The Advantages of Grassroots Marketing

Jaime Lebròn

Jaime Lebròn | Director, Medicare/Individual

Building a book of business is the biggest challenge brokers have to contend with. Many new agents entering the insurance arena are looking for ways to generate leads for new sales. So what is the secret formula? Unfortunately, there is no silver bullet or single tactic that will bring constant returns. Success lies in a variety of carefully constructed and reformed strategies. Grassroots marketing enables you to get back to the basics of self-promotion when building a book a business.

Grassroots marketing, otherwise known as guerilla marketing, starts from the ground up. Instead of launching a message intending to appeal to many people, grassroots marketing targets your efforts to a small group with the intent that the message will spread to a much larger audience.

This marketing strategy began in 1984 and was first identified by Jay Conrad Levinson in Guerrilla Marketing. According to Levinson, when implementing guerrilla marketing tactics, smaller organizations and entrepreneurs are actually at an advantage. To reap the benefits of guerrilla marketing, you must construct a message and marketing strategy that will build trust and suit customer needs with the overall goal of establishing a relationship with the customer.

This cost-effective marketing tactic is an alternative option to promote your company and your personal brand to a targeted audience. Unlike traditional marketing, i.e. print media and radio, which can eat up a marketing budget quickly, grassroots marketing strategically and precisely influences your target market.

There are a number of different ways to apply grassroots marketing efforts.

Participating in community events is particularly effective for local promotion, providing ample opportunity for face time with your target audience and establishing your brand as the insurance expert in the community. Inexpensive and engaging, community events are ideal for promoting the services you offer that can help clients save on costs or secure the right benefits.

Additionally, volunteering with local community organizations, including a local food bank, charitable organization, or church may lead to support for your business, as well as networking and referral opportunities. The cost? Your time. The more you participate, the more trust you will create as a local resource.

Distributing and posting marketing materials is also a low-cost effective way to promote your business. For example, tear-off flyers with your general information, phone number, and email address can generate lead calls. The key is to display the flyers in locations throughout the community that garner a lot of traffic from your preferred customer base, such as local pharmacies, grocery stores, churches, car washes, bowling alleys, etc. Of course, you should always ask permission to post and keep tabs on calls received along with replenishing the various locations.

The idea of grassroots marketing is to be unconventional and think outside the box with new ideas. Generating a buzz about your service using marketing tactics that appeal directly to your customer base will continually create opportunities for new business and enhanced visibility.

Get out there!

Use grassroots marketing tactics to build and grow your business at the local level. It takes only drive and discipline to make your marketing strategy a success. Re-evaluate what you are currently doing and figure out what more can you do to readily implement new tactics for self-promotion and drive new business.

Ready to get started?  Cornerstone has the resources available to help jump-start your marketing efforts. The Marketing Assets repository on our exclusive Broker Centric platform offers ready-made, easily customizable flyers, postcards, brochures, and heavily discounted mailers, all accessible 24/7. Connect with your Cornerstone representative today if you have questions about starting up a grassroots marketing campaign or gaining access to the marketing assets on Broker Centric.

Happy selling!

Update on Anthem 2018 SBCs and SOBs

The SBCs and SOBs are still being created and have been delayed.  The current ETA is the first part of November.

Please remember you can use Anthem’s plan comparison tool to obtain the spreadsheet style benefit outlines—including grandmothered plans.

For more information, click here.

Anthem to Launch New Pharmacy Benefits Manager

Anthem’s new pharmacy benefits manager will be IngenioRx, which will offer a full suite of PBM solutions starting in 2020, coinciding with the conclusion of the company’s current PBM contract.

IngenioRx will serve customers of Anthem affiliated health plans, as well as non-Anthem
customers, with a seamless, integrated experience by taking Anthem’s new model to the
national marketplace. The IngenioRx pharmacy leadership team combined has more than 100
years of experience in the PBM industry, which will be invaluable in helping to ensure a
seamless transition for members.

To learn more, click here.

Earn Up To $200 With The Medical Mutual’s Medicare Supplement Bonus Program

MMO Med Supp bonus programs are an exciting way to be compensated for selling a very competitive and reputable Medicare Supplement plan.

Take advantage of the MMO Med Supp bonus program that will earn you up to $200 an application.


Click here for the full details.

Updates to Aetna/Coventry 2018 Pharmacy Network

Aetna pharmacy networks vary by plan so it’s important to understand the differences. For 2018 Aetna has 3 pharmacy networks, two of which are being used in Ohio. Some important points to note:

Walgreens is moving from a preferred pharmacy to a standard pharmacy…so it’s still in network, but will not have preferred pricing. On the new Select PDP, Walgreens is out of network (P3 network).

