Medicare Sales

Resolving Sales Allegations – Ep. 23

Episode 23 goes over an agent’s worst nightmare… sales allegations! Hopefully, you never have to deal with sales allegations, but if you do, don’t start sweating yet. Through this podcast, you will learn what to expect if you get a sales allegation. What exactly does it mean if you receive one? What’s the process? How do you make sure you don’t receive one in the future? How do you make the process go smoothly and quickly? Our Queen of Compliance, Gina Angelo, has all the answers! 

Also, we talk about the Presidential election that is just around the corner and what the polls are telling us when it comes to Medicare for All. How do voters feel about it? What does this mean for the future of our industry? We’ll go over the numbers and give you a starting point for your own research before you have to pick a candidate!

Podcast Episode 23 – Resolving Sales Allegations Transcription:

Disruptive Waves [01:00] :

Jessica: Happy New Year everyone!!! This is our first podcast in the new year and we are pumped for what is to come this year for Selling SMART. 2020 is going to be AMAZING! 

Sarah: Yes SO MUCH is going to happen this year I can feel it! And one of the big things that we all KNOW is going to happen is the Presidential election. 

Jessica: This is true, and as we all know, healthcare is a huge topic of discussion going into these primaries and debates. 

Sarah: Which is why we feel like it’s important to update you on some recent polls that have been conducted by Kaiser Health News and a few others. Obviously, polls change all the time. The article that we found on Kaiser Health News discussing these polls was published on December 3rd, so it’s fairly recent but we know people’s minds change all the time… so just wanna put that disclaimer out there.

Jessica: Yeah, also it may be good to go and check out the article. Kaiser Health News does a really great job of staying impartial and just reporting on the facts, but we know that whenever you’re hearing statistics and numbers, it’s always good to double-check your resources. We’ve gone ahead and made sure that they were legit and there wasn’t any kind of bias, but we’re human so we want to encourage you to use this information as a starting point to your own research to come to your own conclusion of these topics.

Sarah: Yes that is definitely a good idea! And also if any of you know the history of Kaiser I think it’s also good to let you know that we did some digging to see what their relationship with Kaiser Permanente and Kaiser Industries. Because when we first found the article, we were a little concerned that their relationship with those entities could make them biased. BUT! We found that in 1985 Kaiser Health News separated from Kaiser Permanente/Kaiser Industries and now their only tie is that one of the family members gets to serve on the board of Kaiser Health News.

Jessica: Right, so that’s also good to know. And if you want to go find the article yourself to do further digging it’s on the Kaiser Health News website and it’s called “Candidates Are Betting Big On Health. Is That What Voters Really Want?” and it was written by Julie Rovner.

Sarah: So now that we got all of that out of the way, let’s talk about what’s actually in this article.

Jessica: Yes! So obviously health care is a top issue for voters during this 2020 Democratic presidential primary race. Kaiser’s Family Foundation found in their latest tracking poll that 24% of Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents said that they want to hear candidates discuss health care. That number is twice the total for the next top issue which is climate change and four times the total for immigration which is the number three issue. 

Sarah: So it’s clear that health care is very important to voters, but the question that still remains is whether that interest is going to reward a candidate that backs up the “Medicare for All” type of plan or a relatively more modest plan like a public option where a person can voluntarily join a government health insurance plan.

Jessica: And based on conversations you’ve had and people you’ve discussed this topic with, you may have an answer in your mind of what you think voters want. However, the poll numbers didn’t conclude with a clear answer.

Sarah: Right, so on one hand, Democratic and Democratic-leaning respondents in the Kaiser Family Foundation poll said that when it comes to health care, the candidate they would trust the most is Bernie Sanders, who (as many of you know) has been pushing for a Medicare for All plan.

Jessica: Here’s whats a little confusing though. Those SAME people say that they prefer a public option, which is not what Bernie Sanders is pulling for. 

Sarah: Nope. Not at all. That’s what Joe Biden has been wanting. 

Jessica: Yeah, so I think it’s safe to say that’s NOT what many people would expect the polls to conclude. 

Sarah: So also, in a separate poll done by Quinnipiac University, 36% of respondents said that Medicare for All is a good idea while 52% say it’s a bad idea.

Jessica: And a NBC/Wall Street Journal poll from September found similar results with 67% of respondents saying they would support allowing people under the age of 65 to “buy their health coverage through the Medicare program,” while only 41% favored “adopting Medicare for All, a single-payer health care system in which private health insurance would be eliminated.” 

Sarah: Yeah so with that being said, people’s opinions may change between now and the primaries, but these are interesting numbers. 

Jessica: For sure! It will be very interesting to see what happens. Especially since this is the industry we work in and these are pretty major changes that they are talking about. So it’s very possible that this will have a huge effect on us and our every day lives.

Sarah: Right, so definitely do some more research, figure out what every candidate is proposing and be an educated voter!

All Aboard the Knowledge Train [09 :10] :

Jessica: So we are super happy to have our Queen of Compliance, Gina Angelo, on the podcast today! Gina, would you mind just giving us a brief overview of who you are and what exactly your position at SMA entails? 

Gina: So my actual title is SR Compliance Manager- though Queen of Compliance does have a really nice ring to it. Anyway, what I do actually has a number of sides to it when you think of compliance- it’s part sales, part marketing, part corporate, and part workforce. So for the sales side, I ensure I’m an outlet for compliant sales activity for our organization and all the thousands of our downstream agents and brokers. For marketing, I make sure ALL of our formats are being delivered in a way that’s compliant with all guidelines. From a corporate level, I have to see to it that the organization fulfills all obligations on a Federal, multi-state, and carrier relationship level. And in regard to the workforce- I create, deliver, and document all compliance training for all of our employees. I also create and enforce all of our Compliance Policies and Procedures.

Sarah: That’s awesome Gina! We’re happy to have someone like you keeping us all out of jail haha. So let’s just start with the basics in case we have some new agents listening. What exactly are sales allegations? 

Gina: A sales allegation is essentially an inquiry that is opened due to potential sales misrepresentation. Sometimes they can be called by a different name, such as a “grievance”, “investigation”, or “complaint”. They can really come from anywhere, such as from a bene or a member of their family, other sales agents, the Department of Insurance, or directly from CMS. And that’s just a few examples. One thing I will say as someone who’s previously worked in both sales and service directly with a national carrier is that many allegations are prompted based on a call from the beneficiary and are automatic. So if any type of dissatisfaction is noted, in order to make a certain action possible for the bene to resolve their issue, it prompts the inquiry based on what the service rep is told as the order of events. So often the allegations come back as unfounded/unsubstantiated.

Jessica: So obviously a big part of your job is dealing with these sales allegations and I know that is a very scary topic for agents. First of all, you’re kinda getting in trouble so no one likes that, but then I also think it’s scary because agents aren’t entirely sure what the process looks like. Would you be able to take us through that whole process?

Gina: So first I’m going to point right back to what I just said as to WHY the allegations often happen. Anyway, when the case is first opened the carrier’s compliance oversight team will perform an investigation. They usually send out a questionnaire- now sometimes this will be straight to the agent, to both the agent and also to me, or just to me so that I alert the agent of the matter and ask for their response. Now, you have to remember that these are TIME SENSITIVE- so you will have to provide your response and all supporting information within a short period of time, sometimes in as little as 24 hours. Some of the additional info you’ll need will be things like the bene application, the Scope of Appointment, any notes, drug lists or provider searches, or recorded calls. 

Sarah: What would be your advice to an agent if they get a sales allegation?

Gina: REMAIN CALM! Also, please don’t be argumentative- just cooperate. The more you resist and argue, the worse things will be for you, I promise. It reflects very badly on your part. If you feel there has been a misunderstanding, then you can state that in the additional notes or comments section of the response form, but definitely fill in ALL of the other portions of the questionnaire and absolutely DO NOT use an arrogant or hostile tone. Some results of these investigations are additional remediation, suspension, and even termination. Tread carefully.

Jessica: And what are some ways that they can make the process easier for you and run super smoothly so that it’s resolved as quickly and efficiently as possible?

Gina: All those things I just said. Retain your notes (securely of course) and just COOPERATE.

Sarah: Are there certain questions that you feel like agents have a lot when it comes to resolving sales allegations? And if so, what are they and what are the answers?

Gina: They like to ask me “why” they’re getting an allegation. Well, since it actually came from another source, I do not have the answer. It is generally an automated process, often spurred by a call to a carrier’s customer service department. If you wish to dig deeper, I can get you in contact with that carrier’s compliance representative who sent me the inquiry, HOWEVER you are still bound by the timeframe requirements. You cannot postpone the inevitable.

Jessica: What steps should an agent take after a sales allegation? 

Gina: Once the response is submitted to the carrier and received by them, the investigation will continue until a conclusion is reached. The time this will take can vary greatly. As soon as the outcome is given back I WILL LET YOU KNOW. There is no reason to email me multiple times a day to ask about it- I promise!!! Once they evaluate it, all allegations generally fall into 3 primary outcomes: founded/substantiated, unfounded/unsubstantiated, and inconclusive.

Jessica: So most of the time are they true then? 

Gina:  Most often, generally outside of AEP, they are unfounded. Immediately after AEP, I do see a bit of an increase with founded and substantiated cases at least percentage-wise of what I receive.

