Warm Greetings!

As I write this letter it is mid-August, and it is nice and hot! I have always been a fan of warm weather. Maybe a more accurate statement would be I really dislike cold weather! I think it goes back to my days of being a paper boy and delivering papers in the winter and having to “collect” in the cold months with no gloves (too much of a pain trying to handle coins in gloves).

This is the time of the year in the Medicare business where we as agents get to see all the “first looks” from the insurance carriers on the plans for next year. We are also sworn to secrecy to not discuss the details of any new plan information with any client or prospect before October 1. I am happy to unofficially “report” that so far from what we are seeing from the insurance companies the Medicare Advantage plans look very strong for 2023. We are seeing insurance carriers for the most part maintaining or even offering more “extra” benefits on the plans that you our customers have in place. I think in general you will be pleased to see what your current plan will look like in 2023 come October when your ANOC arrives (for those clients with Medicare Advantage Plans). We also are not hearing of any network disruptions (doctors or hospitals systems being eliminated) occurring for 2023. Strong plans for 2023 along with the prospect of maybe even a lower Part B premium for 2023 could take some sting out of the tough inflation we are faced with today.

One change we are focused on now is more government rules regarding how agents interact with their clients (and prospective clients). There are many strict rules from CMS (Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services) on how agents interact with those on Medicare or new to Medicare. Most of the rules came about in 2006 when Medicare Part D first came into existence and many agents were taking advantage of people confused by Part D and enrolling them into plans that were not in the best interest of the member. Fast forward to now and turn on your TV and see all the misleading national commercials advertising Medicare plans. CMS has seen a huge uptick in complaints from Medicare beneficiaries that have called the national call centers (Joe Namath ad, Jimmy Walker ad etc). Because of the large increase in complaints received by CMS, CMS has created additional rules for all agents (not just the national call centers). Earlier this year CMS released a final rule requiring agents to record phone calls with Medicare beneficiaries. These recordings must occur before, during and after the sale and or discussion of Medicare Advantage and Medicare Part D products. The recordings need to be saved for ten years. At Ohio Health benefits we have thousands of calls each year with our clients as well as calls with new potential Medicare clients. While we are somewhat frustrated by the new rules (why punish the local reputable agents when the national call centers are the problem??) we are working with our phone vendor and our insurance carrier partners to quickly get a system in place to be able to record the calls per the new requirements. More on that to come.

With almost two thirds of 2022 behind us we are having another great year at OHB! We continue to get many referrals from our clients as well as a multitude of other sources. It is extremely gratifying to hear comments, get notes of appreciation and even phone calls from clients expressing gratitude for the exemplary service received from one or more of our team members. We know there are many agents pounding the streets and making phone calls looking for new business. We are very blessed to have great clients and friends that keep spreading the word about OHB and the phones keep ringing! I am also blessed to have such a great team of people surrounding me. We are getting bigger and better each year. We have a great team of people rolling up their sleeves now and getting ready for the busy season. As always if you have any areas of concern, please do not hesitate to call me directly and let’s talk!

–Steve Clark