BLOG

FCC Outbound Call Issues - November 18, 2022

I have had several agents think that as long as they are calling on behalf of selling Medicare Supplements that this is compliant call activity. There is also a feeling of helplessness as these “violators” are spoofing numbers and the public thinks there is no way to trace so why bother complaining. However, there IS something we need to do to educate the public.

Here is my suggested plan of action that I have already started personally:

Educate the public about having their number on the Do Not Call registry. Once it is, any telemarketing call is an FCC violation punishable by up to a $10,000 fine per instance. Yes, there are ways to spoof a phone number and think you are talking to a given entity when really you are talking to someone completely different. There are known issues with calls from SummaCare and Humana in Ohio where the beneficiary thinks they are talking to the carrier and really talking to someone switching their plan. The carrier has no record of their sales departments making these calls and the numbers are NOT registered to the carrier.

This is also an FCC violation and should have a complaint filed. If the beneficiary is receiving calls before 8 am or after 9 pm, this is also a FCC violation. In order to file the complaint, the beneficiary can complete the attached form and fax/mail it in. Or they can use this link https://consumercomplaints.fcc.gov/hc/en-us/requests/new...

You can also read more about this at Phone Form - Descriptions of Complaint Issues – FCC Complaints https://consumercomplaints.fcc.gov/.../articles/360001201223

The FCC has a data center that captures and makes these complaints public. We can then track the complaints quantitatively and have better information when we talk with CMS and legislature about next step requests surrounding marketing practices.

CMS has openly stated that they cannot split out the call centers and the individual agent. They have also stated that tracking outbound calls must start at the FCC. So, let’s show CMS and the DOIs that we want to get these calls to stop just as much as they do, and we will help educate both the agents and the public. We must stop being viewed negatively by CMS and I think this is one way where we all stand to benefit.

To complete the form online, here are the steps:
1. Submit a request – FCC Complaints (https://consumercomplaints.fcc.gov/hc/en-us/requests/new... ) for EACH different number that calls inappropriately
2. Enter in email, name, and a very short description 3-5 sentences. (more detail can be entered later) Select “Unwanted Calls/Messages (including do not call and spoofing)”
3. Select “All Other Unwanted Calls” as the Sub Issue
4. Answer “Yes” to Did the call/message that you are reporting advertise any type of property, goods, or services? If the call came into a home phone, then the “Phone Method” is Wired. If the call came into a cellphone, “it is wireless.” Most beneficiaries do not have a VOIP system.
5. Select “Residential” for “Phone Type/Location”
6. Enter in the beneficiaries’ phone number that received the call
7. Answer the question for if this number is listed on the Do Not Call Registry
8. Enter the date of the call
9. Enter the time of the call
10. Select if it was a “Live call, Prerecorded call or Text” for Type of Call or Message
11. Answer Did anyone give permission to contact?
12. Answer did you receive Caller ID information? If yes, what was the Caller ID Number and Name?
13. Was the caller’s business name provided during the call/message? If yes, was the business name given at the beginning of the call and if so, what was the name given?
14. Provide the phone number given that called
15. Next, please provide details and additional information about what happened on the call. You can also attach pictures and documents if needed.
16. Last, enter in your contact information and attest that the complaint information is true and correct.
You can also download a copy of the Complaint Form at: https://consumercomplaints.fcc.gov/.../360058831291-Paper...

Part of being a resource in your community is providing solutions to issues that are a run for them.

Fears - November 12, 2022

I believe this is true to an extent. Everyone wants to show how accomplished they are and the success, which is great. Not many are willing to share the roller coaster that it takes to be successful, and how to maneuver through it.

You started. Stop judging yourself. You started. You have a picture in your head of a life you want and you said, “I’m going to do this.” This is HUGE. Stay focused. Even if it’s one baby step at a time. Even if you have to work part time until your dream can support itself. But stay focused. Ask yourself these questions:

Do I have a plan on how to get to my goal? With deadlines? Who do you need on your team to help get you to your goal? What actions am I taking today to help get me to my goals?

It doesn’t happen overnight. But keep at it. It took 16 years for me to get where I am. A lot of learning. A lot of mistakes. A lot of people saying, “you can’t or shouldn’t do this.” And even better, so many saying you’re nuts, but I see your vision and I’m here. Find your tribe. Reach out if you need to. You aren’t alone and your dreams can happen if you work at it.

Expectations - October 31, 2022

Good morning and Happy Halloween! Today’s installment of Ms. Medicare’s things people think but are afraid to say……we are going to talk about expectations. This week I had several agents reach to me to discuss what to do regarding issues with their managers/principals, uplines and just in general, so I thought I would share.

If you are unhappy with your manager/principal, mentor, upline, TALK TO THEM. Tell them what you need and ask for feedback on how to improve the relationship.