Sarah: What can agents do once the sales allegation has been completely resolved to make sure they don’t have another sales allegation against them in the future? And are there certain resources that they can turn to for guidance? 

Gina: It’s extremely difficult to ensure you never receive another allegation, as there are so many different actions that initiate them on so many different levels. However, after one happens you can work diligently to change the way you approach certain situations and topics, and perhaps adjust the way you do your sales presentations. Also- I am actively working to add more resources on our Storefront related to compliant sales activity- so be sure to keep an eye out for those. Each time a new one is released we try to let everyone know via email and/or social media. Also, you can always send an email to or reach out to your sales contact with us.

Sarah: So a lot of what you have been talking about is related to you actually helping agents resolve these sales allegations. That really relates to agents who are with us at Senior Market Advisors, but what about agents who aren’t with an FMO? Do they go directly through the carrier or what does that look like?

Gina: So if they are already contracted with a carrier, whether it’s through a different FMO or direct with the carrier, they should have respective compliance contacts. However, if they find that they are not getting the compliance help that they need… maybe it’s time to make a switch? 

Sarah: That’s one this SMA helps with, you’ve got Gina Angelo right here to help you out with resolving all of those sales allegations.

Gina: Always here to help!

Jessica: Well this has been awesome, Gina! Thank you so much for sitting down with us and talking about probably one of the most “not fun” things about your job and an agent’s job haha but it’s important so we really appreciate you giving us your advice and insight! 

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OEP Prep – An Agent’s Guide – Ep. 22

Prepare for Open Enrollment Period (OEP) with Episode 22! We start off this podcast talking about what to expect for traditional Medicare plans in the New Year. It looks like there will be a few price increases in 2020, however there is good news too!

We then go on to discuss the basics of OEP. What is OEP? What can beneficiaries do during OEP? What should agents be doing during OEP? We break down the DOs and DON’Ts of this period, so you know how to be compliant and successful! After listening to this podcast you will be prepared and ready for anything the Open Enrollment Period (OEP) throws your way!

Podcast Episode 22 – Open Enrollment Period (OEP) Prep – An Agent’s Guide Transcription:

Sarah: Welcome to Episode 22 of Selling SMART with Sarah Smith…

Jessica: And Jessica Vara!

Sarah: Now that AEP is over, we’re going to talk about how you should be preparing for OEP which is just around the corner! We’re also gonna talk about some price changes that are expected to impact Medicare plans in 2020.

Disruptive Waves [00:40] :

Sarah: 2020 is almost here which is just CRAZY!

Jessica: Yeah, I have no idea where the year went. It’s also so weird to think that we are gonna be in the 20’s. Also do you know what they call the 10’s? Is it that? Is it the 10’s or is it something else? It just doesn’t sound right to me haha I don’t know.

Sarah: Yeah, maybe if you guys know, because we obviously don’t haha leave a comment and tell us! Is it the 10’s is it the 2000’s? What the proper way to say this, we need to know!

Jessica: Yes we do! Haha but anyway… to bring us back on topic haha with it being the end of the year there are a lot of reports coming out about things to expect in the new year. And we found an article recently that had some interesting info about three major Medicare costs that are expected to jump in January. 

Sarah: Yep! Sadly, this isn’t the best news ever. Several premiums and deductibles on traditional Medicare will be experiencing increases in the new year.

Jessica: So the first one is the 2020 Medicare Part B standard monthly premium which is expected to increase by about $9.10 per month to bring it to $144.60 per month. And just for your reference, the increase from 2018 to 2019 was only by $1.50. So 2020’s is a pretty big jump in comparison.

Sarah: The next one is the 2020 Medicare Part B annual deductible and that’s expected to increase to $198 per year which is a $13 increase. And again this plan only increased by $2 a year ago.

Jessica: The last one is the 2020 Medicare Part A annual inpatient hospital deductible for traditional Medicare. That’s going to increase $44, compared to the $24 increase that happened a year prior. So now that cost is expected to be at $1,408 per benefit period.

Sarah: Obviously a lot of this depends on the beneficiary’s income for Part B, but overall these plans are looking at a pretty significant increase in 2020.

Jessica: On the bright side though, Medicare Advantage premiums for 2020 are expected to be 23% lower than they were for 2018! And it’s actually supposed to be the lowest it’s ever been in the past 13 years which is awesome!

Sarah: Yeah I think the main reason for that is CMS’s efforts to drive competition. The other thing too is that the number of Medicare Advantage plans available for 2020 is greater than ever. So not all bad news! 

Jessica: Yeah there are definitely things to look forward to in the new year!

All Aboard the Knowledge Train [04:10] :

Jessica: So now that AEP has officially come to an end, we can focus on Open Enrollment Period or OEP. 

Sarah: Let’s start with the basics! OEP is a one-time opportunity for individuals enrolled in MA Only or an MAPD plan to switch plans or drop their plan altogether. 

Jessica: And if you didn’t know, the purpose of this period is to help beneficiaries who are not satisfied with the plan they enrolled in during Annual Enrollment (AEP).

Sarah: Right! And during this period, beneficiaries enrolled in MA-Only plans or MAPD plans are able to switch to a different MA-only or MAPD plan, drop their Medicare Advantage plan altogether, return to Original Medicare and add a Part D plan. The period begins January 1st and ends March 31st. Which means you have that window to help bene’s who aren’t happy with their plans! However, OEP is different than AEP and has a few more guidelines that you have to follow in order to be compliant. And we all know how important compliance is! 

Jessica: Yes compliance is very important! No one wants to deal with any sales allegations. So in order to avoid that whatever you do, do NOT market to leads or clients during OEP. Marketing is strictly prohibited during this period, so be careful.

Sarah: OEP guidelines make it so that you are prohibited from KNOWINGLY targeting or sending unsolicited marketing materials to any MA or Part D enrollee during OEP. Now what does “knowingly” mean? It pretty much just takes into account the intent AND content of your message. 

Jessica: So this is where OEP gets a little tricky and people have the hardest time understanding. Cause how are you supposed to make any money or sales during OEP if you can’t market to beneficiaries. And that’s where I would remind people that there is a difference between marketing and communication. You can still communicate with your book of business, you just can’t open a discussion about OEP specifically and how it’s a period they can use to switch plans.

Sarah: Right, so with that being said, you CAN reach out to them to make sure that they’re happy with the plan they selected and you can also take that opportunity to educate them on the ins and outs of their new plan benefits.

Jessica: Exactly! And this gives them the opportunity to bring up to YOU if they’re not happy with their plan and want to look at other options. 

Sarah: Yeah cause remember the main reason you can’t start the conversation about it is for the beneficiaries protection. They don’t want people taking advantage of these different selling periods and talking people into different plans simply to make money. That would not be good!

Jessica: And don’t forget you can talk and communicate with your clients through a ton of different platforms. And I think this is where people tend to get confused because when people think about flyers, emails, and direct mail they think marketing which is not allowed. However, you CAN use flyers, emails, social media… all of these different outlets! You just have to be careful with what you put and say on these materials. 

Sarah: Yeah, you may not be able to talk about how bene’s can change their plans during OEP, but you can use those materials and have the content be educational or retention efforts. And that’s something you want to be doing anyway! You want to make sure you’re checking in on your clients and see if they are using their benefits and are happy.

Jessica: Yep! So go ahead and make those calls! Send those emails! You want to make sure your clients don’t forget that you’re there to help them with all of their Medicare questions and needs!

Sarah: And lucky for you guys, Senior Market Advisors actually has a ton of approved flyers and mailers on our Storefront that you can purchase if you’re an agent with us! However, if you’re a subscriber we’re going to give you a flyer to download for FREE!

Jessica: So just to wrap it all up, as you’re preparing for OEP here are the do’s and dont’s. First, DO market to those who are eligible for a Special Enrollment Period.

Sarah: And that includes people who are turning 65 soon and still haven’t made an enrollment decision, as well as dual-eligible and low-income subsidy beneficiaries who can make changes once per the calendar quarter during the first nine months of the year. 

Jessica: Also for 2020 you are now able to include GENERAL information about enrollment periods, including OEP. But just remember that when you send out marketing materials regarding SEP you CANNOT state WHAT OEP is or market it as another time people can switch plans!

Sarah: DO communicate with beneficiaries and send materials, have one-on-one meetings and provide information. Just make sure to do it in a way that’s compliant!

Jessica: Finally DO market 5-star plans if they’re available because those can be sold year-round!

Sarah: And now for the DONT’S! DON’T send unsolicited materials advertising the ability to make an additional enrollment change during the Open Enrollment Period (OEP).

Jessica: DON’T use messaging that markets the Open Enrollment Period (OEP) as a time people can switch plans. 

Sarah: DON’T specifically target beneficiaries who are in the Open Enrollment Period (OEP) because they made a choice during AEP, by purchase of mailing lists or other means of identification. 

Jessica: DON’T engage in or promote agent/broker activities that intend to target the OEP as an opportunity to make further sales.

Sarah: And finally, DON’T call or otherwise contact former enrollees who have selected a new plan during AEP to bring up OEP and ask them if they want to switch their plan.

Jessica: If you follow these guidelines you’ll have a smooth OEP and hopefully help some beneficiaries as well! 

Sarah: And if you have any questions about OEP feel free to contact our Sales Team! They will be happy to help you and answer any questions you may have!

