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!