Archive for March 3rd, 2009

I recently found this letter from CMS to Medicare Advantage Health plans dated last week where CMS warns health plans about the practice of “Pay for Referrals”.  (Click to view:  cms_2009_02_24)

I had never heard of any companies who were doing this.  I even called a few contacts and no one seemed to know what this was even talking about, so I wasn’t sure even if it was something to add to my blog (not knowing any examples of the practice, etc.)

Today, I finally found an article which mentioned the practice.  Seems this was done mainly in Florida where payouts for enrollments were much higher in 2008 than most of the rest of the country.

In other news. . .

I’ve been getting questions from brokers like, “When will I be getting the other half of my Medicare Advantage commissions?”  The only sniff of news on this front comes at the end of the CMS letter. . .

In the second to last paragraph of the CMS letter, they mention that they will be issuing lists of “New to Medicare/New to Medicare Advantage” members to the Medicare Advantage Health Plans “. . several times in 2009″.  Nothing specific on exactly when, which is troublesome.  I checked with a few insiders and I didn’t get any clues there either. 

I am, at least, slightly encouraged that at least this is somewhere on the CMS radar.  I was getting a bit nervous that, with 2010 bids around the corner, the small matter of agents getting paid the other 50% of the commissions they earned on the work they did 4 months ago, which had already been lowered on Christmas Eve after much of the work was already done, might become an even lower priority than it apparently already is. 

WE NEED SOME STIMULUS OVER HERE, PLEASE!!!  (I could rant on this topic for many more paragraphs, but I’ve probably already said enough?)

If I hear anything further, I will post!

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Here is the link to listen to the recording!  You will need to turn the volume up as the sound is pretty low.

Please post any comments on the re-design below!!

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On Monday, March 2nd, Ritter Insurance launched it’s redesigned website.  Primarily, the changes were intended to make the website easier to navigate.  Since CMS (and many of our Insurance Companies) frown on having product and benefit information accessible on a public website, it is necessary to require a “login” to view certain pages.  This made our website more difficult to use.  The changes were primarily to make the site ease to use while maintaining compliance of “protected information”.  Here is an overview of the changes:

  • Change to Login Procedure. 
    • Previously, the website would “time out” the user after 15 minutes of inactivity.  Further, if the browser windows were closed, the website required the user to login again.
    • Currently, the user has the option to “keep me logged in until I log out”.  Initially, if this box is checked upon log in, the user will not be logged out for 24 hours of inactivity.  As we monitor the performance of the website with multiple connections, we may extend the “continuous login” feature.  Additionally, you can close your browser and return to the website (for up to 24 hours) and you will still be logged in.
    • WARNING:  If you are using the website on a computer which is not your own (like a public library, etc.) DO NOT check the “keep me logged in” box or be SURE to “Log out” when you are finished your session.
  • Navigation Menu
    • Previously, the top Navigation bar was lost when the user was accessing certain “Agent Use Only” features of our website.  Specifically, this included:  Quote Engine, Licensing, Service Requests, Resources (Forms), Leads, Viewing Company Appointment Data and Changing the User’s Contact information or Password.  Additionally, in order to move from one activity to another, the User had to  exit the current activity before selecting a new activity.
    • Currently, the user can access any of these features directly from the home page with “one click”.  Further, the user can jump from one section to another in “one click”.
  • Logical Progression Across Navigation Bar
    • Previously, much of the content in our website was not clearly evident from our navigation bar.  For example, the “Agent Gateway” link provided Quotes, Licensing, etc.
    • Currently, as Navigation Bar progresses from Left to Right, it will walk the user through a logical progression of carrier selection and information contained in the website.  For example, the user can begin by “Quoting” in their area, Getting licensing for a particular company, downloading/ordering sales materials, learning about the company’s underwriting or submission procedures, etc.
  • Permanent Links for Website Features
    • Previously, the website addresses for key features (like Quote Engine, Licensing, Service Requests, etc.) were different for each agent in our network.
    • Currently, the website addresses are fixed for every agent in our network.  This makes it MUCH easier to direct you to a webpage within a blog post, e-mail, webpage or other online communications.
      • For example, to access Medicare Quote Engine, the direct link is http://www.ritterim.com/Gateway/QuoteEngine.aspx.  If you are “logged in”, you will be taken DIRECTLY to Medicare Quote Engine.  If you are not logged in, you will be asked to enter your E-mail address and password, then you will be taken directly to MQE.
      • To access your Contact Information, the direct link is http://www.ritterim.com/Gateway/UpdateContact.aspx.  Again, you will be taken directly to the “Update Contact Information” page (if logged in).

The top Navigation Bar has been changed.  Here is an overview of the features of each of the links contained in the Nav Bar.

  • Home – Center Section includes our welcome.  Bottom section is an RSS Feed of recent changes to our Content pages (Carrier Profiles on the Left and Blog on the Right.)
  • Quotes – Medicare Quote Engine
  • Licensing – If you are authorized to view online licensing paperwork, you can download “prefilled” GA contracting paperwork or download Assignment of Commission or License only Agent (LOA) paperwork.
  • Sales Material
    • Forms – Access our Library of Electronic Forms (Applications, Rate Sheets, Outlines of Coverage, etc)
    • Supplies – How to order Paper Supplies from our various carriers.
    • Prospecting – Our current Lead programs, plus the CMA approved prospecting materials from our various companies.
  • Carrier Profiles – Currently broken down into Medicare Advantage, Medicare Supplement and Final Expense.  This link will give you current information on how to certify, how to submit business, underwriting, commission information, contact phone numbers, fax numbers, website addresses, information on Provider Networks, product information and more.  These links are designed to be the “HOW TO” guide of working with our various companies.
  • Connect To – Various ways of access our information and training.
    • Blog – Current Events in the Senior Market
    • Events Calendar – Various training events, including Conference Calls, Webex training or Live Workshops hosted by us or the Insurance Companies we represent.
    • View Desktops – Online Desktop Sharing utility which allows you to instantly see our computer screens.  This is useful for training on how to use various certification websites, etc.
    • Live Webex – Join a live Webex hosted by Ritter Insurance Marketing
    • Recorded Webex – View a previously recorded Webex.
  • My Info – Allows you to view our Information about you.
    • Insurance Companies – Status and Information about your various Insurance Company appointments with Ritter Insurance Marketing.
    • Service Requests – Status of the things we are working on for you.
    • Contact Info – Your Contact information.  (This is what populates on your appointment paperwork.)
    • Change Password
  • My Leads – View information on your “Self-Generated” leads or the Information on the leads we have assigned for you under various lead programs (some pay/lead and some carrier sponsored free leads).
  • About – Information about our company.

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