The Value of Cross Selling – Ep. 21

In Episode 21, we discuss cross selling! However, we start off by talking about how drones are saving lives! When you think of a drone, what comes to mind? Do you think of healthcare? Maybe not. But a company called Zipline is working to change that! They are using drones to deliver life-saving medical supplies to remote areas in African nations. 

Later in the episode, we welcome Keith Hinson as a guest! He provides us with insight on the value of cross selling. His experience is incredibly helpful and valuable to other agents who want to cross sell! Keith makes it simple and easy to understand what benefits cross selling offers, what to offer to clients when cross selling, and his advise on how to cross sell successfully!

Podcast Episode 21 – The Value of Cross Selling Transcription:

Sarah: Welcome to Episode 21 of Selling SMART with Sarah Smith…

Jessica: And Jessica Vara!

Sarah: In today’s episode we’re coming in hot with DRONES! Yes, you heard right. Drones are saving lives! We will discuss how. We also are going to talk about something you all should be doing when possible, cross selling! Cross selling is really important to increase your sales and build your business. We brought our very own Keith Hinson back on the podcast to break it all down!

Disruptive Waves:

Sarah: So continuing our discussion of some interesting technological advances that are affecting the healthcare space, we are going to talk about drones today! Okay, we all know drones are cool. Kinda scary. But also super cool. Well, drones are now being used to save lives!!

Jessica: We are pretty lucky here in the US, most places at least have the infrastructure to be to transport life-saving materials, even to remote rural areas. But other countries like Rwanda and Ghana, aren’t always so lucky. Currently, they don’t have the necessary infrastructure to allow for access to remote health centers. Some of these health centers only receive medical supply deliveries twice a year. But a company called Zipline is working to change that!


Sarah: Zipline manufactures drones in California and then stations them at distribution centers in the African nations of Rwanda and Ghana. They hope to expand into other developing nations as well! Basically, their goal is to deliver life-saving medicines and other medical products to remote areas that don’t have the infrastructure in place to receive deliveries any other way. So they probably just don’t have the road access but what’s awesome is that Zipline drones fly without a pilot and are able to fly over mountains and rivers so the local communities don’t need to have roads in order to receive medical deliveries!

Jessica: What’s really cool is that the doctors in these remote locations can request deliveries via an app! These drones can fly rain or shine and they’re now supporting hundreds of deliveries per day! 

Sarah: Yeah and in places where it used to take over 5 hours for medical supplies to arrive, now can only take 30 minutes with a Zipline drone delivery! That can be the difference between life and death for someone in critical condition so it’s so awesome!

Jessica: Yeah this just shows the power of technology in today’s world. It’s so amazing that people are using drones for good!

Sarah: Yeah I feel like I typically think of drones as either a military thing or just for fun to fly around your neighborhood and take photos so it’s really cool to see drones being used to save lives!

All Aboard the Knowledge Train:

Jessica: Today we are lucky to have one of our own, Keith Hinson on the podcast! He is going to talk to us about the value of cross selling, how you can be doing it and why it’s so important!! First Keith, would you mind giving us a little background about yourself?

Keith: My name is Keith Hinson and I am the Vice President of Life and Ancillary Sales here at Senior Market Advisors. The way I got into the insurance business was that I was actually educated to be an engineer and I was working a graveyard shift sitting at my desk and I realized that it was not the way I wanted to spend my working life. So I did research and figured that insurance would be profitable and a good fit for my life so 20 years later this is where I find myself. Couple fun facts: I’m an eagle scout and I’m a three-time iron distance tri-athlete.

Sarah: Okay so cross selling is that simple right. Can you just talk about the basics of cross selling and what products you would be cross selling?


  1. What is cross selling?  At its core cross selling is selling complementary products that pair well with the original product or additional products that were uncovered during your fact finding process.
  2. As an example, for the senior market, these products may include products such as Dental, Vision, HIP, Home Health, Cancer, etc.  All of which pair with with Medicare plans or specific needs that would be uncovered during the fact finding process.

Jessica: How does cross selling help grow your business?

Keith: I believe that cross selling as part of your daily activity is important for four main reasons..

  1. First and foremost, it’s the right thing to do for your clients. – educate them
  2. Book Diversity
  3. Money – Marketing is expensive – at least expect to double your income at 1 out of 4
  4. Retention – Limra Study 3+

Sarah: Okay so there are a lot of compliance concerns around cross selling. Even the word cross selling makes some agents feel uneasy. Can you just talk a bit about what you can and can’t do and how to make sure you’re compliant?

Keith: The easiest way to answer that question is to make sure that anything you discuss  has been initialed on the scope. Dental, Vision, Supp, MA, Indemnity, Part D (exclude life, DI, LTC, etc.)


Jessica: Are there certain products that pair well together and should be sold together if possible?

Keith:There are several plans that pair well together.  As an example:

Supp, Part D, Dental, Vision

MA, HIP, Cancer – OOO, Part B Cost with Chemo, Part D cost

Sarah: What is the best advice you can give an agent who decides to go ahead with cross selling?

Keith: My advice is pretty simple.  

  1. Have a plan/presentation and know your products
  2. Present the options every time
  3. Do it consistently.  Not everyone will buy and you have to polish your presentation

Make sure to tune in for an extra funny segment of Ending on a Positive Note with Jessica and Paxton! You don’t want to miss it.

Sarah: If you want to learn more about how Senior Market Advisors can be your home for success this AEP, give us a call at 844-334-6066. If you want to be featured on the podcast, visit and click on the button that says “Share Your Story.” 

Sarah: Want more Medicare sales related content? Follow Senior Market Advisors on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter – links in the description. We post new episodes every other Friday so make sure to follow and like us to stay up to date with all the newest content! If you’re liking our podcast, share our posts with the hashtag SELLING SMART to be entered to win an Amazon Echo Dot! 

Jessica: We appreciate you joining us this week on Selling SMART 

Sarah: with Senior Market Advisors! 

How to Build Client Trust to Make the Sale – Ep. 19

Episode 19 is all about client trust. Learn what steps to take when you first step into an appointment and meet a beneficiary for the first time in order to gain their trust and get the sale. We’ll discuss ways to connect with your clients so that they feel comfortable with you because people want to buy from people they like. Pay attention to your surroundings and find topics that you can bring up in conversation, be polite, and treat your client the way you would want to be treated by someone coming into your home. Most importantly, to gain client trust, it needs to be clear that you care about doing what is best for them and not the sale. You want to help them and find a plan that is right for them!

In this podcast, we also talk about scammers who are targeting Medicare eligibles by getting them to take genetic tests to see if they are more likely to get cancer or if they will respond poorly to certain medications. These fraudulent tests have been happening all over the country and there are hundreds of investigations in the works to try and get to the bottom of this issue.

Finally, with Veterans Day right around the corner, we end the podcast with stories from our very own employees about their time in the military or the impact the military has had on them and their lives. Thank you for your service Gina, Aaron, and Omar! Another big thank you to anyone else who has helped protect our country and our freedoms! We appreciate all you’ve done and sacrificed for our country! 

Podcast Episode 19 – How to Build Client Trust to Make the Sale Transcription:

Sarah: Welcome to Episode 19 of Selling SMART with Sarah Smith….

Jessica: And Jessica Vara!

Sarah: In today’s episode we discuss…

Disruptive Waves:

Jessica: So you may have heard but there has been some fraudulent activity regarding unnecessary genetic testing targeting seniors in the Medicare space recently.

Sarah: Yes in all, more than 300 federal investigations have been conducted by multiple law enforcement agencies. One assistant inspector general for some of the investigations said that his office would receive about one or two complaints per week in 2018. However, now the fraud hotline has as many as 50 calls a week.

Jessica: And these incidents aren’t limited to one geographic location! These investigations are going on across the country.

Sarah: Yeah, and a lot of these investigations were partially started because they noticed unusual Medicare billing data patterns and these started emerging quite a while ago in 2015. 

Jessica: Yep! According to an analysis found by Reuters, for Medicare payouts, genetic tests have gone from $480 million in 2015 to $1.1 BILLION in 2018! 

Sarah: Which is a crazy jump! The investigations are examining billings submitted to federal health insurance programs because by law all diagnostic lab tests have to be ordered by a doctor treating a patient for a specific condition.

Jessica: Well and in the cases under review, investigators and patients told Reuters that marketers would get elderly residents to turn over their Medicare or Medicaid info, their driver’s license and other forms of identification and then they would tell them to take a free cheek swab that will help them understand their risks of developing cancer and how they will respond to drug treatments based on their genetics. And then they get a doctor to sign off on it and approve the test which is then taken to a lab which then seeks Medicare payouts. 

Sarah: And then a lot of the labs aren’t even relevant to the patient’s history and some of the doctors are trusting the patients and signing off on them without conferring with the patient. Apparently many patients aren’t even receiving the results and if they do receive them, they receive no assistance in interpreting the results.

Jessica: Really I think a lot of this is also happening because scammers see trends like 23&Me and things like that and they know that people will trust it or want to know certain information about their genes and/or health.

