Agent Sales News

Geraghty pleased with first-year ACA enrollment despite challenges

Florida Blue CEO, Patrick Geraghty, expressed his satisfaction with the results of the ACA’s first-year enrollment numbers, which added 339,000 Florida Blue customers through the Marketplace, according to a Kaiser Health News article.


Geraghty said the surge in membership produced fewer young, healthy enrollees along with a higher than expected demand for expensive health care services. About 23 percent of Florida Blue’s exchange buyers were young adults in the 18-to-34 category. While that figure was expected to be lower than the national average (28 percent) because of Florida’s older population, it was still below the company’s projections.


“It’s a concern certainly, as any market would want lower-age healthier individuals … because it balances the risk pool,” Geraghty said.


Overall, Florida Blue, noted as one of the most fiscally stable health insurers in the country, has about a 40 percent share of the total individual state insurance market (On and Off Marketplace).


Although one-third of Florida consumers––nearly one million people––chose Florida Blue when shopping on the exchange, several factors could still exert upward pressure on rates next year.


While proposed 2015 rates are not yet revealed, several factors could drive up rates next year—including the law’s requirement for younger adults: that the oldest person buying coverage pay no more than three times the rate paid by the youngest enrollee.


“We will be under tremendous financial pressure initially given the age, risk profile and high utilization of the new membership,” Geraghty said. “It is far from clear that large enrollment in the marketplace is a financially beneficial place to be.”


Read the full article.

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5 client service traits you’ll want more of

In any insurance agency, your most reliable source of growth is referrals from existing clients. The best route to achieving a high rate of referrals is by delivering consistently excellent client service. And for that commodity your agency depends on the key players on your team.


Fortunately, the industry’s top client service performers have certain things in common—attributes you can either look for when interviewing job candidates or instill in your team members once they’re onboard. Either way, these are the qualities you want more of. Because the more client service people you have with these qualities, the better your agency will do:

  • They never judge: Client service stars take people as they are, on their own terms, without trying to change them. They leave their personal opinions at the door and avoid discussing their own personal views with others. And when a client or prospect crosses the line, the real rock stars know never to react.
  • They hold themselves accountable: Consistently excellent client service depends on self-knowledge—on leading with your strengths and resolving to improve in other critical areas. A star performer avoids making excuses when things don’t go as hoped and will never blame a client, even when others might. Taking responsibility for mistakes—and fixing them thoroughly and promptly—sits much better with a client than finger-pointing.
  • They manage their emotions well: The best client service people stay focused on their clients’ needs—not their own. They stay positive and composed, without getting defensive in the face of negativity or taking a client’s foul mood as a personal affront. And they have the smarts to realize that they have the power to turn any unpleasant client situation around, simply by controlling their own emotions.
  • They focus on solutions: When presented with a challenge from a client or prospect, great client service people keep their eyes on finding a solution, even if it takes some hard work and creativity. This is distinctly different from simply making the problem (or the problem client) disappear. Instead, they use every resource at their disposal to find a way to meet the challenge—even if it means re-framing the problem or focusing on alternatives the client hadn’t considered before.
  • They take responsibility for doing good work: When top performers commit to doing something for a client, they make a priority of following through. They meet deadlines they’ve agreed to, and they supply all the information a client needs to move to the next step—even if the information isn’t what the client hoped for. The best people take responsibility for delivering less-than-ideal news gracefully and in the best possible light.


By focusing on these five proven indicators of top client service performers, you can help your agency get to the next level, and the ones after that.

Source: Think Advisor

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Florida Blue Health Care Reform site

With all the nuances of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), you or your clients may have questions at one point or another. Save time researching and add value for your clients. Florida Blue has the answers you need on floridabluehealthcarereform.com.

Do your group or individual clients have ACA questions? They can submit them directly to Florida Blue ACA team experts by clicking on Ask a Question at the bottom of the page on along with answers to frequently asked questions, videos, resources and a subsidy estimator.

All agents should continue to call (800) 267-3156 to speak with a representative in the Agent Service Center with any questions.

Under the Resources for professionals tab, you will find the “For agents” and “For employers” sections. The agent section provides information on Medical Loss Ratio, Summary of Benefits and Coverage and more.

Florida Blue is here for you.

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2015 Marketplace rates released

Following up on CEO Patrick Geraghty’s recent interview with Kaiser Health News (KHN), Florida Blue has released 2015 rates for plans available through the federal Marketplace. In his original interview, Geraghty discussed a number of factors pointing to the possibility of higher rates.  

Part two of the interview, published on August 1 indicates rates will go up by an average of 17.6 percent, an increase Geraghty characterized as “typical” and “not aberrant.”  We informed you of this directly and provided you with talking points on Aug. 1 in Agent Bulletin #A14-193.

The increase is largely driven by demographics of the insurance pool, including older adults who previously lacked coverage and are using more services than expected. In addition, nearly 90 percent of Floridians who bought coverage on the Marketplace get a federal subsidy to lower their share of the premium.

“No one can claim in good conscience that a 10 percent rate increase or more would signal the advent of something new and unprecedented,” said Greg Mellowe, policy director of consumer group Florida CHAIN. “For years, this was standard practice in Florida.”