For those in a “management” role, understand this: those that work with and for you have dreams, goals and aspirations of their own. Have you bothered to ask them what those are? What are you doing to help incorporate those goals into your own “dream?” Have you painted a picture of your vision and shown that person how if you move together, anything is possible? Did you MAKE THEM FEEL HEARD?

This week I have had:
1. New Kids bewildered because they were told they could achieve insane numbers with no map on how to do it. *Yes, the new kid MUST take control of their own business, but did you show the way? To the New Kid, did you actually to do the homework?
2. Semi-retired agents feeling harassed with “hate” emails asking “Why aren’t you producing enough?” My response was “did you, as the agent, set the expectation of what you were looking to achieve at the beginning?” I do once a year discussion with my entire downline on this and a touch base in June/July. If so, respond to that question by reminding them of the discussion.
3. Agents who have committed to co-op funding and requested leads, and yet refuse to call the leads or use the funds. When asked why, the answer is basically they want the money, leads and the contacts/vendors to be handed to them. You have got to take control of your own business.

This is a two-way street. You are in the driver’s seat of where you want YOUR business and your professional development to go. If you’re not happy with how it’s going, look at your expectations, then look at your plan, last communicate and be engaged. Keep a notebook so when things slowdown in January, you can do a true assessment and make corrections to grow. I will be having a FREE conference on March 21-23rd to work on strategies and next steps, called Medicare & Margaritas.

Lastly, discussions with me are always confidential. I try to provide guidance and suggestions on next steps. I will not give you a list of 50 things and say this is the yellow brick road to Oz. I don’t believe that the same things work for everyone. You have to play to your strengths and communicate. I hope this helps. Happy Monday!

New Regulations - Ocober 8, 2022

I just read what feels like my 9 millionth comment and post about the compliance changes and I want to take a minute to educate you on why it’s just not that easy to make this all be better. Hopefully, it’s enough for you to understand and maybe, just maybe, help with the solution. Cause there ARE ways you can help.

Everyone knows that the call center agencies and lead vendors using foreign call centers are the source of the majority of the CMS complaints. When the seniors call to complain the reason they are filing the complaint is because they think they are talking to Medicare and Medicare is changing their plan.

Now, on the back side of this, the Departments of Insurance and CMS - Medicare, when they get these calls, only have ONE option to file it under and that puts the independent insurance agent AND these call centers in one bucket. So, when CMS in February proposed the changes for 2023 and ran the reports, they saw a spike in the complaints and candidly, people who really don’t understand what we do and how we do it, made a broad stroke decision to change the definition of what a TPMO (Third Party Marketing Organization) is and proposed a rule to try and prevent these seniors from thinking they were talking to Medicare. In May, the final rule was issued for 2023 year. Once that rule is in place, it is set and takes a lot to change it.

When the verbiage of the Final Rule came out, the lawyers from all of the carriers and CMS put their spin on what “ensuring” that the disclaimer was given with 60 seconds meant. So many questions. And candidly, CMS didn’t think through how the rule would effect the smaller sized agent who doesn’t already have recording systems put in place. Call centers have had this requirement for years and candidly, they didn’t think it would be such a hardship. They thought wrong.

So, the professional organizations like NAHU, NAIFA, AHIP started asking for clarifications and so did the carriers. Except the answers weren’t consistent. Now CMS is drafting clarification on what needs to be recorded, but the requirement will NOT entirely go away. This wasn’t designed to magically stop all the illegal calls. It was designed to help with gramma thinking that she was talking to Medicare. (And it probably won’t) but, we need to comply and there are actually benefits for us with this since the people we are working with are known to be losing their memory.

Anyway, so what can you do? Right now, best thing you can do is talk to your Congressman or Senator and explain that lumping the Independent Agent in with the call centers under the TPMO Definition makes no sense and we need to be viewed as our own separate channel. We want the TPMO definition to be updated and to NOT include us. There is a team that has been actively working on this for weeks/months now.

Next, get active locally with one of your professional organization! Share your stories. Real life examples and the outcomes. We NEED those to help paint both the VALUE OF WHAT WE DO and what needs to be changes. Bitching on Facebook or other social media platforms will not help. But getting involved and using your voice for your livelihood will. You’ll be amazed at the contacts you meet and the education you’ll receive while getting involved too! Guys, NOW is the time. You are NOT HELPLESS. To join NAHU, visit: https://nahu.org/membership/join-now

Presentation Skills - September 17, 2022

Let’s talk about this. We all HATE sitting in a room/meeting and having the speaker read slides. And yet, presenters continue to do this. Here’s some of my tips for those of you terrified to speak in front of a group or that are looking to get better.

