Who Still Doesn’t Have Health Insurance in This Country?

Health InsuranceInsurance brokers have two basic ways of selling to health insurance leads: sell a better policy to the customer who already has coverage, or, sell a new policy to an uninsured prospect. When it comes to sales, it pays to know who still doesn’t have health insurance in the US and why.

A fancy new digital interactive story over at the New York Times digs into the details. Here’s a rundown of the key takeaways and how to apply them to your insurance sales strategy.

The Uninsured Live in the South and Tend to Be Poorer

The main takeaway from this NYT story is that those who still don’t have any health insurance tend to be in the South, as well as the Southwest. They also tend to be poor and local politics lean conservative.

If you do business in the South and get a lead on the phone, be aware how such info may shape your sales conversation. Is this lead currently insured? Uninsured? What’s this lead’s income situation, then? What kind of policy and coverage can such a lead afford? Be aware that price may be more of a consideration for such a lead than your typical middle-class lead.

However, that doesn’t mean a lower-income lead doesn’t want coverage. The Times points out there’s a “Medicaid gap” for almost three million people in 19 states — they’re too poor to qualify for the Affordable Care Act’s Health Care Marketplace subsidies, which are for those living at 100% to 400% of the federal poverty level, but they’re not eligible for Medicaid either, often limited to specific low-income groups.

Be aware these gap folks may actually qualify for a decent premium — then also tend to be young and in good health.

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Insured Live in the North, Upper Midwest, and West Coast

If you do business in the Northeast, Upper Midwest, and along the West Coast, your clientele’s going to be a good bit different than that of your Southern colleagues. From Pennsylvania to New Hampshire, 90% of folks have coverage. The same is true in Illinois, Iowa, and most of Minnesota. Elsewhere coverage rates are much higher than the South, but not yet single-digit.

For insured prospects, you’ll need to convince them you’ve got better service and better coverage for them than what they’ve already got. Work on your script, your relationship building, and your customer service.

Find a bunch of uninsured Northeast residents? Here, your strategy may rely on educating those uninsured prospects on rising lack-of-coverage penalties. Obamacare’s penalties for those who don’t have coverage (and aren’t exempt because of their income) goes through the roof next year. In 2016, the penalties are:

  • $2,085 max per household — nearly 10 times the 2014 penalty — or 2.5% of income
  • $695 per-person penalty
  • $347.50 per-child penalty

If your lead will be subject to these penalties, getting covered should be top of their to-do list.

Keep an Eye on Local Medicaid Issues

“Medicaid expansion continues to be a huge predictor of how many people remain uninsured in a given state,” writes the Times.

For your insurance business, keep track of what the papers are saying about Medicaid programs in your agency’s state or states. Alaska and Montana are both beginning to expand Medicaid coverage, so expect some changes in who’s covered there.

If your state already has a robust Medicaid program, your lead pool is more likely to have an existing policy that you’ll need to beat to win the sale. If your state government has blocked Obama’s Medicaid expansion, you likely have a different pool of leads, one that could include more uninsured prospects.

Or if you have customers in two states, be aware that your business model could be very different for each region. Say for instance you have an office in St. Louis, but write policies for customers in both Missouri and southern Illinois. Medicaid programs were expanded in Illinois, but not in Missouri. On the Times’ graphic, Illinois is a sea of pale blue, meaning it has fewer than 10 percent uninsured residents. Outside of major metro areas, Missouri is a sea of purple, meaning there’s a 50% higher uninsured rate than Illinois.

Coverage Is Trending Up But Slower  

Another important takeaway from the Times — this year’s map doesn’t look much better than last year’s. The article points out Obamacare anticipated getting an additional 32 million uninsured Americans insurance coverage. Today, that seems unlikely.

In 2010, the prediction was eight million signups in 2014, with 21 million by the end of 2016. The real numbers for 2014 were 6.3 million signups, with only 10 million additional signups expected by the end of next year.

That’s still 10 million more Americans with health coverage than pre-ACA, but there’s still plenty more people out there who need affordable coverage that meets their health care needs. It’s clear insurance brokers still have an opportunity to meet those needs.

Final Thoughts

So the ACA is making a difference for some of those who need it, but just not everyone who needs health insurance coverage. There’s still significant opportunity for insurance sales in most parts of the country, though you may need to tweak your strategy based on your location. And it’s worth keeping an eye on public policy discussions going on in your neck of the woods, as it might affect your insurance business.

What about you? Are your sales trending up, but slower than you’d like? If your sales prospecting funnel needs new leads that need to take advantage of the current open enrollment, consider adding aged health insurance leads to your strategy.

The Aged Lead Store has thousands of aged health insurance leads that need to find coverage during this year’s open enrollment. Stock up on quality leads today and make your job easier.

 

About Troy Wilson