Helpful Hints for Medicare Beneficiaries

October 24th, 2014, No Comments, be the first ».

Being in the practice of selling insurance for over twenty-six years, I have learned a few things about maintaining a level of commitment and proactivity toward my clients. I have found that reaching out to my older clients and/or their loved ones without waiting for them to contact me is a very effective method of calming anxiety and allaying concerns and confusion about making decisions regarding Medicare.

Every year since the inception of the Medicare Part D drug program, I have taken this time of year to call all my senior clients to offer my time and expertise and answer any questions or get any additional information they might need. In this way, they can make the most knowledgeable choices for the following plan year.

Fall is the time for Medicare beneficiaries to explore their options regarding Part D prescription drug plans and Part C Medicare Advantage plans. The Annual Coordinated Election Period (ACEP) for Medicare Advantage and Medicare Part D prescription drug plans started on October 15th and ends on December 7th, 2014. This means that Medicare beneficiaries have to analyze their options and make choices by December 7, 2014.

During the ACEP, often referred to as “open enrollment,” Medicare beneficiaries who do not have a Part D plan can enroll in one, and those who do have Part D coverage can change plans. Beneficiaries can also return to traditional Medicare from a Medicare Advantage (MA) plan, enroll in an MA plan, or change MA plans. Enrollment requests made during the ACEP will have an effective date of January 1 of the following year.

Beneficiaries will once again have an opportunity to disenroll from a Medicare Advantage Plan during a special period beginning January 1 through February 14, 2015, known as the Medicare Advantage Disenrollment Period (MADP).

This period allows beneficiaries to drop their Medicare Advantage plan, enroll in traditional Medicare, and pick up a Part D plan. The MADP does not allow beneficiaries to switch from one Medicare Advantage Plan to another. Beneficiaries who wish to change from one MA plan to another must do so during the ACEP between October 15, 2014 and December 7.

Contacting a client for a reason other than selling a new product is a great opportunity to promote the reality that we are not just peddlers of polices; instead, we are professionals providing valuable services that our clients should be able to trust and rely on in a more complete way.

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By Lisa Horowitz, CLU, CHFC

Lisa Horowitz, CLU, ChFC, has had her own insurance practice for 26 years and specializes in various disciplines, including life insurance, LTCI, DI and Group/Employee benefit programs. She recently started Lifecycles: Resource Management for Lives in Transition, which offers a holistic approach to managing and coordinating the details surrounding difficult medical transitions.

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The Drive to Help

October 22nd, 2014, No Comments, be the first ».

Wise is grateful for a career that lets him use his skills and talents to help others.

BY STEVE GUGLIELMO

For Mark Wise, CLU, ChFC, perspective is everything. When he was preparing to start his freshman year at Ball State University in Muncie, Indiana, he was feeling upset and anxious about the student loan debt he was accruing. However, as he walked into his dorm on the first day of his freshman year, he was hit with a huge dose of perspective.

“About 80 percent of the students in my dorm, including my roommate and next-door neighbor, were disabled,” says Wise. “I had been feeling pretty down about my situation, but it made me realize how lucky I truly am. I can breathe. I can put my clothes on in the morning. I really am blessed.”

Wise’s next-door neighbor at Ball State had cerebral palsy, and Wise spent the next four years caring for him. Those four years sparked a desire in him to help others, which ultimately led to his career in financial services. “I went from being in tons of debt, not thinking about anything beyond myself, to a career that allows me to use my skills and talents to help others,” he says.

A rocky start

Upon graduation, Wise was recruited to join Northwestern Mutual. Like many people in the early stages of their career, he struggled in the beginning. “It was July 1999 when I started on this career path, and I wasn’t having tons of success,” he remembers. “Then I went to our annual meeting in Milwaukee and was truly inspired. I remember coming home determined to schedule 20 appointments for the following week. I spent all day on the phone scheduling appointments, and finally ended up with 17.”

He set out Monday morning for his first appointment, an 8 a.m. meeting an hour and a half away from home. The client stood him up. Undeterred, he went to the second meeting. Then the third, and the fourth. All with the same results.

“My last appointment was at 8 p.m. an hour from home,” Wise says. “I go up and start knocking on the door. No answer. So I wait a couple minutes and knock again. And again, no answer. On the drive home that night, I decided that I was going to quit the business. It was awful.”

However, when he was at his lowest and considering quitting the business, he put his struggles in perspective. “I remembered that commitment I had made to help others,” he says. “And more importantly, I remembered that first day of college and seeing all of those disabled students. I said to myself, ‘You’ve been blessed with a lot of gifts and talent and you aren’t going to quit. You’re going to give it everything you’ve got and take advantage of the opportunities that you have been afforded.’”

That decision to not give up was the best decision he ever made. That week, he went on to keep 15 appointments and kick-start what has been a wildly successful career. “I willed myself to make it happen. That was the driver that really got me going.”

Finding success

In the 14 years since Wise nearly left the business, he has built his practice, part of Northwestern Mutual, into one of Indiana’s premier wealth-management services. Wise is a 10-year MDRT member, a 5-year MDRT Top of the Table winner, a Northwestern Mutual Most VAluable Producer (MVP) from 2006-2009 and 2013’s Northwestern Mutual Financial Security Award winner.

“My practice is more than just Mark Wise,” he says. “I have an incredible team. We take a very integrated, comprehensive approach to wealth management. We provide a multitude of financial services and solutions to a wide demographic of individuals in various life stages, to help them in their quest for financial securities.”

Despite his rise to success, the 37-year-old is still very involved in community service. He has been involved in a non-profit organization called Timmy Global Health for 10 years and currently serves as chairman of the board for the foundation. Wise is also extremely active in the United Way of Central Indiana, the Quest for Excellence, CHAMP Camp, and many other charitable organizations.

“I’ve always tried to get involved in organizations I believe in,” he says. “I see our organization as a whole getting more involved with community involvement. It’s our responsibility to give back to those who haven’t been given the same opportunities that we have.”

Wise has been a member of NAIFA-Indianapolis since 2002 and was named the 2012 Board of Selection Associate of the Year. This year, he serves as the chairman of the board of Selection Associate of the year.

“As a part of the financial-services industry, I don’t even think twice about being a NAIFA member,” Wise says. “It’s something you have to do if you want to be successful. I think everybody should be a member, and I feel very strongly about that. It’s a great networking opportunity and a great benchmarking opportunity.” Wise advises new agents to find a mentor and join a study group. “Find people who will hold you accountable to the goals that you have set. Discussing your issues with other llke-minded professionals can help ease that learning curve, which feels almost vertical at times,” he says.