Rule #1 - KNOW YOUR AUDIENCE! Many of you have heard me ask at the beginning of any class, “who’s never heard me talk before?” I do this cause they need the “warning” that my classes aren’t your normal lecture. They are fast pace, VERY direct, and if I’m on fire, they will be entertaining.

You need to know your room. Who is your audience? Colleagues? Brand new agents? People that have never dealt with Medicare? Scared kids? Each one of these needs to be approached in a different manner. KNOW YOUR ROOM!

Next, KNOW YOUR MATERIAL. If you’re reading from slides, do everyone a favor. Print them out. Hand them to each person and just go home. You are useless. People can read on their own just fine. They come to hear you so they learn something MORE. So do your homework and bring more to the table than just what they can read. And when you do, mention where the info comes from so that you have credibility. Also, make sure that you know the 3 key points you want your audenice to walk away with. Cause that’s all you get…..3 and that’s if they were listening. Speak with intention of this fact.

Next, take a deep breath. Find a few people in the room on either side of the room and talk to them like you are talking to friends. Move around the room. No one likes it when you just lay there and the same holds true to when you just stand there! So MOVE.

Last, have fun. Insurance is boring as hell. We know this. It’s a complex concept to most and a necessary evil to others. Break down the concepts. Give examples. And enjoy what you’re talking about.

To the New Agents - September 10, 2022

YOU CAN DO THIS! One the hardest things about being an agent is getting the discipline to actually work this like a true job. I had a couple of agents say, “I didn’t realize this was going to be so much work.” Yes, yes it is. The trick is having a schedule that has you focus on only business for X amount of time. The days and times of the day can vary, but you have to put the time in. So many procrastinate and then wonder why they are overwhelmed or don’t have the sales results.

The other thing is your first year: you have no idea of what you’re doing. So you try to focus on everything and all the noise out there with ideas and suggestions. Your goal should be to find an upline and mentor that you trust to help you. Do the research. Investigate them. Ask questions. This is your business. Then trust that they can help guide you. Know that whoever you work with understands exactly how you’re feeling and should be able to guide you through the process. But your first year, own that you will feel overwhelmed nonstop.

Your second year: the light starts coming on. You realize you did learn some things in year 1. You also have learned from your mistakes and start making the corrections. The joy comes when you go to take the AHIP the second year and find that is way easier than last year. You’ve started creating a name for yourself and you’ve fine-tuned your schedule, both weekly and yearly.

Your third year: you’ve hit your stride. You can actually say, “I’ve got this!” and that feeling overwhelmed isn’t so frequent.

Having realistic expectations of working in this business will help. Actually, working every day will do wonders. But the biggest advice I can give you is trusting your mentor, ask questions (no one thinks you’re stupid. I promise) and when they give you the answer, ask them to cite their source so you learn along the way. And don’t forget to breathe. You’ve got this!

Tim Tebow - July 30, 2022

I listened to Tim Tebow speak a few days ago and his words spoke to what I was doing in Dallas. Clarifying the picture of what I want. I’m amazed at how many men and women came up to me, congratulating me on 2022 Ms.Medicare Conference. At the same time, they asked me WHY? I had others that I’ve interacted with on Facebook do the polite “Hello” and basically run the other way. And you know what? It’s all OK.

My mission: To change the stereotype of what people think an insurance agent is and the negative connotation surrounding our field AND to show people they aren’t alone while working in an industry where you work for yourself. That you can be super successful and do right by the community that you serve. That the money comes along the way naturally, when you do the right thing.

Part of Tim’s speech was about finding your guardrails and I found some of them. I teach EVERYONE. I have for well over a decade. I don’t feel the need to prove to anyone my list of achievements or that I’m qualified and experienced. If you want to know, ask me or any of the people that have attended an event I’ve held over the last 10+ years. There are thousands of agents I’ve helped on all sorts of topics. They will safely tell you: I’m direct. If you do what I suggest, and the homework, it works. If you don’t, it’s your business, to each his own and I still hope you succeed.

For me, integrity is everything. More than money. I feel good knowing that I’ve helped and changed other peoples’ lives. What I also know is, I like my smaller conferences. The largest I’ve spoken to is 1,000 people at once and it’s not for me. But discovering that my line is about 500 people, is huge. I also discovered that hosting 2 conferences a year plus teaching Continuing Education is enough to fill my cup. The rest of my time, I want to spend working one on one with agents, developing them. And last, I need to continue my work focusing on myself and enjoying the life I’ve worked so hard to create.

Everyone has a different vision of the life they want. Not everyone needs the mansion, plane, and Rolex and it’s PERFECTLY OK to paint the picture for your dreams. The contest starts and ends with what do you want? It’s also PERFECTLY OK to try all sorts of things and figure out what fits you and what does. Take what you need/like and leave the rest.