We’ve discussed health reform a little bit before, and now that certain provisions of the plan are starting to be implemented, we wanted to go into a little bit more detail about some of the specifics of how to tackle insurance sales post-reform.
In a previous post (March 23, to be exact), I talked about the importance of staying focused on sales and briefly touched on the importance of your ability to adapt to what will surely be a very different market. As the market changes, so to must your strategy and the way you attack it. The difficulties in figuring out just how to adapt to these policy changes are compounded by two other major (and equally dynamic) factors in the health insurance sector: technology and demographics. And all three of these components (policy, technology and demographics) are fairly complexly intertwined.
Old habits die hard
First and foremost, you’ll have to step out of your comfort zone. Shrinking commissions mean you’ll need to expand your horizons. Operating in a niche system, whether it’s a particular type of healthcare product or a particular carrier, is probably not your safest bet. You can find examples throughout any financial sector in America: diversifying your portfolio (in this case, your product/carrier portfolio) is critical to both protect your current assets and increase your future profits.
You need to first identify the markets where you think demand for your services will be highest, educate yourself on the products and carriers you think stand the best chance of succeeding in that market (some carriers inability to adjust may lead to their non-existence in a few years), set your goals, and then lay out a plan of attack. If there was ever a time for the old saying “Don’t put all your eggs in one basket,” this is it.
Don’t be the last one off the Titanic
Your marketing strategies need to keep up with both policy changes and population changes. The biggest example of this is aging baby boomers and Medicare/Medicare Supplements. Consider these numbers from a 2009 Pew Internet Usage study:
- 74% of internet users age 64 and older send and receive email, making email the most popular online activity for this age group.
- Researching health information is the third most popular online activity with the most senior age group, after email and online search.
- Health questions drive internet users age 73 and older to the internet just as frequently as they drive Generation Y users.
- 56% of internet users ages 64-72 and 47% of internet users age 73 and older buy products online.
Taking into account those numbers reflect the oldest demographics online, we can conclude that these stats will only increase as baby boomers (who are markedly more experienced with the Internet and account for 35% of all adult Internet users) get older. Now consider the fact that the first of the boomers will be eligible for Medicare as of 2011. While Medicare Supplements are currently not sold online, you can bet yours or any family farm that demand will change that in a heartbeat.
On top of all of that, Medicare Supplements are poised to take off in the coming years, according to a recent article in Agent Sales Journal. Again, this is just one example of where things are heading, but the point remains the same. The agents that are successful in this new market will be the ones that recognize these trends and adapt accordingly. Agents that refuse to adapt will see their careers go the way of Leonardo DiCaprio at the end of Titanic: Slowly freezing to death in a vast, indiscriminate sea of the left-behind.