  • P1 – (All OH) MAPD – all plans
  • P1 – (All OH/KY MAPD plans, Aetna Rx Saver PDP, First Health Value Plus PDP)
  • P3 – (Aetna Select PDP)

The biggest difference between the two:

  • Walmart is NOT preferred in P3
  • No Aetna Rx Home Delivery in P3
  • Walgreens is out of network on P3 (Walgreens non-preferred/standard on P1)

S2 is used in states where there aren’t many preferred pharmacies so that pharmacy network does not use preferred pharmacies.


Read more here.

Medical Mutual to Include Northeast Ohio in HMO Strategy

Beginning January 1, 2018, Medical Mutual will expand their HMO strategy to include Northeast Ohio. Members currently enrolled in the MMO Individual ACA Point of Service (POS) product will be mapped to the new network, Northeast Ohio HMO.

Medical Mutual will also be expanding their individual portfolio to the following counties…

Mercy HMO
  • Allen
  • Auglaize
  • Brown
  • Butler
  • Champaign
  • Clark
  • Clermont
  • Columbiana
  • Defiance
  • Fulton
  • Hamilton
  • Hancock
  • Henry
  • Huron
  • Lorain
  • Lucas
  • Mahoning
  • Mercer
  • Putnam
  • Seneca
  • Trumbull
  • Wood
OhioHealth HMO
  • Athens
  • Delaware
  • Fairfield
  • Franklin
  • Hardin
  • Hocking
  • Licking
  • Marion
  • Morrow
  • Richland
  • Union
  • Ashland
  • Ashtabula
  • Cuyahoga
  • Geauga
  • Lake
  • Medina
  • Portage
  • Summit
ProMedica HMO
  • Lucas
  • Wood

CSR Funding Removal Talking Points

  1. How will this impact my current 2017 year plan?
    • The loss of CSR funding, as a result of the announcement from President Trump, will NOT impact the current 2017 benefits for any members. The members will still see the same plan designs, benefits, copays, and coinsurance as they have for the prior 10 plus months of 2017.
  2. How will this impact 2018 plans?
    • Many carriers were required to submit two sets of rates to their respective state departments of insurance—one WITH CSRs and one WITHOUT CSRs. The pricing WITHOUT CSRs may now be approved for 2018 coverage. This should not have any impact on plan designs, benefits, copays, and coinsurance for 2018.
  3. Is my plan being terminated by removal of the CSR payments?
    • No, your plan is not being terminated. See answers 1 and 2 for possible effects depending upon the year.
  4. I just received my renewal notice for 2018. Will I receive an additional increase for 2018?
    • Depending on the carrier, the state, and the plans the clients are enrolled in, clients may see another rate increase to adjust for the loss of CSR payments. Some increases could be significant and could exceed double digits. This will be over and above the normal rate increases for another year older, medical trend, carrier exits, and getting to an 85 percent Medical Loss Ratio.
  5. Will the loss of CSR funding affect all of my clients?
    • This depends again on the carrier, the state, and how they have set up the premium adjustments. Some carriers may spread the rate increase across all members on all plans, while other carriers may apply the rate increase to only silver-level plans. More to come on exactly how this will work and how each carrier will handle it.
  6. Is there anything else I need to do at this time?
    • The short answer is no, there is nothing else you need to do. Beginning outreach to your clients, if you haven’t done so already, could be a start. Let them know what to expect and understand exactly what is occurring. This remains a fluid situation and more will come in the following weeks as to the overall rate impact this will have on your clients.
  7. Will my clients lose their subsidies because of this announcement?
    • The CSRs are separate from subsidies qualified individuals receive to lower monthly premium costs.

Click here for an update on the most recent executive order and CSRs.

Premier Health Will be Out-of-Network for United Healthcare Members In January

Premier Health in Southwest Ohio will be out-of-network starting Jan. 1, 2018. The following United Healthcare Medicare Solutions plans in the southwestern Ohio and Kentucky regions will be impacted:

  • AARP MedicareComplete (HMO) Plan 6 H5253-052
  • AARP MedicareComplete (HMO)  Plan 2 H5253-053
  • AARP MedicareComplete (HMO) Plan 3 H5253-054
  • Dual Complete® (HMO) H5253-059
  • Dual Complete (HMO-POS) H5322-028


Member information

  • Letters to impacted members will start arriving Oct. 23 alerting them to the network change.


Members in AARP Medicare Supplement Insurance Plans, insured by UnitedHealth care Insurance Company, will not be impacted by this change and may continue to access care from any doctor or hospital that accepts Medicare patients.

