You have to go through a few hoops to become a credentialed insurance professional focused on Medicare. On top of your initial state licensing requirements, you need to complete annual testing and re-certifications for each insurance company you work with – every year. You might be tempted to reduce your workload by only contracting with one or two respected Medicare insurance providers – but that would be a mistake. Here’s how successful Medicare agents open doors with a multi-carrier portfolio.
The “Best” Is Subjective
As an insurance agent, you probably get asked about the “best” insurance carrier occasionally. Everyone wants the best coverage, after all – but the best carrier for one person might not be the best for another person. In the end, it’s about finding the best fit for your clients.
Every client has a unique set of circumstances. This is driven by doctor, prescription, and coverage priorities. Your job is to learn about their needs and then find a Medicare plan that will suit them. The more options you have, the more likely you are to find a great match. If, on the other hand, you can only offer plans from one or two carriers, your clients might not be able to get what they need from you – and they might turn to someone else who is better equipped to help them.
How Many Carriers Do You Need?
When it comes to carriers, there is a balance between offering only one carrier and trying to offer every carrier in a market. If you contract with every single carrier offering plans in your area you could be spending 30-40+ hours of annual training.
According to KFF’s Medicare Advantage 2021 Spotlight, the average Medicare beneficiary has eight carriers to choose from, and 27% of beneficiaries have 10 or more carriers to choose from. If there are more carriers than you can contract with, you’ll need to select the ones that will provide your clients with the options they want. It is ideal to represent the top 2-3 major brands for HMO, PPO, Med Supp, and Part D. Having extra options to show your clients will help prevent them from going directly to a carrier or with another agent.
You should have the biggest carriers covered. KFF says that UnitedHealthcare and Humana had the most Medicare enrollees in 2020: Humana offers plans in 84% of counties and UnitedHealthcare offers plans in 66% of counties. Also, look out for changes from year to year. For example, many carriers have increased their plan options in 2021. Centene now has plans in 1,129 counties, Blue Cross Blue Shield Affiliate has plans in 1,181 counties, and CVS Health has plans in 1,759 counties.
But don’t just pay attention to the big players on the national level. You should also look at the market in your state and county, and you should see which carriers are available to you. In Arizona, for example, there are several other strong options like Bright Health, Devoted and Imperial.
When advising clients, focus on the strengths of different carriers and how these strengths relate to your clients’ needs.
For example, one carrier might offer very strong drug plans. This carrier would be a good fit for clients who take lots of expensive prescription drugs. Meanwhile, another carrier might offer innovative non-medical benefits, like home delivery and rides to the doctor’s office.
Don’t Become a One-Trick Pony
You might have your personal favorites, but if you’re offering the same plan to everyone, you’re probably forgetting a key piece of the puzzle.
Think of it this way – if a car salesman endorsed the same car to every single buyer, would you trust his advice? Of course not. The car that works for a young college student probably won’t work as well for a large family. Everyone has different needs.
It’s the same with health insurance. Everyone has different needs – and you need to find the carrier that best meets the unique needs of every senior you work with.
Look for carriers that have a wide variety of options like HMO, PPO, Part D, and Medicare Supplement. Carriers with deeper portfolios are truly committed to the Medicare beneficiary.
Do you need help reviewing your portfolio? We specialize in expanding your portfolio and can assist with contracting with multiple carriers. WAP is here for you.