How to Get Your Clients Help with Medicare
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Should you be comfortable referring your clients to CPAs or other professionals who also handle annuities, investments and insurance?
The answer is “maybe.”
When you make a referral to a health insurance professional to “handle Medicare” for your client, you may not realize what could happen next. You may not fully understand all that “could be sold.”
Medicare is the red-headed stepchild that’s long been ignored – until now.
Our firm works with financial advisors, CPAs, broker dealers, credit unions and their clients. The Medicare conversation is elevating its stature of importance along the likes of Social Security and more. Have you noticed the uptick in Medicare webinar invitations arriving in your inbox?
I’ll share with you who else is noticing the webinars, postcards, invitations to steak dinners and such.
And, the health insurance agent community.
Your clients hardly have a chance to make a good Medicare decision with the information flying at them from all angles. Family, friends, neighbors, colleagues, the human resources department, conflicting advice from the Social Security Administration, postcards, Joe Namath on TV pitching Medicare plans, the incessant robo-calls and more.
Unless you are wading through the Medicare sign-up and product-selection process yourself, you have no idea what your clients are up against. And, these are educated and intelligent people; this process is confusing and frustrating. Be your client’s first line of defense in the help area.
If you’re not their first line, they’ll defer to the second. An agent community that in all fairness has good agents and bad agents. Just like in your world.
An agent I know told me last year that he was amazed that each time he went to a person’s home to help them with Medicare, he walked out with a $100,000 annuity sale. My response? “Interesting; that’s never happened to me – ever.” I’d gather you’re thinking like I am. He asks to see retirement statements and the talk swerves over to retirement planning. When I have phone consultations with people about Medicare and their health, an annuity isn’t connected to the conversation. In thousands of phone calls, it’s never happened. Never once.
I watch online agent communities where the comments are posted such as: “one appointment (a couple), 12 policies, $2,800 commission.” Guess whose client is being exploited? Does one person really need six policies?
The world is catching on to the fact that people need help with this beast called Medicare. Do I need to get it? How much will it cost? How do I start? How do I transition from my employer plan? What else do I need to buy to round out my health insurance? How do I handle pricey medications? The questions are endless; the help is more than needed for this sector of the population.
If you are currently referring Medicare questions and business to someone that “can do” Medicare, investigate a few things on behalf of your client.
- Are you sending your client to a Medicare-only firm? There are some great ones in various places in the country. We do Medicare only. That means no long-term care, no life insurance, no annuity sales. Nothing but Medicare and Medicare-affiliated products. Ask what the agency is able to sell.
- Relay to your client that they don’t need to allow someone into their home to obtain help with Medicare. We see many situations that turn out badly.
- Ask your referral source how many Medicare plans he/she writes each month. If the answer is “a few,” that is not a specialist.
- Ask your referral source if they discuss both Medigap and Medicare Advantage plans with clients. We see a fair number of agents discussing primarily Medicare Advantage plans. Why? Higher compensation to the agent. The client will be poorly served not learning about all options available to him/her.
- Understand that with Medicare, pre-existing conditions issues can affect your client, and this is an area where people are truly shocked. Don’t believe the TV advertisements that imply “you can change your plan every year.” People are hurt often by this misunderstood piece of Medicare planning.
So, who is an ideal referral source for your Medicare asking clients?
It’s straightforward. We all want to work with people that we know, like and trust. With Medicare, you should add a firm that will:
- educate your clients;
- not pester your clients for purely sales;
- be there to service your client long term during their Medicare years; and
- keep you, their advisor, in the loop. (We view you as our client as well as your client is as our client…)
How does a firm achieve those things? By teaching, counseling and enrolling. Look for a website that is full of free information, or a YouTube channel, or no-fee phone consultations that are scheduled constantly. Avoid firms that travel from home to home, and look for those that are available via phone, email and text. Look for webinars and seminars. Firms should communicate in 21st Century manners. The 65-year-old of today has been on the internet for 25 years; they do just fine.
Look for firms that have Medicare clients across the country.
End result? Good firms get referred over and over for “helping” their core market and staying in their lane.
Not rocket science.
Joanne Giardini-Russell is a Medicare guru with Giardini Medicare (formerly Boomer Health Group), which was created to help those approaching Medicare eligibility or those currently enrolled in Medicare better understand what they are purchasing and how their choices may affect their long-term outcomes regarding care, finances, etc.