Geraghty said he’s unsure if the latest round of price increases will lead people to drop coverage. “It depends on how much value they place in what they are receiving,” he said.

About a dozen carriers will be competing in the individual health insurance market next year in Florida. Currently, Florida Blue is the only carrier to offer insurance plans in all 67 counties. Another advantage is its 18 walk-in Florida Blue Centers, which will host enrollment seminars and offer face-to-face service for members and potential new customers. This year, the retail locations hosted over 3,000 seminars during the open enrollment period.

But rates are not the whole story. A person’s individual situation will be the key driver of price. Simply looking at the average premiums will not show the wide-ranging prices members could potentially pay based on what products they choose to purchase as well as their current personal health care needs.

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Tips to get your emails opened

In 2013, the number of emails sent and received worldwide averaged 180 billion per day. Unlike a traditional mailbox, an email inbox can hold a virtually limitless number of these files.

 

As a receiver of emails, you face the daunting task of sorting through your share of those 180 billion attempts to touch your world. You’ll probably separate them, possibly with the help of a filtering system, into three groups: junk, non-urgent emails you’ll want to read later, and those that require your immediate attention.

 

As a sender of emails, your agency must cope with this ritual—and take steps to raise the chance that your outgoing email will get opened, read and acted on.

 

Even if you’re just sending out a newsletter that recipients have already opted to receive, bear in mind that those same recipients have probably opted to receive lots of other newsletters. If email in any form is part of your marketing plan, making the content relevant and useful is obviously a top priority. But getting it opened is a prerequisite.

 

That’s the job of the subject line.

 

Put yourself in the recipient’s shoes—because you often are. You’re scanning a whole inbox full of unopened emails, looking first for reasons to delete, with nothing more than the subject line to base your decision on. So as a marketer, it pays to write subject lines that scream “Open Me!” Here are a few tips:

  • Arouse curiosity: Phrase your subject line in a way that grabs attention. Include a how-to. Or a numbered list (5 reasons to…). If you deploy this tactic, be sure the actual email pays off on the implied promise. Otherwise, you’ll lose credibility—and readership.
  • Add urgency: If the content is time-sensitive in any way, capitalize on it. Don’t use this technique too often or you’ll turn readers off. But if an honest and meaningful deadline is coming up, lead with that.
  • Be unique: Study the subject lines of your competitors—not so you can copy them but so you can differentiate yourself from them. Tease or excite the reader with something the other guys don’t use. An offer, or maybe a different spin on your agency’s service.
  • Try some humor: People don’t expect to be entertained while engaged in an activity as mundane as sorting through emails. Funny or clever subject lines, maybe with a twist on words or a turn-of-phrase, get opened because they’re unexpected. And a good chuckle is always appreciated.
  • Focus on one compelling element: Your email content has lots of elements. Don’t try to cover them all in a single subject line. Pick the one aspect of your email that’s most compelling and easiest to state, and make that the hero. Simple is better. With a large enough database, you could pick two or three areas of focus to test against each other, so you can see what works best.
  • Connect with the recipient: You and your client or prospect are similar in many ways. You’re both concerned with insurance benefits, you both follow the same industries and keep an eye out for ways to deliver quality and value. Acknowledge your alike-ness in the subject line.
  • Write like you talk: To connect with your clients and prospects, speak their language. Write subject lines that sound engaging and conversational, not stodgy or jargon-y.
  • Always be truthful: People know when they’ve been snookered or misled—even inadvertently. So be sure your content delivers what your subject line says it will.
  • Skip the hard sell: Remember, the job of the subject line is to get the recipient to open the email. If the subject line sounds sales-y, it’ll get deleted instantly.

 

Do you need to use all these tips in every outgoing email? Of course not. But keep them in mind next time you engage your email marketing machine. And get ready for a measurable boost in response.

 

Source: Slideshare

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ICD-10 work continues

Despite federal legislation last April requiring a delay in implementation, Florida Blue is still preparing to adopt ICD-10 (the tenth revision of the standard medical diagnosis and inpatient procedure codes). With all the work accomplished so far, Florida Blue is maintaining its forward momentum and working with providers and other external stakeholders to ensure they do the same.

As a result, Florida Blue remains on track to be ICD-10 ready this year, even though implementation will be delayed until at least October 1, 2015. External testing with willing providers is continuing as they submit their ICD-10-coded claims for processing in a test environment. 

To ensure a smooth transition and avoid business disruptions once ICD-10 is implemented, Florida Blue is continuing to collaborate with providers, other payers and stakeholders and keeping them informed through several channels, including:

  • organized medicine events and activities
  • monthly teleconferences and podcasts
  • social media
  • ongoing ICD-10 end-to-end testing with participating providers

We will keep you informed.

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Providing your groups with wellness programs

The results are in: Selling wellness is no cakewalk for benefit advisers. Employee Benefit Advisor (EBA) surveyed 150 industry professionals, mostly agents and consultants, earlier this year to come up with its first-ever benchmark study on workplace wellness programs. One striking fact: Nearly a third of respondents (32 percent) don’t even offer wellness programs to their clients or don’t know if their clients are working with a program vendor.

