Secret Shoppers

AEP Secret Shoppers

We are in the busiest time of the year because the Federal Government came up with the Annual Enrollment Period better known as the AEP. What's interesting is that a few years ago the Feds said we need to come up with 10 standardized plans, because there was too much confusion for senior consumers to differentiate between the coverages, so they made all companies have the exact same coverages, for example, the F plan.

Today, we have not only Medicare Supplement plans, but we also have Medicare Advantage plans. We also have some plans that are PPOs and we have some that are HMOs. We have each Medicare Advantage Plan with different co-pays and different deductibles. We have some providers like Mayo Clinic that has not accepted MA plans. It is also illegal to tell a consumer they are disenrolling from Medicare when going to a MA plan (but they are). We also have added Part D of Medicare and we have 20-plus companies offering drug coverage with a huge difference in benefits and formularies.

I find the whole process very confusing and I have been in this market since 1981. If the first paragraph isn't alarming enough, this is a kick to the knee caps for me – the Feds have made the consumer decide between October 15 and December 7, 2013 what they want to do for 2014. That is about 53 days, and they keep the coverage for the upcoming year a secret, better than the CIA.

For years we have had an issue with our borders not having enough federal agents protecting our borders, right? Well guess what - this year the Feds hired and trained over 1000 employees they call "Secret Shoppers." Their mission is to try and find an agent that may say something a little bit inaccurate when describing how the PDP coverage works or to make sure you don't mention any other products during this appointment. So if I understand this correctly our government cares more about what kind of drug coverage you give your customers for insurance protection, but they don't care how many drugs are coming across our borders during the AEP. How about putting those Secret Shoppers on our borders during the AEP and really protect our seniors?

I have not gone off the deep end and I love our country, but I find this process to be almost silly to say the least! My hope is that you have a great selling season during the AEP and remember to err on the side of caution as these Secret Shoppers are hungry to find someone to make an example of for rule benders. I believe all seniors should be protected against fraudulous sales tactics, I just find the process to be a confusing and crazy time, and I don't believe it is the best it can be for the senior consumer!

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