In 2020, 18.4% of Americans were covered by Medicare—that’s nearly 60 million people, or close to 1 out of every 5 people in the entire country. Knowing those numbers, it’s easy to imagine why an agent might want to tap into that large customer base and become a Medicare insurance agent.
But Medicare is run by the federal government, which makes it different from private health insurance in several key ways. If you want to learn how to become a Medicare insurance agent, it’s important to do your research and know the answers to common customer questions.
In this article, insurance leader Thomas Ntuk addresses those very questions, makes recommendations for successfully selling Medicare products, and outlines a guide to gathering leads when you’re an agent getting started in Medicare.
Common Questions For The Aspiring Medicare Insurance Agent
When are customers eligible for applying for Medicare and Medicare supplements?
Most customers become eligible at 65 years old (although some people with specific disabilities are eligible prior to age 65). Most start exploring Medicare plans and supplements shortly before they turn 65.
Insurance agents generally begin sending people communications and solicitations when they turn 64 (or even before). While customers may respond to these offers as they build up, most customers in this age group prefer to talk to a familiar face or voice—more on this later on.
How is Medicare sign up structured for customers?
Medicare is an individual insurance plan (there are no spouse or family plans) that covers most costs for approved health care services and products.
Customers sign up for Medicare using the following process:
- They apply for Part A (Hospital Insurance) and Part B (Medical Insurance),
- They choose whether they want Original Medicare (which carries with it the choice to add Part D for prescription coverage and supplemental insurance) or Part C (Medicare Advantage).
- If they choose Original Medicare, they then have to select the level of supplemental coverage they desire. This is where knowledgeable insurance agents can help with the process.
What can insurance agents sell related to Medicare?
Most of the time, insurance agents sell Medicare supplements, also called Medigap policies, which are insurance products designed to help cover the portion of medical bills that Original Medicare won’t cover.
What is the advantage of a Medicare supplement for customers?
There are two advantages: First, with Medicare supplements in addition to their base health plan, customers often pay nothing (or next to nothing) out of pocket for their medical care.
Second, the power of Medicare + supplements allows customers to calculate their exact medical expenses and budget accordingly.
What does an agent need to begin selling Medicare supplements?
Before entering this particular field, agents should consider attaining:
- The appropriate license, whether that be a general health insurance license or a more specialized license
- Extra Medicare education and certification, especially if it is required by your company or state, or offered to you free of charge via an insurance provider partnership (one example: Humana’s CORE certifications)
Why can selling Medicare supplements be advantageous for a growing insurance agent?
Selling Medicare supplements helps retain your customers as they enter retirement age. For other types of insurance plans, customer loyalty is often based on how much the customer can save in monthly premiums; as soon as another agent offers a better deal, there’s a good chance the customer will leave. With Medicare products, customer loyalty is driven by the customer’s relationship with their agent and their attachment to desired health plans.
If you’re currently serving any customers age 64 and up, you can offer them a more holistic service by explaining Medicare products. Medicare and its accompanying supplements are confusing to navigate, so your willingness to guide customers will be seen as a valuable extra service.
How quickly does Medicare sell as a product?
Medicare sales are not a get-rich-quick scheme. Medicare selling revolves around relationships; it’s not a transactional field.
That’s mostly because the older demographic will often not even entertain a call from an insurance agent until they’ve received consistent mailings or communications. They often prefer to speak with someone they feel they know or someone who has been recommended to them by word of mouth.
Why do agents sometimes avoid selling Medicare supplements?
There are some disadvantages to selling this type of product. Some include:
- Slower sales
- Hesitant customer base (particularly before a relationship is established)
- Lower commissions
- Slower communication (customers who want phone calls and Zoom calls over quick texts and emails)
Why should agents consider selling Medicare supplements?
First, Medicare can be profitable. Of course, profitable is relative. Medicare does offer a unique earning structure and a customer subset that is typically wealthier and often more loyal than other subsets. And it can also offer significant profit opportunities in the long term—if you’re determined to nurture long-lasting relationships with your clients and serve them well.
Commissions are overall lower, so agents that sell this type of supplement only see profit if they exercise patience and goodwill. However, the premiums are not insignificant: Medicare supplement premiums are usually a minimum of $2,000 per year, and these customers typically last much longer with one insurance agent than the average auto or home customer.
You may also see growth in your other products if you choose to reach out to Medicare supplement customers. For example: Customers 64 years old and up are often wealthier and have larger communities of children and grandchildren; thus, if you create a relationship with them via Medicare supplements, they may also purchase life insurance or other plans for themselves, their children, or their grandchildren.
Top Tips For Selling Medicare Products
With all the above information in mind, here are some do’s and don’ts if you’re looking to get started in Medicare supplements:
Don’t go in with the intent of making quick profits.
Do enter this field with the intent to be of service and guide your customers through a major milestone in their lives. Profits will follow.
Don’t wait until you become an expert in Medicare products.
Do achieve your basic certification, then begin to sell with humility, knowing you’ll have to research and find answers for your customers along the way.
Don’t start selling until you have the proper resources.
Do start selling when you have a company, mentor, or a team around you that you can rely on as you field Medicare questions.
Don’t expect to make outrageous, large commissions.
Do expect to receive a steady stream of income from your Medicare customers.
How can I gather Medicare leads for agents?
Whether you’re gathering leads for yourself or for agents employed in your office, it’s imperative to build a reliable network as you enter Medicare sales.
Medicare-qualified customers are relationship-driven. My best piece of advice is to start from your existing client base and get referrals from them. Build out from this point, asking each new Medicare customer to talk to their friends and family and recommend you for Medicare supplements. Word of mouth is powerful for this demographic.
Of course, when selling Medicare supplements—and especially when you’re first getting started—you can also purchase qualified auto, home and life leads from a one-stop shop like EverQuote.
EverQuote is dedicated to helping you gain resources and leads for successfully selling Medicare products—and as mentioned above, these customers are often primed to want information and guidance in the area of Medicare. Prepare yourself to offer new Medicare products by building a qualified lead base and by studying high-quality agent resources—and from there, enjoy providing your customers with a valuable service to supplement their health needs.
Contact EverQuote today to learn more about how qualified auto, home and life leads can help build your book of business and deliver you the prospects to deepen your relationship through Medicare products!