This guest blog post was written by Bob Brzyski, Vice President of Marketing and New Business at Pinnacle Financial Services, Inc. Pinnacle Financial Services, Inc. is an FMO (Field Marketing Office) that works with its agent partners to provide the best in services and technology by making insurance processing easier and more accessible.
Getting Started with Medicare
So, you are thinking of getting started with Medicare sales. Like any business, the first steps are always the most challenging. Where to start? Who to call? Am I going to do individual sales or have an agency? In this article, we will take a 30,000-foot view of some critically important items to consider.
Starting a Medicare Business
As with any business, building a Medicare business can be difficult. Understand that it is possible to grow a successful Medicare business without Medicare sales experience, but there will be a longer learning curve. If you are currently selling annuities, life insurance, or even P&C, your sales background will translate over to the Medicare market. The opportunities in Medicare are endless once you decide to offer Medicare as the primary or part of your overall practice. Let’s talk about Medicare in general.
The Parts of Medicare
Medicare can be difficult for beneficiaries to understand. Consulting with a knowledgeable expert when navigating the Medicare maze is of utmost importance for clients. If you are going to make Medicare a part of your practice, knowing the benefits associated with Medicare is a must.
- Medicare Part A: Hospital Insurance that helps cover inpatient care in hospitals, skilled nursing facilities, hospice, and home health care.
- Medicare Part B: Medical Insurance that helps cover doctors’ services, outpatient care, and many preventative services, such as vaccinations.
- Medicare Part C: aka Medicare Advantage Plans, these are health plan options run by private insurance companies who contract with Medicare covering Medicare Parts A and B and additional benefits, such as prescription drugs and possibly dental, vision, and hearing benefits, for example.
- Medicare Part D: prescription drug coverage is run by private insurance companies approved and under contract with Medicare. It helps cover the cost of prescriptions and may help lower drug costs.
- Medicare Supplements are standardized by Medicare and cover all or part of the gaps in original Medicare Parts A and B. Clients can choose to purchase a Medigap plan from a private insurance company.
Building a Medicare Agency
If your goal is to build an agency, deciding on a payment structure for your Medicare insurance agents in the field selling is a big decision. In Medicare, there are direct pay agents and what are known as licensed-only agents or LOAs. So, will you have the insurance carriers pay your Medicare agents, or do you want all commissions paid to your agency and then pay the agents?
Some things to consider in making this decision is what other value adds you are providing your agents.
- Are you giving or co-oping a Medicare lead program?
- Are you allowing them to use your office space for doing business?
- Do you want more flexibility in what you are paying your agents?
- Are you equipped to handle the accounting/commissions processing if you are wanting to pay your agents?
Medicare Agent Training
Training Medicare agents, whether new or seasoned, is a key feature of a successful Medicare agency. The Medicare industry is ever-changing. New CMS rules are the norm. New Medicare carriers are always entering the market. New technology can be daunting for those without the support and training to stay at the forefront of the Medicare sales industry.
Technology, in general, is something that, as a Medicare agency, you will need. Keeping your team efficient and successful takes dedication and investment. If you are not moving forward, you are moving backward. Technology is a must to grow a successful Medicare business.
A critical decision you need to make is what FMO, field marketing organization, you choose to partner with. Let’s talk about what an FMO can do for your agency’s success.
The Medicare market has grown by leaps and bounds over the past several years. Independent insurance agents have plenty of options when searching for the best Medicare FMO to help them grow their Medicare business.
When searching for your FMO partner, you will hear plenty of claims such as “The Best Medicare FMO” or “Best IMO.” But what does it take to truly be considered “The Best FMO?” And what factors do you need to consider when making this decision for your Medicare agency?
Consider if the FMO provides you with:
- Access to Medicare quoting tools
- Online contracting tools
- Lead program options
- Top Medicare commissions
- Ongoing agent training (both in-person and remote)
- Free CE (continuing education) credit options
- Access to a cloud-based CRM system, such as AgencyBloc, to manage your business
The decisions you make in steering your Medicare business will make all the difference. Having key partners can be the difference between living and dying in the early years.
Due your due diligence and find the right FMO to partner with your Medicare agency. Interview multiple organizations and ensure they offer the tools, resources, and training you need to find success with Medicare.
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