Broadly speaking, the survey found that large employers demand innovation and a custom-tailored approach to wellness programs; smaller employers still require convincing that the programs are a good investment. The most important wellness plan issues for employers, according to the respondents, include:

  • educational tools that are easy for employees to use
  • significant return on investment
  • program cost overall
  • tools for maximizing employee engagement
  • creating a wellness culture
  • availability of health coaching resources

The nationwide survey listed the most popular plan vendors chosen by advisors; these included WebMD Health Services, along with several others. Choosing a quality program is critical. According to one respondent, any well-designed wellness program should include these key features:

  • a web-based platform with a secure portal for members
  • a solid communication and roll-out plan with management buy-in
  • a suite of tools for administrative management
  • capability for reporting individual risk
  • tools to educate employees and help them set goals
  • structured incentives to maximize enrollment
  • a health risk assessment (HRA) tool that’s accredited
  • tools for program management
  • suggestions for team challenges
  • tools to track employee participation in activities and events
  • capability for tracking group progress

Florida Blue has partnered with WebMD Health Services to provide tools focused on improving the health and wellness of groups’ employees. With WebMD, employees will have the tools they need to make better health and benefits decisions, positively change their health behavior, and live a healthier life.

What to do about the 32 percent of survey respondents that stand outside the wellness space? The survey results included some insights and possible explanations. Some brokers that don’t offer wellness programs:

  • might be reluctant to invest the time needed to become wellness experts
  • might assume it’s unprofitable to offer wellness programs
  • might not realize that competitors could gain an advantage by offering a quality wellness program

To help agents stay ahead of the competition, Florida Blue offers Better You from Blue, an award winning, interactive, incentive based, wellness program available to qualifying large groups.  Later this year, Better You from Blue will expand to include small groups and we will keep you informed when it becomes available.

Source: Employee Benefit News

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Closing the communications loop

If you manage an insurance sales team—or if you’re part of one—regular ongoing communication is critical to the team’s success––and your own. Like other processes inside every sales organization, it’s important to close the communications loop.

If you’re a manager, you want to know—need to know—the status of individual projects and initiatives at any given time. Yet it’s difficult to get sales people to communicate regularly about project status. And when you ask, team members might interpret it as nagging, even though that’s not your intent. Closing this loop requires proactive thinking. That’s what great communicators do.

Communicating proactively means explaining to individual sales team members why you need regular updates in the first place—even if the update is that there’s no new information. You don’t need updates because you like looking over every team member’s shoulder. It’s because the information helps you stay on top of the larger sales effort. And because you may be able to provide and assist. If a team member is stuck, you can’t help if you don’t know your help is needed. If a particular team member is particularly resistant to providing updates, dig deeper. Identify the issue and address it head on.

If you report to a manager, you can close the communications loop in the same way: by acting proactively. If your sales manager or team leader has been tracking you down every Friday for months to get your status updates, it’s a safe bet you’ll get the same request next Friday. So take the initiative, anticipate the question, save your manager the effort of tracking you down, and let the person know where things stand.

If your boss likes weekly updates, keep a tickler file of odds and ends to include when it’s time to do your report. Put it on your calendar. When you reach a milestone in a long-term effort, send a note then and there. When things go well at a client meeting, consider firing off a quick email or picking up the phone. Even if you encounter an unexpected obstacle, let your manager know. He or she may be able to help you work around it.

Unsure whether a development requires a special mention or it can wait till the next general status update? You might want to err on the side of too much information. If that becomes a problem, you’ll hear about it. Communication is good and contributes to team success.

Source: NJ.com

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Sales conversion techniques

It takes a lot of planning, execution and effort to drive traffic to your agency’s website. But as many businesses are learning, more traffic doesn’t always translate into higher sales volume. So it’s a good idea to pay attention to your conversion rate—the total number of website visitors compared to the number of visitors who take a desired action (purchase, sign up for a newsletter, request a quote or whatever you want visitors to do).

To beef up your conversion rate, to turn passive website viewers into engaged purchasers, consider these tips from conversion marketing experts:

  • Think like a site visitor: Experience what it’s like to visit your site for the first time.
    • Does your eye know where to land when the home page loads?
    • Do you see the most important graphic elements, or do you have to hunt for them?
    • Does the design do the heavy lifting, guiding your eye to the most important places on each page?
    • Are the navigation labels clear? Are they easy to read?
    • Is it easy to figure out what to expect when you click on them?
    • Are there unnecessary visual elements that can be removed?
    • Is the copy easy to see and read?
  • This kind of analysis helps you develop a site that gets results.

