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Archive for November 23rd, 2011

Do you need insurance product training? RitterIm.com has an up-to-date posting of all the top carriers’ trainings on our event calendar. Registration is “one click” away at Ritter Insurance’s “Events’ Calendar”! (You must be logged in to register!)
  • Monday, November 28th; Washington National New Group Process & Procedures Training webinar is open to all agents.  IBC Sales Training webinar is open to all licensed IBC agents. Coventry SFL; Florida NDP Broker CCP Product Training is being held in Miami, FL.
  • Tuesday, November 29th; Baltimore Life Tele-sales Training for Silver Guard Products Using INSpeed and Baltimore Life Silver Guard Training webinars are open to all Baltimore Life licensed agent.
  • Wednesday, November 30th; No Scheduled Trainings at this time.
  • Thursday, December 1st; Baltimore Life Silver Guard Training webinar is open to all Baltimore Life licensed agent.
  • Friday, December 2nd; No Scheduled Trainings at this time.
  • Monday, December 5th; IBC Sales Training webinar is open to all licensed IBC agents. Coventry SFL; Florida NDP Broker CCP Product Training is being held in Hollywood, FL.

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Here is a poem about Thanksgiving written by my 9 year old daughter, Callie.  I hope you enjoy it!

THANKSGIVING

by Callie Ritter

November 2011

T is together, differences aren’t bad,

H is for hope, one thing they had.

A is America, isn’t it grand?

            They traveled the ocean to “N”, the

New land.

K is for kindness, never thought it would happen,

S is for stuffed, never want to eat again.

G is for games that they played after dinner,

I for imagine how to survive a whole winter.

V is for venture, that they did around,

I is for Indians, Pilgrims they found.

N’s Native Americans, what they’re really name-ed

G is for gathering, and then say “Amen”.

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Quality Health Plan of FL has been ordered to be liquidated as of 12/1/2012.  Here is the story from TheLedger.com.  The plan had 10,242 members as of September of 2011 who will be automatically enrolled in a Humana drug plan and Original Medicare as of 12/1/2012.  All of the members will also get a Special Election to choose a new plan and have guarantee issue rights to obtain Medigap coverage, if they so choose.

Here is a breakdown of the plan’s membership by county obtained from a CMS report:

Bradford 11
Brevard 477
Charlotte 79
Citrus 170
Clay 241
Duval 682
Hernando 121
Hillsborough 187
Indian River 1,044
Lake 147
Lee 154
Manatee 83
Marion 107
Martin 317
Okeechobee 389
Orange 166
Osceola 118
Palm Beach 20
Pasco 426
Pinellas 360
Polk 2,696
Sarasota 109
Seminole 44
St. Johns 33
St. Lucie 660
Sumter 103
Volusia 918

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The PA DOI studied the issue of whether the state should create an insurance exchange for Pennsylvania and determined that an exchange should be created.  Now, they have to work with the Congress and Governor of PA to create enabling legislation to build the exchange.  Here is the story from the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.

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Cigna has cleared the first hurdle in it’s acquisition of Medicare advantage provider, HealthSpring.  Here is a link to the story from CBS News.

The Cigna/HealthSpring deal was valued at $3.8 billion and was the largest in a series of acquisitions in the Medicare advantage market which have occurred in 2011.

Virtually all of the major carriers in the Medicare advantage market have completed sizable deals in 2011 including UnitedHealth, Humana, WellPoint and Cigna.  The only major player who is yet to make an acquisition is Aetna (but there are still a few weeks left in 2011!)  Earlier this year, however, Aetna did acquire a Medicare Supplement business from Genworth, so they seem to like to business.

Earlier this week, United announced the acquisition of XLHealth which further reduced the number of potential candidates.

I commented back in August that I felt the deals would continue and I still feel the same.

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On Monday, the Congressional “Super Committee” failed to reach any agreement on a proposal to trim the Federal Debt by $1.2 trillion over a 10 year period.  The committee was formed as a part of the Debt Ceiling legislation passed several months ago.  Due to this failure, there will be automatic spending cuts which will occur over the next 10 years.  Some of these cuts will happen to Medicare, but what impact does this have for the insurance agent selling Medicare products?

First, it should be noted that the spending cuts will not occur until 2013.  Therefore, it is possible that Congress could take some action in the interim.  It is difficult for me to imagine this happening with a divided Congress in an election year (and a Presidential election).

Assuming no intervening Legislation passes and is signed into law, the cuts to Medicare will amount to 2% in 2013 to providers.  So what is the likelihood that this cut will actually happen and what would it mean if it does occur?

Looking at the likelihood of the cut being allowed to happen, one need look no further than the Sustainable Growth Model (SRG) cuts which are slated to occur to Medicare’s Physician Fee Schedule.  It may surprise you to hear that a 27% cut is already written into current law to happen on January 1st, 2012 (5 short weeks away!)  How Congress and the President deal with the upcoming “Doc Fix” issue will give clues to how a 2% cut in 2013 would likely be treated.

Historically, Congress and the President have intervened EVERY TIME a cut to the Medicare Physician’s Fee Schedule was required by law and they “found the money” every time to maintain or slightly increase Physician’s fees.

Why would we expect the 2% Medicare provider cut to be treated any differently?

Even in a worse case, if the cuts happen, the Medicare cuts will not affect Medicare’s benefits.  The cuts will reduce payments to the providers.  The downside here is that some providers may “opt out” of Medicare.  Obviously, this is a major problem, but keep in mind that we’re not talking about cuts to Medicare beneficiaries benefits.  Any impact would result in decreased choice.

Finally, on the Medicare Advantage side, even assuming the cuts occur, the impact to the MA market would be minimal.  Since the reimbursement rates to providers are based on a percentage of Medicare rates (often higher than Medicare rates) the cut would essentially be passed along to the provider.  Again, this could create a disincentive for providers to participate in the Medicare advantage market, but I don’t see this as impacting benefits or premiums.

In summary, agents should keep an eye on the “Doc Fix” legislation coming late this year as a harbinger of what impact, if any, may result from the automatic cuts to Medicare triggered by the Debt Ceiling legislation and the Super Committee’s failure to come up with a proposal.

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The National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) passed a resolution yesterday in support of agents and brokers “vital role” as consumer advocates in the Health Insurance market place.  The vote was 26-20 in support of the resolution which called on Health and Human Services (HHS) and Congress to take action to preserve agent’s role.

Here is a link to the Press Release from NAHU on the Resolution

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