Sarah: Definitely, but it is just super sad and for multiple reasons. I mean one is that a lot of these seniors are getting their tests back and none of them even make sense and it’s just useless information. The part of the problem is that Medicare may deny these claims, meaning that the Medicare beneficiary may have to pay out of pocket for these fraudulent tests costing them thousands of dollars in some cases. And labs are billing Medicare insurance plans for crazy amounts of money. One woman from Florida said that she found out a lab billed her Medicare Part B plan more than $30,000 and was paid more than $12,000! And she also said that the test results she got back were pretty much useless. 

Jessica: What’s also really sad about this is that now seniors, who honestly are already a relatively suspicious market, are now having real cause to be suspicious which is just hurtful to the people out there, like our agents, who are truly trying to help.

Sarah: For sure! It’s not just about the money these scammers are getting, but the people. They are definitely hurting people and making them question. That’s also why it’s good to practice ways of building client trust, which we will discuss in detail in the next segment!

All Aboard the Knowledge Train:

Sarah: Okay, so once you’ve got an appointment with a beneficiary you may be asking what you can do to make sure you successfully close the sale.

Jessica: And there are many factors to making sure you’re successful, but the most important is definitely building client trust. 

Sarah: Client trust is definitely key! Put yourself in their shoes, what kind of salesperson would you want to buy from? 

Jessica: I know that I wouldn’t want to buy from someone who seemed like they cared more about the sale than me. I would think they are taking advantage of me for sure! 

Sarah: Exactly! You would want to buy from someone like you, someone you feel you can trust!

Jessica: So this is how you build client trust!

Sarah: First impressions are EVERYTHING, so be prepared! Dress appropriately, make sure you have all your relevant marketing materials, applications, and scope of appointment forms.

Jessica: When you arrive at their home, be friendly! Smile when you get out of your vehicle, be inviting!

Sarah: Yeah and be looking around for clues that will give you insight into what their interests are.

Jessica: Maybe they have a military bumper sticker or are hanging a sports team’s flag outside their door. These are things that you can be paying attention to so that you can bring it up in conversation and relate to your client!

Sarah: People can also sense your level of confidence. 

Jessica: Kinda like how animals can sense your fear! Haha!

Sarah: Haha right! So when you walk up to the door, make sure you walk with purpose! Oh and whatever you do, DO NOT peer into their window after you knock!

Jessica: Yes, make sure you step back after knocking on the door. Some elderly people may take a little longer to get to the door and if they see you peering in they are going to get spooked! I know I would!

Sarah: And when they finally invite you in, make sure that you don’t hesitate. Talk to them as you enter. Also, remember to be courteous. If their home seems neat and tidy and they’re not wearing shoes ask if you should remove your shoes before entering. 

Jessica: Just think about what you would want if a salesperson was coming to your home. If you always put yourself in your client’s shoes, then you should be safe in making them feel comfortable with them.

Sarah: Obviously building client trust goes beyond the initial few seconds of you arriving and entering their home. So let’s talk rapport.

Jessica: Building rapport means making the beneficiary feel comfortable with you by presenting yourself as friendly and open. This can be done in many different ways. So let’s break it down, Sarah!

Sarah: Alright! Number one: make small talk by asking questions and discussing their interests. Like we mentioned before, take note of your surroundings. If you noticed that they served in the military you may be able to start a conversation. Oh, you were in the military? My dad was a Marine! Or something like that. Try to relate.  Also, make sure you stay away from religion and politics if possible. And of course, ask lots of questions to understand what products and services they may need or want.

Jessica: My turn! Number two: Listen and engage. A lot of what we have told you already serves to this point, but there is a reason for that… it’s important! Try to get to know your client on a personal level and share stories of your own to connect with them. Try and find commonalities between the two of you. This will make you seem like a real person and not just some stranger trying to sell them something. 

Sarah: Remember, that clients like buying from people they actually like. Sometimes the product is secondary. You could be selling the best product in the world, but if you don’t seem trustworthy and honest, it’s likely you’re client will buy from someone else who they like more.

Jessica: Yes, that’s super important! We can’t emphasize that enough! 

Sarah: Which brings us to the last part of building rapport: tone and body language. We like to use a technique called parroting. 

Jessica: haha What a great name!

Sarah: haha Yeah, so to parrot you talk how your client talks, act how they act, etc. because, once again, people like doing business with people like them.

Jessica: Yes, so make sure you pay attention to their body language because that will help you with parroting. But also, it will give you an idea of how they feel. If they are leaning in and nodding their head then they are most likely engaged and interested, but if they have their arms crossed and are leaning away from you that’s a sign of disengagement and they may not trust what you’re saying. We actually discuss understanding client body language in Episode 3 of the podcast about The Assumptive Close technique. So give that a listen if you want to dive into body language a bit more!

Sarah: So another way to make sure that you build client trust, introduce yourself as an expert. Even if you’re brand new to sales!

Jessica: Fake it till you make it, am I right? haha

Sarah: You are definitely right! Haha! Spend a few minutes letting them know who you are, what you do, and that your job as a Medicare specialist is to make this process as easy as possible for them. Remember that you will be discussing a lot of personal information with this person, they may open up to you about their health problems. So making sure that they see you as an expert, as someone who truly understands what you are selling them, is incredibly vital.  

Jessica: Make sure that you believe in yourself and what your offering! Remember, people can sense your level of confidence! Also, think about what your why is! Once you know this it will be easier to convey that you truly want to HELP people and get joy from helping beneficiaries like them getting great benefits that cover their needs. 

Sarah: Yeah, I mean maybe even tell them a story about someone else that you’ve helped gain the coverage they deserve and how much joy and gratitude you received from that interaction. We interviewed motivational coach and international speaker, Ben Newman, last episode and he talked a lot about how telling stories is an important selling method. It makes you relatable and connects with the beneficiary on an emotional level.

Jessica: Telling your client about others you’ve helped will allow them to get comfortable with you and know that they are doing business with someone that a lot of other people trust.

Sarah: Yes, why else do companies always want customer reviews? Because people gauge their confidence in a salesperson or a product based on other people’s experience. This is a great reason why referrals are so important in growing your business!

Jessica: Also remember that this trust-building process doesn’t stop once you’ve made the sale. That is only the beginning of your relationship with your new client! If you truly want to retain your clients, it’s important to position yourself as their go-to person for everything Medicare, even after the sale. You want to be their point of contact for whenever they have a question about their Medicare coverage.

Sarah: Yes!! I feel like this is a part of selling Medicare that doesn’t get enough attention. Selling the product is important but what you do AFTER the sale is equally important!

Jessica: If you’re wondering what you can do after the sale to retain your clients, you can use the 3-30-60-90 conversation guide! We’ve got another podcast episode that discusses the 3-30-60-90 guide in detail so give that episode a listen. But to summarize, in order to build client trust, it’s important to maintain contact. Whether that be 3 days after the sale, 30 days, 60 days or 90 days! Always stay top of mind with your clients and make them truly feel like you are there for them and care about their needs.

Sarah: Yes! So there you have it! These are great ways to build client trust. 

Jessica: And the more client trust you have the more likely you’re going to make the sale and maybe even get referrals! So always put yourself in the clients’ shoes. Think about what would make you want to buy from someone. You’d probably want to buy from someone who is friendly, honest, likable, and truly knows and understands the product. Someone who you can trust to not only help make the best healthcare decision but also someone you can rely on as a true Medicare expert!

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Jessica: We appreciate you joining us this week on Selling SMART

Sarah: with Senior Market Advisors!

Ben Newman on How to Be a Top Performer – Ep. 18

In Episode 18, Sarah and Jessica interview Performance Coach, Ben Newman. Senior Market Advisors has been working with Ben Newman for a few months and we knew that his knowledge needed to be shared with our listeners. He has been working with SMA leadership and employees to help our company improve through successfully growing and maintaining efficient company culture. Through our time with Ben Newman, we have come to know the power of his authenticity and engaging storytelling. No wonder he has become nationally recognized! This podcast is exactly what every agent needs to listen to during the start of AEP

Ben Newman is a highly regarded Performance Coach, International Speaker, and Best-Selling Author. He has worked with clients from Fortune 500 companies around the world as well as professional athletes in the NFL, PGA, NBA, MLB, UFC, and NCAA. Ben Newman has shared the stage with leaders such as Jerry Rice, Ray Lewis, Tony Dungy, Colin Powell, Brian Tracy, Ken Blanchard, Jon Gordon, and many others. In 2012 The Napoleon Hill Foundation recognized Ben as one of the Top 51 speakers and thought leaders in the world and his book, “Own Your Success,” was ranked by CEO READ as their #13 business book of the year. He currently lives in St. Louis, Missouri with his wife and their children who he says is the true measure of his success. In this podcast, Ben Newman shares with us the strategies he has implemented within his life and others’ lives to be a motivated top performer. 

Join us as we talk to Ben about “The Burn,” mental toughness, identifying SMART goals, and life lessons from his mother. We promise that if you use these techniques in your own life you will not only excel professionally but also personally. Ben Newman has the ability to help you reframe your mind and realize what motivates you. Figure out what your burn is! You’ll see an increase in sales, productivity, and overall happiness. Listen to the full podcast to learn the secrets of being a top performer!

Follow us on social media and share our podcast postings with the #SellingSMART to be entered to win an Amazon Echo Dot!

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Medicare Plan Finder Tool: What’s Changed? – Ep. 17

Episode 17 discusses the latest update to the Medicare Plan Finder Tool on As you may have heard, this tool has been significantly altered with AEP right around the corner. Find out what exactly has been changed and why agents everywhere are talking about it. 

