starting
  • Tips for Dealing With Difficult Clients

    Anyone who deals with the public will at some point encounter difficult clients, especially with something as emotionally charged as health care. Whatever has upset your client or made them challenging to work with may not be your fault and may not even have anything to do with you, but you still need to find a way to work through the problem and resolve it.

    Take a look at our tips on working with difficult clients.

    Empathize, but don’t escalate – It can be tempting to let your emotions come to the surface when dealing with someone who is angry or frustrated, but you have to remain calm and maintain control of the situation. If the client is upset because of someone else’s actions, responding with your own emotion, even in sympathy, can escalate the situation. Calmly acknowledge your client’s feelings to make them feel like you’re on their side without adding more fuel to the fire.

    Get to the root of the issue – You can’t solve a problem you don’t understand. Ask open ended questions until you understand exactly what mistake or misunderstanding led to the problem. Especially if someone is upset, you may have to sort through a certain amount of venting to get to the heart of the issue, so be patient and keep asking questions until you’ve figured it out.

    Don’t apologize for things that aren’t your fault – Eliminate “I’m sorry” from your vocabulary unless something truly is your fault. It can be instinctive to apologize to someone who is upset, but by doing so you indirectly take responsibility for the problem. You can be empathetic and acknowledge someone’s feelings of frustration or disappointment, just use language that focuses on their emotions and not on accepting blame. Phrases like “I can understand why you’re frustrated” or “I’d be upset in your situation, too” can work as alternatives.

    Don’t over-promise to smooth things over in the moment – Promising you’ll fix something right away is well-meaning and may calm a client down in the moment, but if it turns out you can’t fix it or that it will take some time or involvement from other people, you’ve just created another problem. Now not only is the client upset about the original issue, they’re upset about being promised a resolution that hasn’t materialized. If you’ve offered solutions and your client has refused them, don’t offer them everything just to make them happy. Ask them something like “what resolution are you looking for today?” or “what would make this right for you?” If what they initially ask for isn’t possible or isn’t appropriate, offer an alternative.

    Take ownership of the situation – Whether the situation is your fault or not, you’ll gain your client’s trust by taking ownership of the problem and committing to find a solution. This doesn’t mean you have to do everything single handed, but it does mean you stay involved until the problem is resolved. If a problem requires several steps or a period of days to fix, communicate that clearly to your client and follow up as things progress.

    Know when to say no – There are going to be times when a client simply wants something from you that you can’t give them. If you’ve tried to offer solutions and been turned down, you’re better off simply telling the client that those are the options and if they’d like to try and find a solution elsewhere they’re welcome to. Don’t compromise your personal ethics or business practices for the sake of one angry person.

    Dealing with difficult clients can be a challenge, but if you can turn one around, they’re often the most loyal and supportive clients you can find.

  • Medicare Advantage Plans May Lead to Better Outcomes

    We know that Medicare Advantage plans can often be less expensive month to month, but is it possible that they can also lead to better health?

    A few reasons why Medicare Advantage plans may actually lead to healthier clients.

    Help catch problems early – MAPD plans with robust claims and records tracking systems can help make sure that a member is receiving the routine preventive care and follow-up visits that they need. Many also offer wellness programs for things like starting an exercise program or quitting smoking, that can help curb common health problems like high blood pressure and high cholesterol.

    Coordinate care between different providers – A designated primary care physician handling specialist referrals can mean a member’s doctors has a better understanding of their overall health and to better coordinated treatment plans.  Medication Therapy Management (MTM) programs offered by plans can also help make sure that prescriptions written by different doctors are working together, and work with doctors when adjustments may be warranted.

    Cut back on repeated or unnecessary tests and procedures – No one likes to go in for blood work, MRIs, or other diagnostic tests. Medicare Advantage plans can help keep track of tests ordered by various doctors and save clients time and money by preventing duplicate procedures, or procedures that may not be necessary in light of their overall health.

    Get better outcomes at a lower cost – Appropriately coordinated care can save members money in copays and help keep premiums affordable for everyone. Most importantly, getting the right care at the right time can result in healthier members!

    Medicare Advantage plans won’t be the right option for every client and it’s important to offer the appropriate plan, whether it’s a Medicare Advantage plan or a Medicare Supplement. However, it’s important to consider the potential benefits of coordinated care through a Medicare Advantage plan, and not just the lower cost.

  • Tips for Keeping Client Data Secure

    With the recent hacks of high profile insurers and retailers, data security has become headline news. As an independent agent, you are responsible for ensuring the security of any data you have in your possession.
    Below are some recommendations for how to ensure your clients’ data is protected.

    Password protect any computers or mobile devices that can access client information – Any devices that can access client information should be secured. Every device will allow you to set a password or passcode, and some devices may also allow alternate methods like security patterns or fingerprint scans. Remember that this doesn’t just apply to computers. Smart phones and tablets that can access your email or address book should also be secured.

    Keep your software updated – Software developers do their best to fix any security issues or add protection against new threats as quickly as possible, but it’s still your responsibility to make sure that those updates are installed as soon as they become available. It’s also important to pay attention to when developers end support for older software. For example, Microsoft stopped releasing security updates for Windows XP in April of 2014.

    Use only secure wi-fi networks – Any time you access an open or public wireless network, other people may potentially be able to access your data. Fake networks in cafes or other public places are also a popular way for identity thieves to gather information. If you must use a network that is not secured, do not access any client data while you’re connected.

    Limit access to client data – If you have employees or family members who have access to your computer, mobile devices, or your office in general, do your best to limit the information they can access. Set up separate accounts on computers so that you can limit access to only necessary data, and keep close track of mobile devices.

    Only transmit client data by secure email or fax – Any time client personal information needs to be sent to another party, it must be sent either via secure email or by fax. Even if you’re sending the information to the client themselves, it must be sent securely in case the email is intercepted or accessed inappropriately.

    Lock hard copy files in file cabinets or a separate file room – Many hard copies of applications or client policy information may still need to be kept to comply with records retention requirements. Invest in a locking file cabinet, or keep files in a separate room that can be locked. Also, don’t leave client files sitting out unattended while you’re working if your desk or other workspace can be accessed by other people.

    Keeping client data secure does require some extra steps, but those extra steps can save you and your clients expensive and time consuming problems.

  • Happy Anniversary to Medicare!

    In July of 1965, President Lyndon Johnson signed the legislation that formed the Medicare and Medicaid programs. In the fifty years since, millions of Americans have gotten the important care they need thanks to the Medicare and Medicaid programs, and it’s difficult to imagine health care in the United States without it.

    By caring for some of our most vulnerable populations, Medicare and Medicaid provide a vital service in protecting the health of those who need help the most.

    As part of their celebration of Medicare’s golden anniversary, CMS is collecting stories of the lives changed by this program. If you’d like to share your story, you can do so on Medicare.gov by clicking here.