  • Communicate your unique selling proposition: There are plenty of insurance agencies competing for the same customers. What makes yours unique? Why should a prospect sign with you and not someone else? Do some research and craft a unique selling proposition that’s relevant and compelling, then make sure it comes across unmistakably on every page of your website.
  • Add something with perceived value: This is just basic selling. Offer a free consultation. Or a discount for new clients. It’ll give fence-sitters an added incentive to make the right decision.
  • Give something away: Rather than starting off trying to close a sale, establish your credibility by offering a freebie—something that your best customers will value. Offer relevant information like you’d find in a newsletter. Or updates on new regulations and trends. Or something else that reinforces your unique selling proposition and your expertise.
  • Supplement with social media: Your website may be interactive, it just sits there waiting to be looked at. Social media, like Facebook and Twitter, help you engage with your audience. They hit your prospects where they live and can bridge the gap between a prospect’s life and your service. Social media can also help you humanize your agency’s brand identity and add relevance that prospects will appreciate.
  • Make your pitch compelling: Strong copy compels action. Weak copy just confuses or annoys the reader. This is one area where it pays to invest in quality. Hire a professional—someone with a track record—to make your case in ways that resonate with your audience.
  • Call for action: It may seem obvious to you, but someone visiting your website needs to be told, explicitly and clearly, exactly what you want him or her to do. And how to do it. Your call to action is the online equivalent of closing an in-person sale or asking for the order. Always remember to include it. It should have urgency and be easy to accomplish. “Request your free quote today.”

You may not see an increase in traffic to your website, but when you follow these simple tips you’ll see a big jump in conversions and sales.

Source: business2community

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HHS report highlights Marketplace effectiveness

A new report from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) confirms that the federally facilitated health insurance exchange, known as the Marketplace, is doing a good job of providing consumers with more affordable health insurance choices.

The June 2014 report, uses data from the 36 states that didn’t set up their own exchanges, choosing instead to let residents purchase health insurance through the federal Marketplace. People who purchased coverage through the Marketplace “paid an average of $69 per month after tax credits for silver plans and had, on average, a choice of five health insurers and 47 plans.”

The study found that states, on average, had 10 “rating areas” (i.e., separate geographical markets). Some smaller states had only one rating area; Florida was identified as the state with the most rating areas: 67 (the same number of counties in the state).

The rating areas with the largest number of issuers (an indicator of consumer choice) were located in New York and Oregon; the rating areas with the most plans available (another choice indicator) were located in Wisconsin and Florida.

Among the other findings in the report:

  • Overall, consumers were able to choose from five health insurers and 47 Marketplace plans.
  • An increase of one issuer in a rating area is associated with four percent decline in the second-lowest cost silver plan premium, on average.
  • People who selected silver plans, the most popular plan type in the federal Marketplace, paid an average premium of $69 per month after accounting for tax credits available under the Affordable Care Act.
  • Sixty nine percent of enrollees who qualified for tax credits selected Marketplace plans with premiums of $100 a month or less; 46 percent of those who qualified for tax credits had premiums of $50 a month or less.
  • Nearly 70 percent of consumers who signed up for Marketplace coverage are paying $100 or less for that coverage, thanks to the availability of tax credits.
  • Overall, tax credits reduced the average monthly premium from $346 to $72–– accounting for a 76 percent decrease.

The report’s authors say the data demonstrates that tax credits are working as intended to make health insurance affordable for consumers and that the Marketplace has succeeded in spurring competition for health insurance.

Source: US Department of Health and Human Services

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Free fitness program at Florida Blue Centers

Color Me Fit is a new 6-week health program developed to give members added-value with their Florida Blue health plan.

During the program members:

  • Discover their unique color-coded fitness personality
  • Understand why they’re drawn to certain activities/environments and avoid others
  • Learn how to use their fitness color to make better choices for their personality
  • Add physical activity to their lifestyle to create an exercise program they’ll never quit

Color Me Fit will be offered at select Florida Blue Centers for 60 minutes, once a week beginning on the following dates:

Tampa, Sarasota, Pensacola and Winter Haven: Program starts July 21, 10 a.m.; Winter Park starts July 29, 11 a.m.

There is no cost to attend. Members must be 18 years or older to participate. Color Me Fit does not include physical activity as part of the sessions. No special clothing or shoes are required. Members can register online or by calling

1-877-FL-BLUE-O (1-877-352-5830). Registration is required.

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Voicemail as a sales tool

It happens to every insurance agent, no matter how successful, established or confident, when prospecting for new business: voicemail. And its companion, the unreturned call. It’s frustrating, difficult to manage logistically, and can shake your confidence.

There’s a way to mitigate it and convert more prospecting voicemails into actual conversations with actual prospects. In a nutshell, use voicemail to your advantage by building suspense. Here’s a three-step approach that’s designed to be implemented over the course of a five-day workweek:

Step 1—Monday: Leave a short first message that intrigues and asks nothing of the prospect. Introduce yourself and say you’re calling because so-and-so at such-and-such company asked you to call because you helped them achieve a successful outcome that’s relevant (a reduction in benefits costs, for example, or a way to increase employee satisfaction without increasing costs). Say you’ll call back on Wednesday at a specific time. Do not leave a callback number. This removes any follow up burden from the prospect and places it squarely on your own shoulders. All the prospect needs to do is anticipate your callback on Wednesday.

Step 2—Wednesday: If you get the prospect’s voicemail, leave a follow up message: Introduce yourself, remind the prospect you had committed on Monday to call back, and repeat about the success you achieved with so-and-so at such-and-such. This time, make it a little more compelling: It would be smart for us to connect so you can learn more about how we achieved the successful outcome [you described on Monday]. Again, don’t leave a callback number and don’t ask the prospect to do anything. Commit to calling back Friday at a specific time.