As we go through all of the Medicare Plan Finder Tool revisions, we will highlight the following categories: saving information, preferred pharmacies, overview of costs, total costs, provider networks, star ratings, drug cost assistance, printed drug list, navigation issues, out-of-pocket max, and old records. Learn what is new and what has remained the same, so that you can figure out the best strategy when enrolling beneficiaries this annual enrollment period.

Finally, we will conclude on a positive note with an interview with agent Paul Coleman. No matter what is going on in the industry, we always try to focus on the good and the lives we can impact for the better professionally and personally. 

Medicare Plan Finder Tool: What’s Changed? – Ep. 17 Full Transcript

Sarah: Welcome to Selling SMART with Sarah Smith….

Jessica: And Jessica Vara!

Sarah: Today’s episode is all about the updates to the Medicare Plan Finder Tool on So we are going to switch it up a bit on this podcast. We are going to combine the Disruptive Waves section with All Aboard the Knowledge Train because this massive update we have for you will affect your every day selling this AEP…

Jessica: Yes, hopefully you have heard by now that the Medicare Plan Finder tool on has had a HUGE update recently. The new Medicare Plan Finder tool went live on on October 1st which unfortunately didn’t give agents much time to play around with the changes and get comfortable with the new tool before AEP. 

Sarah: So if you haven’t familiarized yourself with these changes already, you really should before AEP! These changes will affect how you use the tool during appointments to get beneficiaries the right coverage for their needs. 

Jessica: Forbes had a few articles on the most important changes to the Medicare Plan Finder tool. So let’s break down the changes and then we can dive in to how they will affect you. 

Sarah: Starting with how you save information… 

  • Saving Information – One of the biggest potential issues for agents is the ability to save information. The only way to save information now on the new Medicare Plan Finder Tool is to have an account on But here’s the catch: to create an account you need to have a Medicare number and you might need to add some other other health information. Now you could technically fudge that other information, but you have to have a Medicare number. This means agents may be unable to save information. This also means that if a beneficiary who is new to Medicare and not yet 65 wanted to browse plans and save information to discuss with an agent, they wouldn’t be able to do so as far as I can tell when I was messing around today with the new Medicare Plan Finder Tool.(Source

And now time, for an SMA Value Ad:

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  • What’s frustrating is that the old Medicare Plan Finder Tool on would save your information and create a profile for you including your zip code, current coverage, and current subsidy level and it would sit up in the corner while you were doing a search and it would add information as created. This no longer saves, so you’ll have to start over every time you want to use the site. 
  • This also includes the “Retrieve My Saved Drug List” This was an awesome feature for agents and benes alike. You could go through the website, add the drugs and you would be able to save that drug list and it would give you a drug list id number and the date it was created. And then you could just go back in and input the drug list id number and the date it was created and it would retrieve that drug list and you wouldn’t have to go back and populate drugs every time. Many beneficiaries are taking many drugs. Some are taking 10 prescriptions, 20 prescriptions, who knows! So entering those in every single time is just a total hassle. This also was helpful if a bene wanted to use it to print their drugs to take to the pharmacy. Nope, that feature is gone as well 🙁
  • Another thing about the Adding Drug page that’s been updated is that the old page used to show you whether the drug you input was generic and if there were generic options available to lower costs. When I was in there today I did not see this feature anywhere so if that’s a feature that is available, I don’t think a beneficiary would easily find it.
  • You also used to be able to refine plan results. For example, if you only want MA only plans or MAPD plans you could choose between them. As far as I can tell, there’s no way to filter for those fields. You can filter by carrier and star ratings and then filter by coverage options like vision, dental, hearing, transportation, and fitness.


  • Preferred Pharmacies – The new Medicare Plan Finder tool will make finding preferred pharmacies a challenge. The older version had two methods to retrieve this information. You could find the Pharmacy network and see a chart of all preferred, standard, or out-of-network pharmacies in a specific zip code. Another option was to click on the View Drug Cost Summary on the comparison page. This would create a comparison of pharmacies and identified if it was preferred, standard, or out-of-network. The new Plan Finder tool does not have either option available for identifying preferred pharmacies. If you want to find preferred pharmacies, you would need to change pharmacies and then compare costs. This is an inefficient method and depending on the drug, may not be accurate. (Source
  • Old site would show which pharmacies were preferred while on the Selecting Your Pharmacies page. That no longer exists so if a bene was looking for this information, they probably wouldn’t even find it.
  • Overview of Costs – In the past, agents could click on a link on the Overview page of the Legacy Plan Finder and find all the information surrounding the plan’s cost and sharing information. This information does not appear on the updated tool. (Source)


  • Total Costs – The older Plan Finder tool easily displayed total out-of-pocket drug costs for the year, including monthly premiums and costs for prescriptions. The new Plan Finder estimates yearly costs at retail or mail order pharmacies, but they do not include the premium. To get this cost you would need to multiply the premium by 12 and add that cost to the estimated costs. There have been reports that CMS is aware of this flaw and is working to fix it but we haven’t heard an update on this just yet but hopefully they will fix it before AEP starts. (Source)

And now time, for an SMA Value Ad:

Looking for extra marketing support? SMA Storefront is your one-stop shop for all your marketing needs! Use SMA’s Agent Storefront to customize generic marketing materials like posters, mailers, flyers, rack cards and business cards! We give you the ability to add your logo and contact information so every piece is one of a kind! Planning to host a marketing event? Order pre-designed banners and giveaways directly from Storefront! Continue your knowledge on sales techniques by viewing the Building Your Business video series and downloading Medicare-related whitepapers! Customize your marketing, educate yourself and get the tools you need to succeed, all with SMA Storefront! Interested in learning more? Visit us online at or give us a call at 844-334-6066.


  • Provider Networks The older Plan Finder had a link to the plan’s provider network site. This allowed agents and beneficiaries to find in-network physicians. However, the new Plan Finder does not have this link, so it may be difficult to find this information. (Source)


  • Star Ratings – Star ratings are an important factor when enrolling in a plan. The new Plan Finder tools does not have information on people who left the plan (or why they left) and the rating for “ease of getting prescription filled” is no longer available. (Source) Right now the “Star Rating” just says “Coming Soon”… hopefully this feature will be added soon?
  • Drug Cost Assistance – The old Medicare Plan Finder Tool had a link to “lower your drug costs.” This link will take you to a page that would identify any assistance available for a specific medication. However, the new Plan Finder tool’s link takes you to a generic with 6 ways to get help with your prescription costs. (Source)  


  • Printed Drug List – This is kind of something I talked about earlier. The old Medicare Plan Finder Tool had a drug list that could be printed on a simple, one-page document. Many beneficiaries would take this to their physician appointments. However, the new Plan Finder does not have a one-page option. Instead, beneficiaries would need to to print each page of the drug lists, and only 3-4 drugs fit per page. (Source)
  • Navigation Issues – The new Medicare Plan Finder Tool has several navigation issues. These issues include locations changing when searching for pharmacies in two locations, no option to view all plans on one page, and less sorting options when filtering  plans. (Source)
  • Out-of-Pocket Max – the out-of-pocket maximum on the comparison page is wrong. Instead, it shows estimated total costs for the year. (Source)


  • Old Records – Records from the old Medicare Plan Finder Tool will not migrate into the new one. This means agents and beneficiaries will need to take extra time when entering data and there is a higher chance of errors. (Source)

Hopefully you were able to print off drugs lists or any other old records you had for your clients, but if not it may be a good idea to start doing that in the future. That way if any major changes happen again you will be prepared! We live and we learn!


Yeah this is a really frustrating thing. I think a lot of agents really just didn’t know that all of these changes were coming. They didn’t know that all this information would be purged. Now there is just no access to it. And it’s annoying for agents who may have used the Medicare Plan Finder Tool to house information to use to prepare before appointments. It just makes the whole process more tedious. 


But with all that let’s try to stay on the positive side! I mean really this is just the government is making this big push to make it easier for Medicare-eligibles. And they want it to be easier for them to find information and to learn about plans that are out there. I think that is the intent but as technology changes we are bound to hit bumps in the road and this appears to be one of them. But hopefully in the grand scheme of things, it will all work out in the end.


Obviously, these updates are causing agents huge headaches and are not ideal, but as you should know if you listen to our podcast regularly, we try to stay positive.

This is there biggest overhaul they’ve done to the site in years. So it’s not surprising that there is bugs and things that they didn’t prepare for or they missed. So hopefully it is a work in progress and will improve. We know all these changes are not ideal but as you know if you listen to our podcast regularly, we always try to end on a positive note.

Sarah: If you want to learn more about how Senior Market Advisors can be your home for success this AEP, give us a call at 844-334-6066. If you want to be featured on the podcast, visit and click on the button that says “Share Your Story.” 

Sarah: Want more Medicare sales related content? Follow Senior Market Advisors on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter – links in the description. We post new episodes every other Friday so make sure to follow and like us to stay up to date with all the newest content! If you’re liking our podcast, share our posts with the hashtag SELLING SMART to be entered to win an Amazon Echo Dot! 

Jessica: We appreciate you joining us this week on Selling SMART 
Sarah: with Senior Market Advisors!

