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!

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.

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

Don’t Miss National General’s Short Term Products! | Click for Contracting Details

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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Why Cross Sell GTL’s Advantage Plus Hospital Indemnity Plans?

Who should you talk to about a Hospital Indemnity Policy (HIP)? What are the key selling points to mention? When and how can you bring it up?


Click here to view the full webinar.


A HIP Consumer Toolkit is coming Soon!

Remember to bring HIP up this Open Enrollment! Advantage Plus is specifically designed to help cover out-of-pocket expenses including:

  • Hospital Confinement
  • Dental/Vision
  • Outpatient Surgery
  • Ambulance Trips
  • Skilled Nursing Facilities
  • Cancer Treatments

Contact your Cornerstone representative today to get contracted!

Tips for a Successful AEP!

With AEP starting on Sunday, we would like to provide you with some helpful tips on how you can make this AEP your most successful!



  • Electronic submission is preferred
  • Submitting Direct to the Carrier
    • When you fax your applications to the carriers you must submit 1 application at a time and keep your fax confirmation for each app. If an application becomes lost or is not received, you may need your backup documentation to prove the initial submission date.




Medicare Advantage & PDP

Medicare Supplement (AHLIC, ACI, CLI)




Allwell – Online submission strongly encouraged

Medicare Advantage




Medicare Advantage & PDP

Medicare Supplement




Cigna 877-704-8186
CSI 855-304-2855


Medicare Advantage – OH

*Please contact senior service rep for out of state numbers




Humana MarketPoint 877-889-9936
Medical Mutual

Medicare Supplement

Medicare Advantage




Medico – OH ONLY

Medicare Supplement

All Other Products

*Please contact senior service rep for out of state numbers




Omaha 866-799-9076
Paramount 419-887-2039
The Healthplan 740-699-6164
Transamerica (Medicare Supplements) 866-834-0437


Medicare Advantage

Medicare Supplements





Wellcare 866-473-9124



    • It’s always best that you request to see a copy of the beneficiaries Medicare card to ensure the claim number you are putting on the application is correct. You should never assume the Medicare number is their SSN with an A on the end.
    • While most elections will be marked AEP this time of year, it’s still important to make sure you are using the correct election period for age-ins or other special circumstances. Not sure which election to use?  Find it here!
    • These numbers are extremely important! The plan numbers are how the carrier enrolls the beneficiary into the correct plan.  Here are the OH numbers.  Contact your senior service representative if you need additional states.
    • Always make sure you and the applicant sign and date the application. Remember, you should not sign and date the application until it is in your possession.
    • Double check that all signatures are complete and the dates are correct (we see a date of birth or effective date listed as a signature date frequently).



    • Please remember, CMS states that you have 48 hours from the time YOU sign the application to get it submitted to the carrier. Some carriers now require receipt in 24 hours!  Electronic submission is safest.
    • Don’t forget that you have to enter Premier, Gateway and Silverscript enrollments online through their agent portals to receive commissions!
    • This is very important as this is how you are paid! In cases when the incorrect writing number is listed on the application the carrier will drop the policy as a house account until a correction is processed.

NAHU’s Exclusive Membership Discount Available | Offer Ends Soon!

NAHU’s Exclusive Membership Offer!

Join NAHU today and save $50 off your annual dues as an investment in you and their commitment to the senior market.


Don’t wait! Hurry to join by October 15th to receive $50 off your annual dues!



 Who is the National Association of Health Underwriters (NAHU)?

NAHU is the only professional agent organization that represents agents and brokers who work with Medicare products and Medicare beneficiaries. Their strong relationships on Capitol Hill and growing influence with the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) should make NAHU your valued choice for professional development and advocacy.

 NAHU has a long history of working on Medicare issues. In 2002, NAHU joined in lobbying for a drug benefit and for a new program that would allow private insurance plans to include a separate drug plan to offer benefits to Medicare beneficiaries. After over a year of intense lobbying, the White House invited Janet Trautwein and John Greene to attend the bill signing of the Medicare Modernization Act. As Medicare Part D began the implementation process, NAHU was involved from the beginning, with prescription drug discount cards added to the current program today. NAHU was recognized during a special White House ceremony for extraordinary efforts in enrolling Medicare beneficiaries in Part D.


Why be a member of NAHU?

Today, Medicare remains a complex program touching private insurance and government programs alike. It is important that you stay up to date on the issues and regulations, and NAHU is a tremendous resource. 


Cornerstone Added Value

Cornerstone has recently accepted an invitation to be a part of NAHU’s Medicare Principals Council, which is specifically comprised of the most senior executives in this type of organization. Members of this group interact with peers at their practice level from around the country.

WEBINAR: Molina Individual ACA Update for 2018

Join Cornerstone & Molina for a webinar series to discuss their 2018 Individual ACA product and benefits to prepare you for OEP!

Please register for one of the webinar sessions below:


DATE: Tuesday, October 10

TIME: 10:00am

Click here to register.


DATE: Thursday, October 12

TIME: 2:00pm

Click here to register.

Carriers with January 1 Effective Dates Available!

The following carriers have January 1, 2018, effective dates available for quoting as of October 4, 2017, this afternoon:

  • Aetna Funding Advantage
  • All Savers
  • Anthem (OH, KY, IN)
  • Anthem SOCA BP
  • Humana (OH, KY, IN)
  • UHC (IN, KY, OH)


For more information, contact your Cornerstone representative today!