Craig Ritter, president of Ritter Insurance Marketing, gave his annual State of the Senior Market address to 370 agents from across the country this week.
We’ll provide the highlights here, but if you’d like to get the full picture, you can view the presentation in its entirety!
## Ritter’s Year in Review
This past year was an exciting and successful one for Ritter Insurance Marketing! In 2018, Ritter agents produced more than $32 million in Medicare Supplement production. This is up three percent from 2017. Our agents also completed more than 63,000 Medicare Advantage (MA) enrollments in 2018. While this is down four percent from 2017, we’re excited to see an overall increase of 20 percent in the last two years. Our biggest success was Medicare Part D enrollments, which came to a grand total of 84,085 — an increase of 45 percent from 2017!
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As Ritter’s success continues to grow, so does our staff. We hired 30 new team members this past year, totaling 190 full-time employees.
Ritter’s headquarters is still in Harrisburg, PA, with regional offices in Scottsdale, AZ, Atlanta, GA, Nampa, ID, Omaha, NE, and New York City. Our Harrisburg staff, currently divided among three buildings, will soon be moving to a much larger building right next door to accommodate our exponential growth. Our move is currently planned for April 2019.
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We have also acquired two new Medicare contracts, Lasso Healthcare and Bright Health, and continue to work with more than 20 Medicare Advantage Prescription Drug carriers, including the most competitive plans regionally and nationwide. Our online enrollment tool for agents, Medicareful.com, has continued to grow as well. Several new carriers joined the lineup on Medicareful in 2018. These carriers included Capital BlueCross, Clover Health, EnvisionRxPlus, HealthNow, Highmark, Lasso Healthcare, UnitedHealthcare, and Vibra Health Plan.
We have found that agents who start using Medicareful rarely stop and normally see an increase in their production! Get your own Medicareful site today
Medicare Regulation and Legislation
This past year had some significant changes that went into effect for the 2019 Annual Enrollment Period and the 2019 plan year. The Medicare Advantage Disenrollment Period was replaced with the new MA Open Enrollment Period (OEP). You can read more about the marketing rules for OEP in our educational blog post. Another major change included new Medicare cards. All beneficiaries should now have their new cards and can use their new Medicare Beneficiary Identifier (MBI) located on the card. Your clients’ Health Insurance Claims Numbers (HICNs) can no longer be used starting January 1, 2020.
Looking ahead to next year, we’re also in the process of preparing our agent base and their clients for upcoming changes to Medicare Supplement eligibility in 2020. Plan F will not be available to individuals gaining Medicare eligibility on or after January 1, 2020, and Plan G will become the default plan for guaranteed issue and open enrollment for “newly eligible beneficiaries.”
In 2018, the Medicare Marketing Guidelines (MMG) were rebranded as the MCMG, or the Medicare Communications and Marketing Guidelines. Some changes to the guidelines include allowing agents to market MA/prescription drug plans (PDPs) in waiting rooms of health care settings. Additionally, many materials now fall under the “communication” category instead of “marketing,” meaning CMS-approval will not be needed as often. If you have a question about your marketing materials, we still encourage you to reach out to us and Ritter’s full-time compliance officer for answers.
Enrollment Stats and Industry Trends
Medicare enrollment statistics continue to increase across the nation. Looking at growth in the overall Medicare market for individual MA plans, there was a seven-percent jump from January 1, 2018, to January 1, 2019, bringing enrollments up to 18 million nationwide.
Ritter’s top three carriers in 2018 included UnitedHealthcare, Humana, and CVS/Aetna who collected about four million, three million, and one million MA enrollments, respectively. Each of the three carriers also tallied approximately four million PDP enrollments.
This past year was also a big one for changes in industry trends and more moves toward vertical integration! The CVS and Aetna merger closed in late November, with the deal coming to a grand total of $69 billion. In preparation for the deal, Aetna also sold their Medicare Part D business to WellCare Health Plans. WellCare’s transaction with Aetna tripled their PDP membership to approximately 3.3 million people.
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Thank you for staying committed to Ritter. Our dedicated, hardworking agents continue to help us grow and succeed. We are looking forward to a bright and successful 2019!