SMA AEP Kickoff: LIVE Recording – Ep. 16

Join us for the Senior Market Adivors AEP Kickoff event in Nashville, TN! Episode 16 is different from all previous podcast episodes! We are proud to present our first podcast on the go just in time for AEP! Sarah and Jessica set up the podcast at an event where Senior Market Advisors hosted a select group of agents across Tennessee and our carrier partners. The AEP Kickoff took place at TopGolf! The perfect place to talk business and also have fun!

In this episode you’ll get a sneak peek of some of the 2020 benefits offered in the Tennessee market for carriers like Aetna, Cigna, Amerigroup, BCBS of TN and more! You’ll also hear about some of the amazing value adds that Senior Market Advisors provides to our contracted agents. We hope you enjoy the presentation and it feels like you are in the room with us!

Then we conclude with a couple interviews with two agents, Ray Dover and Eric Peek who share their advice for agents in preparing for AEP and some feel good stories. Our agents talk about reasons they got into the healthcare industry and how they connect with their clients. Senior Market Advisors believes in serving the underserved and that is clear as you listen to statements made by our agents. It isn’t about getting the sale, it’s about helping beneficiaries find a plan that is right for them. Some of our agents have ended up forming relationships with their clients that last for years! Remember that as we move into AEP. This isn’t just a season for sales, it’s also a time to make a difference in your community. We promise, you’ll find AEP and your job rewarding if you approach with the mindset of helping others! Get motivated and get excited because AEP is right around the corner!

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3-30-60-90 – A Guide to Client Retention – Ep. 13

In Episode 13, we give you a guide to client retention. We also analyze the challenges new technology can bring to healthcare. Listen and learn why some people say Amazon’s Alexa’s bedside manners are bad for the healthcare industry. There are pros and cons to all new developments and this episode we focus on some of the criticisms and concerns of new devices. 

Later in the episode, Sarah and Jessica also go over how to maintain successful relationships and have great client retention using the 3-30-60-90 method, because what you do AFTER the sale is just as important as the sale itself! Listen as Sarah and Jessica role-play through our step-by-step phone conversation guide. You’ll learn how staying in touch can help you with client retention. The guide begins with the follow-up call around 3 days after the sale. Then you’ll learn what a phone conversation should sound like after 30 days, 60 days, and 90 days after the sale. Each conversation is different, but all conversations focus around one main principle: putting the client first.

Remember, closing the sale is important, but maintaining a close relationship with your clients builds trust. You can be so much more than an insurance agent. To build relationships, strive to be your client’s resource for everything Medicare!

Like what you heard on today’s podcast and want to download the our 3-30-60-90 whitepaper? DOWNLOAD HERE.

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3-30-60-90 – A Guide to Client Retention – Ep. 13 Transcript

Disruptive Waves:

Jessica: A few episodes ago we discussed some of the ways that technology is improving the healthcare industry – 

Sarah: Yeah.

Jessica: – and one of the things in particular that we discussed was Amazon’s Alexa and how they were beginning to use her for things like reading someone’s blood sugar or finding the closest emergency care center, stuff like that. 

Sarah: Uh huh!

Jessica: Well, I came across an article the other day on Kaiser Health News and I thought it was really interesting. It’s an analysis on Alexa’s bedside manner and why it is bad for health care.

Sarah: Hmmm

Jessica: Yeah, I thought it was pretty interesting! I just think that it’s good to look at both sides of things and with an issue like this in particular, I thought it would be beneficial to discuss some of the criticisms that these new technologies are getting.

Sarah: Definitely! I mean I feel like that is the best way to really understand anything — to get the full picture you really need to listen to both sides.

Jessica: Exactly! And this article makes some great points.

Sarah: Right, so what exactly did it say?

Jessica: Well so the author pretty much starts out by talking about how they went to the Brainstorm Health conference in San Diego and Bruce Broussard, Humana’s CEO, discussed how he believes technology will help patients receive help during medical crises with the ability to monitor and visit the doctors through video conferences. But then when they got home from the conference they returned to a lovely present of a $235 medical bill for a telehealth visit.

Sarah: Wow, I’m actually really surprised by how much that costs. That’s crazy for not even going into the doctor’s office.

Jessica: Right?! And that’s pretty much what starts the criticism of these new technologies.

Sarah: Yeah, I guess when you think about it, with these services you are still paying doctors for their time, but the patient really isn’t getting the same benefits they have of physically being there. 

Jessica: Yeah and this case in particular they were charged $235 for a five minute phone-call where the doctor answered a question about a possible infection. 

Sarah: When you do the math isn’t that like over $2,000 an hour?!

Jessica: Oh yeah, it’s crazy! I mean that’s more than corporate lawyers even bill! 

Sarah: Wow.

Jessica: Yeah, and this leads the author into a great point of patients still having to pay great amounts for a watered-down service. And you also have to think about the path that technology is leading the healthcare industry down. Because in the past, doctors would answer questions over the phone and email for free, just as part of the doctor-patient relationship.

Sarah: That’s so true, but now that would be labeled as telehealth. 

Jessica: Yep! And I think that during this period of change, it’s important to remind ourselves of the values of healthcare… or at least what values SHOULD be in place. Because I’m afraid, as is the author of this article I read, that our capitalistic society is going to see these technologies as a way to further profit and not as a tool. 

Sarah: Yeah, cause really at the end of the day healthcare is supposed to be about helping people and that human connection. Like if someone is diagnosed with cancer or a life-threatening disease, they don’t want to be handed an iPad that has statistics of their survival on it. They want someone who is comforting and knows how to deliver that kind of news or offer support that they may need during a time of trial. 

Jessica: Yes, that’s exactly the point I’m making! And another really interesting thing brought up in the article was a study that was published in Pediatrics and it found that children who had a telemedicine visit for an upper-respiratory infection were far more likely to get an antibiotic than those who physically saw a doctor. So the study pretty much suggests that overprescribing is at work, which is concerning.

Sarah: Yeah that definitely doesn’t make me think that the patient’s best interest is the main concern.

Jessica: Oh yeah I mean for sure, when it comes to that system, it doesn’t always allow for the doctor to do what is best for the patient, even if they intend to. I mean, it’s hard to diagnose someone over a video when you can’t actually feel a lump or have the patient move in certain ways to determine how serious their illness is. It’s just different. 

Sarah: Right, it’s not necessarily the doctor’s fault, but I could definitely see how it would lead to overprescribing because they probably are thinking they would rather be safe than sorry when it’s harder to determine the seriousness of someone’s illness. Especially in this case when they are dealing with children.

Jessica: Right and obviously, I don’t think that technology is inherently bad for the industry, but studies like this really drive the fact that we need to proceed with caution and make sure that when these technologies are implemented the purpose behind it is still focused on what is best for the patient and not what is going to make more money. Cause doctors may also start to not just use these video calls when a patient doesn’t have the ability to travel, they may just start to encourage it so they can take more patients and ultimately increase their profits. 

Sarah: Definitely. I do think that these types of discussions are important to keep the industry in check and make sure that with every new technology, the patient’s impact is really taken into consideration from all elements. Cause obviously these services are helpful and great, but you can’t forget about some of the cons. And at least if we point them out, we can find ways to improve and fix them. 

All Aboard the Knowledge Train:

Sarah: At Senior Market Advisors, we are committed to serving the underserved. This means we want you to do more than just make sales – we want you to build relationships! In order to really serve a beneficiary, you need to help them understand the enrollment process and earn their trust over time. Our four-point conversation guide can help you do just that, all while staying compliant with CMS’s guidelines.

Jessica: Okay so you enrolled a beneficiary into their new Medicare plan! Yay!! You’re feeling awesome. You’re feeling accomplished! You’re on top of the world. But what now? Well first off… congrats on your new client!! But secondly…. You want to keep this new client of yours right? Well to do that, you need to follow-up and stay in touch (client retention)!

Sarah: Today we are going to talk about 3-30-60-90, a guide to maintaining a relationship with your client 3 days after the sale, 30 days, 60 days and finally 90 days after the sale! If you’re contracted with us, we have a whitepaper called 3-30-60-90 Day Conversation Guide on this topic that can be downloaded for free from our SMA Agent Storefront! Okay, Jessica let’s start with the 3-day marker.

Let’s start with the 3-Day Call. This will be your first call after a beneficiary enrolls in a plan. The purpose of this conversation is to explain what the beneficiary should expect next. So this conversation might sound something like this.

“Hello, my name is Mary and I am calling from Medicare Health Benefits, an independent broker. May I speak with Susan?” 

Jessica: This is Susan!

Sarah: “It was great speaking with you a few days ago and helping you enroll in your new Medicare plan. I’d like to walk you through what you should be expecting from your plan in the upcoming weeks.” 

[and this is where you would continue talking about their new benefit cards, enrollment letters, benefit overviews and other things like that and when they should arrive. Then you’ll want to ask if they have any questions.

Jessica: Nope I think you covered it! 

Sarah: Well Susan I just want to thank you for spending time with me. I’m glad we were able to enroll you into a plan that works for you and your needs. I am always available for any questions you may have so don’t hesitate to call! 

Jessica: Great thank you!!

Sarah: I’ll be checking in in about a month to make sure you received all the appropriate materials and to make sure you understand how to utilize your plan! Thank you and have a wonderful day!