Step 3—Friday: If your call rolls to voicemail, leave a final message: Introduce yourself and remind that you’d promised to call back. It’s a shame you’ve been unable to connect. Maybe the prospect is busy achieving their next successful outcome, or maybe you’re calling at the wrong times. This time, leave your number. And end with another callback commitment: If you don’t hear back in a week, you’ll call again soon.

Sales prospecting requires persistence. If you haven’t heard in a little more than a week (and you may not), keep working on it. Keep calling and, if needed, leaving messages with incrementally more compelling outcomes you’ve been able to achieve with other clients. Keep intriguing, educating and re-stating the benefits of engaging with you.

Will every single prospect end up calling you back? Probably not. But over time, if you stick with the program, you’ll see a measurable lift in your on-base percentage.

Source: Globe and Mail

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Productivity tips from successful sales experts

Whether you’re just starting an insurance sales career or you’re a seasoned pro, you can always learn new ways to improve your technique, efficiency and productivity. Recently, a multidisciplinary panel of sales experts—from a wide range of fields—shared some of their best tips.

Three broad tactics emerged, presented below, along with some specific advice:

  • Prioritize important tasks and manage your time: Simply focus on spending selling hours on selling. Eliminate all other time-wasters. Focus on the things that have the biggest impact on making your number, and are the least complex. It’s not enough to get everything done, the key is to get the things that matter done. Set time aside to be on the phone that is separate from planning or research time. Start each day with an idea of what you’re doing––and be ready to go with it. Ask yourself two important questions: What does success look like to you? And do your actions support your success goals?
  • Invest in relationships: Get to know clients, empathize with them, and work toward a friendship as well as a business relationship. Send relevant hand-written thank-you notes instead of a perfunctory email. Avoid hype, and prove your credibility citing third-party endorsements, certifications and awards. Get crystal clear on where you add the most value to your company and customers, then structure your time around that activity. Focus your time on finding and nurturing your ideal clients who want and need what you have to offer. Keep your contacts, prospects, and customers organized. Focus on what’s in it for your buyer.
  • Relentlessly seek efficiency: Refine your sales process to weed out useless tasks. Avoid multi-tasking; instead, do one thing at a time—and focus in on it. Do a weekly review and put the most important tasks and outcomes on your calendar. Keep a running task list at all times. Practice habits that give you incremental growth in efficiency every day.

Remember: top sales performance is a marathon, not a sprint.

Source: Baseline CRM

 

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A.M. Best upgrades ratings for Florida Blue affiliates

Two Florida Blue affiliates, Capital Health Plan, Inc. (CHP) and Florida Health Care Plan, Inc. (FHCP) received upgraded ratings in two important areas from A.M. Best, a noted independent rating agency.

  • Financial Strength Rating: The agency upgraded CHP and FHCP from Excellent (A) to Superior (A+).
  • Issuer Credit Rating: The agency upgraded CHP and FHCP to “aa-“ from “a”.

The agency also reaffirmed existing marks for Florida Blue itself and another affiliate, Health Options, Inc. (HOI) as follows:

  • Financial Strength Rating: Superior (A+) ratings of Florida Blue and HOI
  • Issuer Credit Rating: “aa-“ ratings of Florida Blue and HOI

The agency also characterized the outlook of all ratings as stable.

Commenting on the upgrades, Best said they “reflect[s] the support Florida Blue offers to CHP and FHCP through reinsurance and guarantee agreements, as well as the increased role of a low-cost delivery model that is at the core of both CHP and FHCP.”

The affirmed ratings for Florida Blue and HOI reflect “their continuous profitable financial performance,” Best reported. “Florida Blue has posted positive operating results for the last 25 years. Pricing discipline combined with a controlled administrative expense structure, innovative provider contracting and enhanced medical management contributed to earnings over the last four years.”

In additional comments, the ratings agency also highlighted a favorable 2013 tax settlement and other factors that supported net income and future earnings. “Solid operating performance contributed to the company's very strong level of capitalization that provides a competitive advantage and significantly improves Florida Blue's flexibility to respond to market challenges related to the implementation of The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act… Florida Blue's leadership in the individual market — with a wide range of products offered, retail presence and strategic repositioning of the Blue brand towards greater affordability and simplicity — puts it in a position to succeed in a post-reform environment. Florida Blue is likely to further enhance its strength in the individual segment through active participation in the Florida public exchange marketplace.”

The takeaway, from an agency perspective: in a competitive market and shifting landscape, Florida Blue remains well positioned for solid, reliable growth.

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Time management tips from prodigies

When a tech company recently held a talent search among teenagers for scientifically innovative ideas, the result was more than some brilliant ideas. Some of the young contestants shared their strategies for balancing the competing demands on their time.