Update on Executive Order and CSRs

On October 12, 2017, President Trump signed an executive order intended to improve access, increase choices, and lower costs for health care. The order states that it is the policy of the executive branch to facilitate the purchase of insurance across state lines. The order contains three primary directives addressing Association Health Plans, Short-Term Insurance Policies, and Health Reimbursement Arrangements:

  1. Directing the Secretary of Labor to consider proposing regulations or revising guidance to enable more employers to form association health plans (AHP) within 60 days of the date of the order.
  2. Directing the Secretaries of the Treasury, Labor, and Health and Human Services (HHS) to consider proposing regulations or revising guidance to expand the availability of short-term limited duration insurance within 60 days of the date of the order. Specifically, the Secretaries are directed to consider allowing such policies to cover longer periods and to be renewed by the consumer.
  3. Directing the Secretaries of the Treasury, Labor, and Health and Human Services to consider proposing regulations or revising guidance to increase the usability of Health Reimbursement Arrangements (HRA) and to expand employers’ ability to offer HRAs to employees within 120 days of the date of the order.

The order also directs HHS, in consultation with the secretaries of the Treasury, Labor and FTC, to report to the president on state and federal laws, regulations and policies that limit health competition and choice.

Cornerstone will continue to monitor any proposed changes in response to President Trump’s executive order. While this order may mark the beginning of significant changes to health insurance markets, it remains important for brokers to educate their clients on the current ACA regulations and potential penalties throughout this upcoming open enrollment.


Elimination of Payments for Cost-Sharing Reductions

The Cost Sharing Reductions (CSR) were not addressed in the Executive Order issued on October 12, 2017. However, on the same day, the administration announced they would no longer make CSR payments to insurers.

CSRs are a subsidy created by the ACA and paid directly to health insurers. The subsidies provided lower out-of-pocket costs in the form of reduced deductibles, co-pays, and other expenses for silver-level plans purchased through the health care exchange.

The fate of CSRs has been in question for some time due to Congress failing to appropriate funding for the CSRs. During the Obama administration, the House of Representatives successfully sued to end the CSR payments. However, the payments continued while the case was being appealed by the Obama administration. Under the Trump administration, it remained unclear whether or not the appeal and CSR payments would continue. The administration has taken a month-to-month approach in deciding whether or not to pay the CSRs to insurers. Effective beginning with the upcoming October CSR payment, the administration will no longer pay CSRs and takes the position that the CSRs are prohibited, absent an appropriation by Congress.

In response to this announcement, a number of states are reportedly filing suit against the administration in an effort to continue payment of the subsidies.

The CSRs are separate from the subsidies paid directly to qualifying consumers to offset premium costs when purchasing a plan through the exchange. Those subsidies are not affected by this announcement. Additionally, consumers will not see a change in the costs of their plans for the remainder of 2017.

Many insurers have reportedly been preparing for the elimination of the CSR payments by filing an alternative set of rates that reflect significantly higher premiums for 2018 plans.


Individual Mandate and Associated Shared Responsibility Payment

The executive order issued last week along with the executive order issued in January does not eliminate the Individual Mandate or its associated penalties. The IRS has repeatedly indicated that the ACA remains the law of the land and that penalties associated with the individual mandate will be assessed. Most recently, in a “Dear Constituent Letter” issued this past June, the IRS indicated:

“The Executive Order does not change the law; the legislative provisions of the ACA are still in force until changed by the Congress, and taxpayers remain required to follow the law, including the requirement to have minimum essential coverage for each month, qualify for a coverage exemption for the month, or make a share responsibility payment.”

The penalty tax is calculated as the greater of either the “percentage of applicable income amount” or the “flat dollar amount.” The greater of these two amounts is then divided by 12 to determine the penalty that is due for each month that the penalty applies.

The penalty amounts for 2018 have not yet been announced.

For 2017 the penalty was calculated according to the following amounts:

Percentage of income

  • 2.5% of household income
  • Maximum: Total yearly premium for the national average price of a Bronze plan sold through the Marketplace

Per person

  • $695 per adult
  • $347.50 per child under 18
  • Maximum: $2,085

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Cornerstone Introduces National General for 2018 OEP

Write up to four consecutive 90-day Short Term policies with no pre-existing or underwriting after the first policy has been approved.

Cornerstone is now offering National General Short Term and Ancillary products for your clients’ needs in 2018.


The Advantage of Back-to-Back Policies? While the deductible and any out-of-pocket responsibilities start over with each subsequent coverage certificate, any medical conditions that arise and were covered by the initial plan will be covered under subsequent new certificates, subject to plan limitations.


To get contracted, click here.

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