You’ve heard this advice from AHCP before: communicate with your clients regularly to provide additional value, stay top-of-mind, and stand out in the crowd of agents vying for your clients’ attention. This will help increase retention and will likely lead to additional referral business. But that’s easier said than done, mainly because many agents don’t know what they should be communicating. Most people don’t want to talk or read about health insurance all year long, so what can we tell our Medicare clients that they’ll actually want to hear?
Sharing news stories is a great communication strategy
One idea is to share news items that might be of interest to them. This is a good strategy for a few reasons:
- It’s easy: You’re simply passing along information with a short note explaining what it means and why it’s important. You don’t have to create the content from scratch.
- It’s proactive There’s a lot of information—as well as a lot of misinformation—out there. Without your insight about how these news stories affect your clients, they may misinterpret what they read or see on TV. It’s a lot easier to educate your clients and help shape their opinions upfront than to try to clear up the confusion down the road.
- It will save you time: The fact is that there are frequent changes that could have an impact on your clients, which means you’ll need to discuss it with them sooner or later. By passing on this sort of news as it breaks, it will shorten the amount of time you have to spend addressing these changes and answering questions during the busy Annual Election Period.
What type of news should you share?
Obviously, any news stories that you think your client either should read or would like to read are worth passing on. With that said, here are three types of news stories you might want to share with your Medicare-eligible clients, each with a recent example:
Good News: Good news, as the name implies, is something your clients will be happy about. Usually it involves new legislation that will benefit them or a positive change to their insurance coverage.
For example, the Inflation Reduction Act, which President Biden recently signed into law, makes a number of major changes which should help seniors save money. Those changes are outlined in an August 22 MarketWatch article entitled “9 ways the Inflation Reduction Act affects Medicare coverage, and what it means for you.”
The article points out that, in 2026, Medicare will begin negotiating prices on the prescriptions for which it has spent the most money and that these negotiated drugs will be included in the formularies for all Medicare Part D plans. Additionally, in 2025, “out-of-pocket spending for Medicare Part D prescription drugs will be capped at $2,000.” And beginning in 2024, beneficiaries who reach the catastrophic coverage level on their Part D plan will no longer pay a coinsurance amount. So those are all good things to look forward to. There are a couple changes that kick in in 2023: 1) Insulin will be capped at $35, and 2) drug price increases cannot exceed the rate of inflation.
There has been a lot of news coverage about the Inflation Reduction Act, so clients will almost certainly be interested in learning how the new law affects their coverage.
Relevant Information: Relevant information is something that definitely impacts your clients, but it may not necessarily be good news; instead, it might be neutral or even bad news.
For example, you may want to let your clients know before the AEP that, due to new regulations, you will be recording any phone call in which you discuss Medicare Advantage or Medicare Part D plans. You could then link to a news story about the requirement for those who want to learn more. But with a little finesse you can turn this into a positive; for example, you might inform them that recording calls is to protect them from people who prey on our Medicare population. Agents who comply with this new regulation have nothing to hide.
Warnings: Warnings can help protect your clients by putting them on notice about potential threats.
For example, an August 23 story by WGAL in Lancaster, PA warns seniors about a “fake offer for Medicare recipients to get free COVID-19 tests.” According to the article, which is based on a warning from the Federal Trade Commission, “Con artists are calling people and running websites and television ads to try to convince people to give their Medicare information to get the tests. But if you give them your information,” the article warns, “they'll bill fraudulent charges to Medicare.” The story says that “Medicare recipients have signed up for these free COVID-19 tests and never got them. What makes matters worse is that scammers could also bill for other products and services people don't need.”
It’s important that seniors know, as the FTC points out, that “Medicare does in fact cover 8 free COVID-19 tests a month” during the public health emergency, “but no one from Medicare will call you with an offer. If someone calls and says they’re from Medicare and offers you a ‘free COVID test,’ hang up right away.” Let your clients know that they can call you anytime if they are unsure of unsolicited offers.
Three Different Sharing Strategies
Some agents post news stories and other information that their clients might find interesting on their website, often in the form of blog posts. While this can be useful for clients who are specifically searching for more info, it requires action on the client’s part; if they don’t visit your website, they miss the story.
For that reason, if you choose to post news on your website, it’s a good idea to then share that information on social media with a link to the full post. This only works, of course, if your clients or prospects are actually following you.
Another option is to put together a monthly newsletter. This allows you to compile several different stories you want to share so clients can read it all at once. Newsletters are great because clients can subscribe to them and then receive them automatically when they’re ready. Unfortunately, a lot of newsletters go unread. Some people intend to read them, but they just don’t get around to it. The other problem with newsletters is that it’s a big commitment – you need to fill them with lots of content whether you have something relevant to share or not. That can result in some boring reading during slow news cycles. And if your clients don’t find the newsletter interesting and applicable, they may unsubscribe or simply ignore future issues.
A final option is to share the information via email. With this strategy, you’ll want to let your clients know that you won’t spam them and that you’ll only share information that you believe is important to them, so if they see an email from you they need to be sure to open and read it. Then, of course, you need to hold up your end of the bargain. You might go months at a time without sending an email, then you might send two or three in one month if a lot of news is breaking.
Whatever communication method you use, remember to give your clients a way to opt out of the communications at any time. This doesn’t mean they don’t like you or that they’re about to fire you as their agent; it may simply mean that they’re not reading the material and want to reduce the amount of clutter in their inbox. It’s also a good idea to remind clients that you’re available if they ever need assistance and that you’d be happy to help anyone they know with their Medicare questions. And if you have any Medicare questions, don’t hesitate to call AHCP and ask or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.