While you might not expect the voice of experience to come from a 17-year-old, their strategies make sense—even for a busy health insurance agent. What gets them through a typical day of classes, homework, extracurricular activities, sports, family time and science projects? Here’s how they manage:

  • Scheduling: Before going to sleep, know what time you need to be awake and what you need to accomplish the next day. Book time blocks in your calendar for each activity. It actually helps you sleep better, knowing you won’t be relying on random events to shape your day.
  • Use technology that works for you: If pen and paper work best, don’t abandon them because a higher-tech solution seems cooler. If you like an older time management app, don’t switch to a shiny new one just because it’s shiny and new.
  • Plan time to let ideas percolate: You can’t—and shouldn't—spend every waking moment performing tasks on a checklist. For big projects that require insight (like a game-changing proposal or change in strategic direction for your agency), allow time on your calendar to ponder, consider, study and formulate. That’s where insight comes from.
  • Break boulders into stones: Sometimes, one large logistical challenge is easier to manage if you can break it down into a series of smaller steps. Individual benefit orientations for 50 new employees can be broken into 10 sessions of five employees each.
  • Take advantage of the lulls: If you’ve got 15 minutes before your next appointment, knock out a smaller chunk of a larger project. Or use it to percolate. Or do some stretches and get your circulation flowing.
  • Build rewards into your planning: When you’re not focused on things you need to accomplish, what do you enjoy doing? Whatever it is, with all you achieve in a day, you deserve to spend some of your time doing it.

It’s amazing what you can learn from young overachievers.

Source: Fast Company

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BluesEnroll HR Role gets a new look plus enhancements

Florida Blue recently unveiled a series of improvements to the HR Role in BluesEnroll, including a mobile-friendly view.

Here’s what’s new:

  • Ability to send notifications and reminders directly to employees
  • Administrator view-only access to employees’ self-service pages, benefit elections and personal information
  • Improved HR Task List to easily view and/or approve outstanding tasks
  • Automatic single-transaction cancellation of benefits of all Florida Blue product lines (health, ancillary) for deceased employees
  • New language preference option for groups that have employee self-service enabled

Existing BluesEnroll users will be able to view a tutorial on these changes as soon as they log in for the first time. For details, view the BluesEnroll training website to watch instructional videos. For navigational questions, contact BluesEnroll Support at 1-866-775-7022.

For more details, consult Agent Sales Bulletins # A14-136 and A14-097.

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Stay connected with Florida Blue eNews

Summer is the time to celebrate family, freedom and fun! Florida Blue eNews is bursting with ideas to help you celebrate in safe and meaningful ways. Check out this month’s Florida Blue eNews for fireworks around Florida, connecting with your inner patriot and a spectacular holiday dessert bowl.

Plus, check out these fun and interesting articles:

Let Florida Blue eNews help make your summer one to remember.

Note: ASO groups are excluded from the mailing but can be emailed a link to the newsletter upon the group’s request.

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Effective data mining: Go deep to expand client base

Selling is all about delivering more value than someone else. Go deep and you’ll uncover opportunities to do precisely that, more effectively than ever.

When it comes to client organizations, especially larger ones, it pays to go deep. Whether it’s a client you’ve done business with for years, or a prospect you’ve had your eye on, it’s a smart way to discover opportunities you didn’t know about and open more doors, faster.

The premise is simple: Instead of relying exclusively on a single point of contact, get to know others in your contact’s universe, including people at different levels of decision making.

For existing clients, you can obtain this data in at least two ways: Old-fashioned creative networking, which starts with the contacts you already have, and data mining via social media.

To network effectively, invest in more face time with those you know. Don’t be afraid to leverage those relationships to ask for introductions.

Like a member of a well-oiled basketball team, be open to handing off some leads to others who might be in a better position to score. If your networking turns up contact information for the client company’s CEO, for example, it might be more fruitful to hand it off to your own CEO.

Deep networking also helps you identify and pre-emptively neutralize potential sources of trouble. The deeper your contacts, the more likely you’ll be able to spot people whose agendas don’t include your company or your proposal. Approaching these thorny issues requires finesse, but it’s better than being blindsided by a torpedo you didn't see coming.

Whether you’re prospecting or cultivating an existing relationship, mine social media outlets, especially LinkedIn, for data you can act on. These networks can reveal connections deep inside an organization—and if you don’t have an updated company directory, you can often find contact information in a profile.

Source: Duct Tape Marketing

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Expanded diabetes screenings

Following the success of last year’s program, Florida Blue will reach out again to select diabetes patients with an invitation to attend a local health fair event. Invitations will be mailed to Medicare and (new this year) commercial members. Specific criteria for the invitations include:

  • diagnosed with diabetes
  • have not had a recent diabetic retinal eye exam or hemoglobin A1c test
  • live within a 30-mile radius of the Jacksonville, Tampa or Orlando Florida Blue Centers
  • ASO members who have chosen not to receive mailings are excluded

Services offered at the health fairs will include:

  • glucose – finger stick
  • cholesterol – finger stick
  • height, weight, BMI
  • blood pressure
  • diabetic retinal eye exam
  • diabetic education
  • hemoglobin A1c – Quest on-site lab draw (new this year)
  • LDL - Quest on-site lab draw (new this year)

Medication adherence education and flu shots (in the Jacksonville area only) are under consideration, too. Health fairs will be held on the following dates, with invitations going out three weeks prior to each event:

  • Tampa: June 26-28
  • Orlando: Aug. 7-9
  • Jacksonville: Sept. 25-27

This advance information helps you add value to existing client relationships, and it serves as a selling point for prospects. For more information please read Agent Sales Bulletin #A14-139.

