Any agents who are trying to sell any insurance products this year — whether those products protect against medical risk, disability risk, liability risk, or even long-term care (LTC) risk — should be keeping an eye on the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) exchange system.
The Associated Press estimated last year that public exchange program managers were going to spend about $700 million on advertising, marketing and educational campaigns.
It’s not clear how much the exchange program marketers really have left, but private exchange plan sellers — including companies like UnitedHealth Group Inc. (NYSE:UNH) and eHealth Inc. (Nasdaq:EHTH) — seem to be poised to contribute heavily to the effort.
The managers of the state-run public exchanges, such as New York’s NY State of Health, exchange, are training thousands of paid volunteers and enrollment helpers.
Experienced agents and brokers may want to study the exchange efforts — to laugh at bad ideas, borrow good ideas, and look for gaps in need of attention from nimble producers.
NY State of Health recently posted a webinar slidedeck to show how they’re approaching one specific market segment: “Millennials” — the texting, Facebooking young adults whose low anticipated claims costs and frequent lack of incumbent insurance providers make them especially attractive prospects.
Here’s a look at what that exchange is saying to its exchange outreach people.
1. The trainers are presenting some of the information in the form of a quiz
Many of the people who will be reaching out to young adult PPACA exchange prospects are young adults themselves.
Our American society has been giving young people more and more tests and quizzes — and now those young adults are starting to express everyday communications in the form of quizzes.
2. The trainers are talking to the outreach people about quick-and-dirty prospect segmentation
The trainers are trying to help the foot soldiers down in the trenches that young adult prospects come in many different flavors, with many specific needs.
But, elsewhere, the trainers note that most of the prospects will have something in common: The like the idea of getting free or heavily subsidized coverage.
“Highlight stories of consumers with low-cost plans,” the trainers say. “Keep it real and relate the cost to other monetary items. Example: Many young adults can get coverage for less than a monthly cell phone bill.”
3. The trainers are telling outreach people about a cost of inaction — the PPACA individual mandate penalties
The trainers do not tell the outreach people to inform prospects about the many exceptions from the mandate penalty that PPACA provides.
The trainers do tell the outreach people to tell young adults about the existence of the penalties.
“By reminding consumers that there are penalties associated with going without insurance, and it is the ‘new law,’ this can convince even the most reluctant young adult to enroll in coverage,” the trainers say. “Ask them, ‘Would you rather pay something for something, or something for nothing?’”
4. The trainers are encouraging trainees to use simple language to try to explain and promote program features that may have come out of Washington that are difficult to grasp
PPACA offers people who earn less than 400 percent of the federal poverty level access to a premium subsidy tax credit.
On one slide, the trainers ask, “Which phrase do you think is the most effective message for explaining to young adults how tax credits work?”
The options include, “There is financial assistance in the form of tax credits available to help pay for your monthly premiums”; “Tax credits give you a discount on your monthly premium”; and “Tax credits allow you to find affordable coverage that will fit in to your monthly budget.”
Of course, from the trainers’ perspective, “Tax credits give you a discount on your monthly premium,” is the correct answer, because it’s short, sweet and explains how the system benefits the user.
Some other exchange trainer tips include:
- Set up outreach tables at a busy location with foot traffic, and prepare a 30-second script.
- Get young adults to follow through on appointments by persuading them to set reminders on their cell phones.
- The best places for enrollment events are locations where parents or caretakers can bring children.