We Have Made It!
AEP 2023 has come and gone this year. Well, at least for the most part. If you are a Medicare agent, you know the relief you feel knowing December 7th has passed, and you can get back to some normalcy and enjoy the holiday season. As we know, this is not always the case. We know over the next few weeks, we will have issues pop up we will need to fix, and come January 1st, we will have the OEP period starting.
In previous years around this time, I usually put out an article about following up with your clients to make sure they have received their materials and to inquire if they have any questions about their new plan. This is still necessary, but I am going to take a different approach this year. This is also a perfect time to do some planning for 2024 by reviewing what went well and not so well this past AEP.
The new 48 rule on SOA (Scope of Appointment) threw a wrench into the way we scheduled appointments this year, and I believe while things are fresh in our minds, we need to look at what we could have done better in terms of getting our SOAs and scheduling our appointments. I received a lot of feedback from agents who admitted they were going to prepare more this next season to collect SOAs ahead of AEP. Please remember that the SOAs are good for 12 months!
I have also heard from agents towards the end of AEP that they were exhausted. Agents need to pace themselves throughout AEP and utilize the Thanksgiving holiday as a time to rest and come back refreshed to finish AEP strong. We might as well discuss our appointments, how long they take, and how many we can fit in one day. Clients do understand this time of year is short, and we do not have time for a lot of small talk. We must be cautious and understand most retired individuals aren’t in a rush, and you don’t want them to feel rushed. We want to be efficient with our time but also be courteous.
Another thing to consider is what we are discussing in our appointments. We see an increase in our Medicare supplement applications during AEP because a lot of agents will review their Part D plans and will review their Medicare supplements during the same appointment. This is fine, but I also think if you are struggling with limited time to meet your clients to review their drug plan, you might want to consider reviewing their Medicare supplement after the 1st of the year when you can visit with them and make sure they received their new policy information and to answer any question they may have.
The location of our appointments has become a more significant factor these last two years with the new CMS regulations on telephonic appointments. Many of our agents decided to focus more on scheduling face-to-face appointments to avoid these new rules. Making more face-to-face appointments has complicated the scheduling process and the amount of time spent completing an appointment; as we know, phone appointments are naturally shorter.
Pre-AEP communication is essential. Being able to send out a letter to your client to remind them of AEP and collecting their medications and SOA forms will save you time. You will be able to have the SOA in hand and ready to schedule an appointment, but you will also review their plan and see if they need to make a change or not. If you can only schedule appointments for those who need to make a change, that will help you utilize your time better. Just remember you can schedule other appointments after AEP, like Medicare supplement reviews that are not time-sensitive. We also have tools built within our Search & Save system that allow agents to send out a PURL link to their clients, and the client can update their information automatically so that agents do not have to spend time inputting medications and more. Please reach out to me if you would like to learn more about this great feature.
I want to thank all of you for your hard work through this AEP and how you were able to adapt to the changes. This AEP was very smooth and successful. 2024 will be even better. For agents who are looking to get into Medicare sales, the first part of 2024 is for you. I will be teaching Medicare University again and will have a class in Salina, KS, Oklahoma City, OK, Denver, CO, and Grand Junction, CO. For those who may not be able to attend my face-to-face class, I will also have an online program and will offer an advanced class for those who really want to dig into Medicare Advantage plans and Part D plans. Keep an eye open for class registrations!