Jessica: So as you just heard, this was really just a follow-up call to make sure that the beneficiary understands what they signed up for, is happy and knows they can contact you for support. You really want them to not just think of you as the person who sold them their plan, you want them to think of you as their Medicare expert. Their go-to person they can rely on for any Medicare-related question or concern. This builds trust and will make them more likely to stick with you!


Sarah: Okay so you’ve made it through the 1st month with your new client. And they haven’t called you once with any issues! Hooray!! Now it’s time for your 30 day call. This call is to follow-up the follow-up, remember, maintaining contact is key. You want to make sure they received all the documents from the carrier and walk them through how to utilize all their new awesome benefits! 

Jessica: So let’s go through what this one might sound like. “Hello, my name is Mary and I am calling from Medicare Health Benefits, an independent broker. May I speak with Susan?” 

Sarah: This is Susan!

Jessica: Hi Susan. Remember me, I helped you enroll in your new Medicare plan!

Sarah: Yes I remember. Thank you!

Jessica: I just wanted to follow-up with you to make sure you received all materials from your new plan carrier.

Sarah: I think so. I got an ID card in the mail and I got some enrollment stuff with a welcome letter and benefits information.

Jessica: Great! I’m happy you received your plan information. Is your premium showing as the same as what we had discussed?

Sarah: Yep, looks like what we talked about.

Jessica: Great! Have you found a doctor in your network that accepts your plan and scheduled your annual check-up? 

Sarah: I did find a doctor close to me. I’m going to see her in a couple weeks.

Jessica: Wonderful! I’m happy to hear that.Have you had any issues at the pharmacy with your new plan?  (Obviously note that this is only applicable for Medicare Advantage plans with Prescription Drug coverage)

Sarah: Yeah looks like it!

Jessica: This is great news. Hey let’s go through how to utilize your benefits and discuss how the breakdown of how services are covered. (this is where you’ll go through their benefits and talk about how they can use their plan) 

Then you’ll wrap up and say – Sounds like everything is going well so far! Once again, if you do run into any hiccups, you have my number so don’t hesitate to call. I plan to call you again in about a month from now to make sure you’re still doing alright.

Sarah: Wow thank you so much. I really appreciate you taking the time.

Jessica: So notice that people really appreciate you going the extra mile to help them fully understand their plan. Let’s be honest, healthcare is super confusing and most people don’t understand all the terminology. So just being that resource to these people and explaining how they can use their plan and just showing you care really goes a long way.


Sarah: Okay so now it’s been about 2 months since the beneficiary enrolled in their plan and at this point, they should be feeling comfortable. This is an awesome time to call and discuss extra services included in their plan and make sure they are happy with their enrollment choice. This conversation might sound something like this.

“Hi Susan, this is Mary and I was just calling to check in to make sure you’re enjoying your new Medicare benefits.”

Sarah: “Yes I am! So far so good.”

Sarah: “Great! I also wanted to make sure you knew about all the extra services your plan offers!” Sidenote: Many of these plans offer things like fitness, dental, vision, telehealth, transportation, OTC benefits and more! Make sure they know about these! Okay, but to the conversation, “Susan did you know that your plan offers $50/quarter in Over-the-Counter benefits and transportation services?”

Jessica: “I didn’t but that sounds great!”

Sarah: Yep. Just wanted to make sure you knew about all the amazing services your plan offers! (Make sure they know that you answer any questions they may have regarding these services and give them any phone numbers and/or websites associated with those services) You had mentioned last time we spoke that you were planning on seeing your doctor. Was your experience positive?

Jessica: Definitely! I am happy I was able to find a doctor close to me who was helpful and friendly. 

Sarah: “Great! I’m happy to hear everything is going well. As always, you can give me a call if any questions come up but otherwise, I will be in touch in about a month.”

Jessica: So here is that extra support that the agent is giving to their client to really show that they care. And once again, driving home the idea that YOU are the person they should call whenever they have questions about their Medicare. This will help you with client retention!


Sarah: Now, we have finally made it to the 90 Day Call!

Jessica: Hooray! Although that was the quickest 90 days I’ve ever experienced. It felt like it was only a few minutes!

Sarah: Yes, it will probably not go by as quickly for you as an agent, so that’s why it is super important to put reminders on your calendar so you don’t forget to follow up!

Jessica: Yeah, that is definitely a good idea. So once you do make it to the 90-day mark, the purpose of your call is going to be client retention. You want to focus on preventive health and ensure they’re getting the most out of their plan.

Sarah: Right, because if a beneficiary is satisfied with their plan then they are more likely to recommend you to friends and family. 

Jessica: Plus! The happier they are with their plan, the more likely you are to keep them as a client (client retention). So this conversation might sound something like this.

Hi Susan! This is Mary. I just wanted to check in with you again to make sure you’re still enjoying your Medicare plan! Have you taken advantage of any of the services we discussed on our last call?

Sarah: “Yes! I used my over the counter benefits last week and got quite a few items for my home! It’s been a lifesaver!”

Jessica: That’s great Susan! Have you taken any proactive steps toward your health like doing a blood pressure check, getting a mammogram or any screenings and tests?

Sarah: Ooh no I haven’t but I probably should get a screening. It’s been a while. 

Jessica: Yep, it’s always better to be proactive on your health so in case you do have some health issue, you catch it early! 

Sarah: Yes great idea.

Jessica: Alright Sarah, if you don’t have any other questions I will let you go. Give me a call if you have any questions or concerns regarding your plan! Have a great day!

Jessica: And the 90 day client retention call doesn’t have to be the last time you contact them! A great way to continue building relationships with beneficiaries is by sending birthday cards, or holiday cards, or contacting them before AEP every year to ensure they are happy. Even little things like if you notice there has been a change to certain plans or networks, you can send them an email to make sure they are aware.

Sarah: Yeah and you may also want to offer to send business cards or brochures you may have so that they can pass them on to their friends and family. Just always make sure that whatever marketing you are doing is compliant with CMS!

Jessica: And again, please make sure that you are keeping a calendar of this stuff! There’s nothing worse than telling a bene that you’re going to call them regularly and then just forgetting about it.

Sarah: Yeah, do you think you’ll retain clients that way? NOPE. They’ll think you don’t have their best interest at heart, don’t care about them, and then you’ll lose their trust. Not only that, if you don’t establish yourself as your client’s first point of content, they will often reach out to the carrier instead, and this could prompt a completely preventable sales allegation, and obviously… you don’t want that!

Jessica: And obviously WE know that you have their best interest at heart, but you have to make it super obvious to them. So schedule reminders, don’t miss those calls and start building those relationships!  

Sarah: Yes, because we guarantee you that if you follow these steps you will succeed in client retention and not only maintain but EXPAND your book of business!

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2020 AEP Preparation Checklist – Ep. 12

In Episode 12, we discuss 2020 AEP Preparation and the features of Anthem’s new AI-driven member app called K Health. K Health uses years of anonymous health data to offer members answers to simple questions related to their health. Members can also chat with doctors via the app.

Next we dive into AEP preparation. SMA put together a preparation checklist outlining 5 important areas to focus on prior to October 15 to ensure a successful AEP! In each area we break down some questions you should be asking yourself as you prepare for this AEP. It’s never too early to start preparing so get started today!

Today’s AEP Preparation: 

  1. Set Goals
    • Have you researched the carriers and products available in your market?
    • Have you set goals for AEP and written them down?
  2. Become Ready to Sell
    • Are you ready to sell with all the carriers you want to sell this AEP?
    • How many carriers are you contracted with?
    • How many certifications do you have to complete?
  3. Know Your Products
    • Have you attended webinars and/or trainings to learn the 2020 benefits for each carrier you are contracted with?
    • Do you know how to use carrier portals and tools?
  4. Order Supplies
    • Don’t wait to order supplies!
    • Do you know how to order supplies from each carrier?
    • How long does the process take from order date to fulfillment?
  5. Market Yourself
    • Do you market your services? If so, how? What’s working?
    • How many tools do you use to market yourself?

With all this talk of AEP preparation, it’s easy to feel stressed out. Jessica and Sarah end the podcast on a positive note by discussing how SMA de-stresses during our busy season: a company cornhole tournament! Want to be featured on the podcast? Share your story with us at

Like what you heard on today’s podcast and want to download the 2020 AEP Preparation Checklist? DOWNLOAD HERE.

Follow us on social media and share our podcast postings with the #SellingSMART to be entered to win an Amazon Echo Dot!

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Twitter: @SeniorMarketAdv

Why Sell Medicare Supplement Plans – Ep. 10

In Episode 10, Sarah and Jessica focus on the benefits of Medicare Supplement, Amazon’s Alexa, and how voice assistants are disrupting the healthcare industry. While there are many ways Amazon’s Alexa can help beneficiaries with their healthcare needs now and in the future, there are also privacy and data breach concerns. We break down the good, the bad, and the inevitable.

We also bring on SMA’s Andy Watkins, VP of Sales and Business Development to share his expertise on Medicare Supplement Plans. Andy and Sarah discuss what Medicare Supplement plans are, break down some of the plan types, and compare Medicare Supplements to Medicare Advantage. Andy also goes over Medicare Supplement enrollment periods, compliance concerns surrounding Medicare Supplements, the commission rates, and why new agents should start out selling Medicare Supplement Plans!

