicare.gov sets out quite a list of restrictions, including:
Asking for personal information over the phone
Arriving uninvited at a prospect’s home selling or endorsing any Medicare-related product
Calling a person not already a member of the plan
Offering cash or gifts worth more than $15 to join a plan
Enrolling an individual in a plan over the phone unless they call and ask to enroll
Selling a non-health related product such as an annuity or life insurance policy during a Medicare health or drug plan pitch
Making an appointment to discuss a plan without written agreement or a recorded phone discussion
Many agents use lead cards for selling Medigap insurance without violating the contact regulations. However, those cards are also subject to a lot of regulation and some tough scrutiny. For instance, in May 2015, Maine’s Bureau of Insurance issued a bulletin regarding consumer complaints about lead cards, specifically about cards containing untrue, misleading or deceptive language and symbols. The CMS Medicare Marketing Guidelines even require a specific font size for documents such as permission to call cards – at least as large as Times Roman 12.
The Value of Medicare Lead Cards
Ask just about any person over the age of 65 and they will likely tell you about the scads of brochures and lead cards they received as soon as they became eligible for Medicare coverage. The lead cards come in various formats, and when carefully crafted to stay within regulations while obtaining permission to contact the individual, they can be very effective in producing Medicare insurance leads.
As pointed out by the Houston Chronicle, marketing to seniors requires “establishing a relationship, building trust and providing opportunities for growth, learning and interaction.” Additionally, senior citizens are “more likely to read and respond to direct-mail advertising than email and web-based marketing strategies, especially when they are created in large-point type for those with failing eyesight.” What seniors respond to in marketing materials coalesces perfectly with the format for lead cards, which in turn, can provide the information and the required permission to contact some viable leads.
The Downside of Direct Mail
However, generating health insurance leads through direct mail requires a lot of work, from devising the right copy to designing the collateral to identifying the right list of recipients. In addition to the price of postage and materials, all that time and effort also costs money. Reporting on the Direct Marketing Association’s 2012 annual response rate report, ChiefMarketer.com revealed that “while direct mail may generate the highest response rates of all direct marketing vehicles…email posts the highest return on investment,” 28.5 percent compared to direct mail’s 7 percent. Thus, even when dealing with a less-techie demographic, a smart option for many agents is obtaining quality online Medicare leads.
The Future of Medicare
The Kaiser Family Foundation foresees plenty of issues facing Medicare in the future:
“Achieving a reasonable balance among multiple goals for the Medicare program—including keeping Medicare fiscally strong, setting adequate payments to private plans, and meeting beneficiaries’ health care needs—will continue to be a critical issue for policymakers in the future.”
All those future decisions made by policy makers means plenty of changes on the horizon to keep agents on their toes when it comes to Medicare open enrollment leads.