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A new low: uninsured rate drops to 13.4 percent of U.S. adults

The rate of uninsured adults in the U.S. has reached its lowest level since Gallup and Healthways began tracking it in January 2008. The rate for April 2014, 13.4 percent, is down sharply from the previous month’s rate of 15 percent—and it’s even steeper when compared to the 18 percent level noted for the third quarter of 2013.

Survey authors noted that the decline began when health insurance marketplaces first opened in October 2013. As the original March 31 enrollment deadline approached, the decline accelerated, when the federal government extended the deadline until April 15.

A closer look at the data shows that the drop occurred across nearly all demographic groups, including those related to age, ethnicity and income.

The survey noted several highlights in the numbers, including these observations:

  • The sharpest declines in uninsured adults occurred among African and Hispanic Americans and those with lower incomes.
  • The surge in late health insurance sign-ups reflects the rush to meet the official March 31 deadline.
  • States that expanded Medicaid and those that chose to run their own insurance exchanges saw sharper reductions in uninsured than states that did not.

Looking ahead, the survey offered a series of insights on factors that might drive changes in the numbers going forward:

  • It’s likely that more Americans would get health insurance under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) if fines for noncompliance were higher.
  • The number of newly insured Americans who fail to pay their premiums will exert upward pressure on the number of uninsured.
  • The numbers could remain relatively unchanged until early 2015, when people without insurance sign up for policies during the next enrollment period.
  • Some ACA provisions have not taken effect, including the one that requires many employers to provide health insurance by 2015. When these provisions go live, they may influence the results.

Some additional technical notes on the study include:

  • The uninsured rates for the first quarter of 2014 and the month of March are averages for the entire quarter and month, and do not necessarily reflect the uninsured rate for the day of the March 31 deadline.
  • The April estimate better captures the impact of late sign-ups, since all interviewing occurred after that critical date.

The data are based on more than 14,700 interviews with Americans from April 1-30, 2014, as part of the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index.

Source: Gallup

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Young agents: Age is an asset

Face it: A lot of prospects expect an insurance agent who projects the same persona as an insurance company itself. Stable. Permanent. Reliable. With centuries of experience. So if you happen to be on the younger end of the age spectrum—or just look younger than you are—you’ll encounter resistance from some people just based on assumptions about your age.

You may not always hear those objections articulated, but you’ll need to react to them. Consider these tips:

  • Neutralize the objection. Youth is not a flaw. Acknowledge it and get it out of the way. Tout your skills, training or track record and ask to be heard out. Develop some rapport. Chances are good your age is more of an issue for you than for the prospect anyway.
  • Soak up professional education. Get trained in new areas that interest you. Do webinars and seminars—not just for their informative value but also as networking opportunities. And participate actively. A major secondary benefit of ramping up your education is that it will boost your confidence.
  • Develop yourself. Learn, read, take courses on becoming a better person. Identify your own opportunities for improvement and work on them proactively. Become a better listener, speaker, teacher, parent, spouse.
  • Sell it as a strength. Younger agents are perceived as leaner, more eager to please, more energetic, less likely to develop bad habits. Be a little faster with basics like callbacks and follow-ups. The prospect will come to realize that your youth means you’ll outperform your older peers on client service.
  • Engage social media. They come more naturally to you than to people twice your age. So take advantage of their full capabilities to build your brand, establish and deepen connections, add to your credibility—and even pick up some useful knowledge.
  • Develop your own niche. Focus on industries where you have some knowledge, interest or experience. Burnish your credibility by doing speaking engagements for trade groups.
  • Be genuinely passionate. It’s contagious. That’s what people expect, so make the most of it. Your excitement will permeate interactions with the prospect.
  • Build your network. And your personal brand. Attend industry events—not just to sell, but to meet people. Make connections that may become useful. Be a resource for others. Establish yourself in the professional community.
  • Rely on available resources. Use your network—clients, colleagues, even competitors—for support, information and answers to questions.
  • Seek commonality. You’re in sales. Find something that serves as a basis of commonality between you and the prospect. It transcends the age gap and renders it irrelevant.

Source: Insurance Business America

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Death-defying fruits and veggies

A new 12-year study comes a step closer to confirming what mothers—and proponents of wellness programs—have been saying for years: Eating lots of fresh fruits and veggies is good for you. So good that the more of them you eat, the longer you might live.

To be fair, the study, which appeared in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, stops short of claiming that eating more produce actually causes longevity. But the statistical correlation is substantial.

Researchers examined the eating habits of 65,000 British subjects between 2001 and 2013. Those who ate seven or more servings daily were 42 percent less likely to die, regardless of the cause, than those who ate less than one serving. And it wasn’t an all-or-nothing proposition. Those who consumed five to seven servings were 36 percent less likely to die than those who consumed less than one serving; those who ate three to five servings were 29 percent less likely.

More detailed findings include:

  • Death specifically from heart disease fell by 31 percent when researchers compared the seven-servings-a-day crowd against less-than-ones; cancer-related death risk fell by 25 percent.
  • Veggies came out slightly ahead of fruits in their health benefits: For every daily serving of fresh vegetables alone, the overall risk of death declined by 16 percent; for salads, the benefit was 13 percent; for fresh fruits, just four percent.
  • The key word in the study was “fresh.” Fruit juices were not associated with any reduction in risk of death. Canned and frozen fruits actually correlated with a higher risk of death.