We conclude this episode with a story from Andy about how Medicare Supplement Plans have benefited him and his family directly, giving you one more reason to want to sell Medicare Supplements AND smile! Want to be featured on the podcast? Share your story with us at

Follow us on social media and share our podcast postings with the #SellingSMART to be entered to win an Amazon Echo Dot!

Facebook: Senior Market Advisors

Instagram: @SeniorMarketAdvisors

Twitter: @SeniorMarketAdv

Why Sell Medicare Supplement Plans – Ep. 10 Full Transcript

Sarah: Welcome to Episode 10 of Selling SMART with Sarah Smith….

Jessica: And Jessica Vara!

Sarah: In today’s episode… we’re going to start with a technology that is disrupting the healthcare industry! Then we interview Andy Watkins about Medicare Supplements and why you should be selling it!

Disruptive Waves:

Jessica: So obviously Amazon’s Alexas have been out for a while now and I remember when they first came out people were a little freaked out. I’ve heard stories about toddlers ordering toys without their parents even knowing. Actually, didn’t that happen to our CEO, Jeff Pitta?

Sarah: Yeah, I think so. I’m pretty sure one of his kids told Alexa to order a toy that they wanted and then it just appeared at our office one day.

Jessica: I thought so! Yeah, I just think that’s really funny. How different our world is with technology nowadays and what’s really interesting is that now they are using Alexa in the world of Medicare! 

Sarah: Oh yeah, I’ve heard about stuff like that! Apparently, Amazon has said that Alexa is now able to follow HIPAA guidelines and they have already invited six health companies to develop voice programs or “skills” using their Alexa system. So customers of those specific organizations would be able to use Alexa to make appointments or access personal medical information like blood sugar readings.

Jessica: Huh, that’s interesting. So would these companies or Amazon begin to offer products that sync up with the actual speaker system itself, kinda like how your iWatch can track your fitness and all of that information can also transmit to your phone?

Sarah: I think that’s the idea behind it.

Jessica: You know what’s really fascinating to me is how all of this is going to be received by the public. I mean, in theory, it all sounds great and very innovative, but also I know many people and I feel like especially seniors are a little sketched out by all of these advancements in technology. 

Sarah: Oh for sure. I feel like the fact that a device is always listening to you to some degree is a scary thought. I do know that is something that has been brought up about this in particular, because if Amazon offers this they will then have access to a lot of personal information and there is a concern of what they could do with it. 

Jessica: Yeah and from what I’ve read, it sounds like the data that they have access to is going to depend on what Amazon’s relationship is with the particular health organizations. For instance, Livongo is a company whose voice skills lets users check their blood sugar reading, so when it comes to that Alexa is just there to transmit the information. Alexa will access the data from the Livongo cloud to relay to the patient their reading, but all that patient information is stored with Livongo and Amazon can’t do anything with it. 

Sarah: I feel like that’s pretty reassuring!

Jessica: I agree! The only other argument I will make though is that if this becomes a normal thing and Amazon has dealt with a large amount of organizations, I could see an increase in people trying to hack into their system. And while Amazon is a large company that probably has good defense for things like that, I wonder if it would make it easier for these smaller companies to have their information leaked in some way. Does that make sense?

Sarah: Well and I think the other concern is that there is no official certification process for becoming HIPAA compliant, it’s more of a self-implemented process and there aren’t really many formularies. And out of all the HIPAA requirements, the Security Rule can be the most difficult for companies to follow. 

Jessica: And just a quick sidebar: The Security Rule for HIPAA establishes a national standard to protect individuals’ electronic personal health information that is created, received, used, or maintained by a covered entity. So it requires appropriate administrative, physical and technical safeguards to ensure the confidentiality, integrity, and security of electronically protected health information. 

Sarah: Right! But the issue with that is companies need to have a strong security infrastructure in place, which can be very expensive for large companies, especially if they are using older technology that needs to be updated.

Jessica: Yeah, so that could deter organizations from wanting to participate or since there isn’t really a formal way of checking, some organizations could think they have a pretty secure system but not. I feel like that’s where people get a little weary of the whole idea.

Sarah: I can definitely see where they are coming from, but I think it’s also important for us to recognize the benefits that this could create for healthcare. I mean, the harder it is for people to see the doctor, the less likely they are to get care and improve their health. 

Jessica: Oh no, you’re definitely right! I mean this opens up a lot of doors. And I know another thing that they are trying to use Alexa for is people being able to find an urgent care nearby and make same-day appointments, so from the standard of creating more easy and accessible healthcare, it’s definitely a good thing!

Sarah: Exactly. We are just in a time where there is so much we can do with technology, we just have to make sure that it is implemented in a way that is ethical and has more pros than cons.

Jessica: Yep! It will be really interesting to see what comes of this and how it expands the marketplace!  

All Aboard the Knowledge Train:

Sarah: Last time we talked about why you should be selling Medicare Advantage. Today we are going to talk about Medicare Supplements and all the amazing reasons you want to sell those plans as well!

We’ve got Andy Watkins with us to go over Medicare Supplement Plans with us today and he’s got a TON of awesome reasons to share with you all today! So Andy can you just introduce yourself real quick.

[Andy Introduction]

Alright Andy, let’s start with the basics of Medicare Supplement Plans. We chatted a bit earlier in the day and even though I have a background in Medicare now, I really just didn’t know much about Med Supp. So can you just go over how Medicare Supplement Plans are different from Medicare Advantage and how they work?

Plans are standardized meaning most plans with the same letters have the same benefits across state lines.

While a lot of Medicare Supplement plans offer more coverage, they also generally have higher premiums. So they aren’t for everyone.

Medicare pays 80%. Supps cover the other 20%.

New types. Anthem coming out with additional benefit package beyond what the plan covers. Supplement to the supplement. 

Therapy 3 times a week will cost a fortune on MA, but with Medicare Supplement he pays Part B deductible and his premium. There is no max out of pocket. He can go as many time as he wants

Pay as you go or pay up front. Med Supps are pay up front. MA is pay as you go.

Only about 30% of Medicare beneficiaries are in a Medicare Advantage plan which means you could be helping the remaining 70% get into a Medicare Supplement plan giving them extra coverage!

So if you go a lot then it makes more sense even though its higher premium.

I’ve been hearing a lot about the fact that plans C & F are going away. Can you talk a little bit about that?

2020 MACRA goes into effect. Plan C & F are going away. Medicare no longer feels they should cover the part b deductible. Once they started doing that going to plan g because of MACRA.

Why would people want Plan G? It’s just easy. F & G — they just pay a premium and that’s about it.

MA plan you still pay Part B premium but you don’t pay any premium on top of that because they are $0 premium plans.

With Medicare Advantage there are strict enrollment periods, but is it the same with Medicare Supplement Plans?

  • Depending on the state, every year on your birthday and 30 days after your bday you can get into a Medicare Supplement.
  • Some states have open enrollment periods. 
  • Outside of the initial enrollment period, most states you’re going to have to go through some type of underwriting.
    • You’ll have to answer questions about health. 
    • You might get denied. 
    • If you’re within the enrollment period then you don’t have to answer any questions.

You can sell year-round. There is a Medigap open enrollment but there are many ways to get it outside of that.

What’s the compliance like with Medicare Supplement Plans

Compliance is a whole lot easier around Medicare Supplement than Medicare Advantage.

  • You can cold call for Medicare Supplement. Not as much compliance around that either.
  • You can door knock for Medicare Supplement.
  • You don’t have to do a scope of appointment. For the Part D part you will.
  • e-Apps available for most carriers so you can easily sell over the phone
  • With e-app you need to send the e-app through their e-app system and it will send an e-app signature. 
    • Bene needs an email address in order to fill out an e-app.

Alright Andy, let’s talk commission. What’s the commission like with Medicare Supplement Plans?

Commission. Lets say med supp monthly premium is $130 X 12 to come up with $1560 _> that is annual premium.

There is no new to medicare. It’s all the same.

  • Average street level comp is usually about 21% on a supp plan. 
  • So 21% of $1560 is about $327.60. 
  • So you’ll get about $327.60 on annual basis for up to 6 years. 
  • From year 6-10 the percentage will probably drop, depends on the carrier. 
  • Most carriers don’t do lifetime comp for med supp anymore. So you’ll get paid on those 10 years.
  • People stay on Medicare Supplement plans for life. So they’re more likely to stay on one plan for 10 years. Whereas MA you might be switching them every few years so you might lose your client to someone else.

What’s the main reason you would recommend selling Medicare Supplement Plans to an agent?

  • Ease of use.
  • You don’t have to certify. Most carriers don’t have a certification. 
  • If you’re new to the business, get started selling Medicare Supplement plans so you can get started and learn medicare and you can get goin a lot faster.
  • You can sign a contract and start selling tomorrow with some carriers.
  • You don’t have to worry about networks. If they take medicare, any doctor that takes medicare, you can see them on a supplement. No referrals, easy access. Not limited to a network.

Ending on a Positive Note:

Jessica: Alright everyone, that concludes today’s podcast episode. 

Sarah: If you want to learn more about how Senior Market Advisors can help get you started in the Medicare Advantage space, give us a call at 844-334-6066. If you want to be featured on the podcast, visit and click on the button that says “Share Your Story.” 

Jessica: We appreciate you joining us this week on Selling SMART 

Sarah: with Senior Market Advisors!