As more corporate clients turn to workplace wellness programs (a key component of which promotes healthy eating habits), these findings take on added relevance. Next time you visit a client or prospect, you might want to bring carrot sticks.

Source: HealthDay

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Tips on using Twitter

Introduced just eight years ago, Twitter has become a staple of social media, a cornerstone of content marketing. It’s even credited with facilitating political revolutions. But harnessing its power to bolster your marketing effort in just 140 characters may seem like a stretch. Consider these tactics for developing and executing the Twitter-based component in your marketing efforts:

  • Specify goals: Do you want to increase awareness? Publicize an offer? Introduce a new service? The more specifically you can define the goal, the better you can target your message.
  • Be relevant. Choose topics that your target audience finds important—things that fit with your own brand identity.
  • Leverage chats. Offer short, helpful and readable responses to other people’s questions. They’ll get you noticed, and even re-tweeted.
  • Choose a great hashtag. That’s the word(s) right after the #. Go with some combination of simple, memorable and descriptive.
  • Offer incentives for followers to participate and re-tweet
  • Spread the love to existing clients. Keep your agency top-of-mind with relevant content that existing clients will appreciate. Share a success story or a new strategy. It reminds your clients that you’re out there, working on their behalf, and, ideally, it’ll get re-tweeted to prospects.
  • Use alerts to help you find leads. Just set them for commonly used health insurance terms that a prospect might search for, like ACA.
  • Engage geolocation. Use it to find nearby prospects and reach out to them. If you can target power users—those with the greatest influence in the Twittersphere—you can piggyback on their popularity.
  • Name your lists creatively. Instead of “Prospects,” you could call it “Savvy Small Business Owners.” Instead of “Nonprofits,” try something like “Agencies Making a Difference.” Recipients see the name of the lists they’re on, and they’ll appreciate an acknowledgement of how they’d like to be viewed.
  • Save useful searches. If your search parameters yield a useful list of prospects, save them and tweet back as appropriate to build loyalty and business.
  • Save for the future. Save interesting incoming Twitter content to a spreadsheet for inspiration later. And give credit when possible. If you’re crediting an existing client, the nod is appreciated. If crediting someone else, it could lead to a sale.

Master the basics and some of these tactics, and you’ll be amazed at how much you can accomplish in 140 characters. Try it and see.

Source: Business News Daily

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CDHPs correlate with health status, income and education

Consumer-driven health plans (CDHPs) are attracting buyers who differ from more traditional plan members in three important respects:

  • they’re healthier;
  • they earn more money; and
  • they’re better educated.

That’s according to research from the Employee Benefit Research Institute (EBRI).

CDHPs, which are typically linked to tax-advantaged Health Savings Accounts (HSAs), have been gaining in popularity for the last 10 years. Today they represent about 15 percent of the private health insurance marketplace, covering more than 26 million Americans.

Some of EBRI’s more detailed findings: For most of the years studied, people covered by CDHPs (compared with those covered by traditional plans), were

  • more likely to behave in healthier ways (defined in terms of smoking, obesity and regular exercise)
  • more likely to fall into the $100,000 to $149,999 household income range
  • more likely to have a college or post-gradate education
  • equally likely to be male or female

The study sampled enrollee data going back to 2005. Although significant correlations were noted, it remains unclear whether plan design and health status influenced each other in a causal relationship.

Source: Benefits Pro

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New limits on health savings accounts for 2015

The IRS recently announced financial limits for 2015 that affect health savings accounts (HSAs) contributions as well as qualifying deductible amounts on High Deductible Health Plans (HDHPs) associated with them. HSAs are tax-exempt accounts that help people save money for eligible medical expenses.

To qualify for an HSA, the policyholder must be:

  • enrolled in an HSA-compatible HDHP;
  • cannot be covered by other non-HDHP health insurance or Medicare; and
  • cannot be claimed as a dependent on someone else’s tax return.

The new IRS limits for 2015 are:

Maximum HSA contribution:

  • Individuals (self-only coverage): $3,350
  • Family coverage: $6,650

Minimum annual HDHP deductible:

  • Individuals (self-only coverage): $1,300
  • Family coverage: $2,600

Maximum annual HDHP out-of-pocket:

  • Individuals (self-only coverage): $6,450
  • Family coverage: $12,900

All Florida Blue HSA-compatible plans for both BlueOptions and BlueCare platforms will be compliant with the 2015 HSA limits and there will be minimal changes to the existing product portfolio. A few items to be aware of:

  • The 2014 HDHP out-of-pocket limits remained the same as last year, even under the new ACA requirements. For 2015, the maximum out-of-pocket limits will be $6,600 for self-only coverage and $13,200 for family coverage.
  • HSA funds can only be used to purchase over-the-counter drugs if the policyholder has a prescription. Otherwise the tax penalty is 20 percent of the HSA distribution.

Please contact your Florida Blue Sales Representative with any other questions you may have.

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