At Advocate Health Advisors we often receive questions about our relationship to insurance companies and how we, as an FMO, help your local insurance agent provide the best possible service to you, their client. In this article we will discuss our relationship to others in the Medicare space, as well as provide clear definitions for each relevant entity. Let’s dive in.
Field Marketing Organization (FMO)
Field Marketing Organizations, often abbreviated as FMOs, are the backbone that helps to market, sell, and distribute insurance products to clients. We support our agents, which translates into an easier experience for you; here’s how.
Support & Assistance
We help your agent sift through the complexities of Medicare, the fine print and answer their questions as they arise to better serve you. Our team doesn’t handle the enrollment applications directly—we recommend agents send those directly to the carrier so it can be processed as quickly as possible.
Contracting is a big deal in insurance. It dictates which plans your agent can offer and where they can offer them. Agents use us to manage the relationships with carriers on their behalf so they can offer the best plans in your area and for your specific situation.
Online Enrollment Tools
The availability of online enrollment tools varies from FMO to FMO, but generally there will be a CMS-approved service that allows you to browse Medicare Advantage (Part C), Medicare Supplement Insurance (Medigap coverage), and Medicare Part D (prescription drug coverage) plans.
An often overlooked, but very important aspect of an FMO, is compliance. We work hard to ensure your agent is using approved marketing materials that truly represent the products sold by the insurance companies. Misrepresentation is a big deal in Medicare sales and it’s not in our best interests to trick you or use bait and switch tactics in advertising to lure you into contacting our agents.
We also take an agent’s fiduciary responsibility to you to heart. They must, to the best of their knowledge, enroll you in the best plan for your situation independent of carrier or financial incentive involved.
Licensed Insurance Agents
In order to sell Medicare health plans, agents must be licensed in each state in which they market or sell. So, let’s say someone wanted to offer insurance in Florida and New York—they would need to complete the licensing requirements in both states and get approval to sell insurance there from those state governments.
Believe it or not, some agents are licensed to sell insurance in every US state, although as you can imagine that’s a pretty rare occurrence. Agents are then required to contract with carriers, such as Humana, UnitedHealthcare, Molina, and others to offer plans in the areas they’re hoping to sell insurance in. We highly recommend you find a local agent that understands the plans in your area rather than an out-of-state agent or call center.
As an FMO, we facilitate the relationship and contracting between the agent and the carrier.
Insurance carriers provide the plans we help market and that you purchase from licensed insurance agents. Agents and carriers provide support for plans throughout the year, so they should be your point of contact if any issues or questions arise. We also recommend that you reach out to your agent rather than the carrier to make a plan change during qualifying life events or the specific times of the year that you can adjust your coverage or switch plans.
This is because many independent agents are multi-carrier, meaning they can run quotes from multiple carriers to find the best plan for your situation. If you ask a captive agent (an agent that’s exclusively contracted with a single carrier), they will only be able to show you plans from that carrier.
Wrapping It Up
The agents who work with Advocate Health Advisors partner with the carriers to serve you and help you find the plan that best suits your unique needs. In most cases agents will only suggest a change if it’s ideal for your specific health and financial situation. We also recommend researching plans, whether on your own or with a licensed insurance agent, each year during the Medicare Annual Election Period that runs from October 15th to December 7th. Plans change yearly and coverage may shift dramatically with certain carriers throughout the year.
If you would like to get a free, no-obligation consultation to review your coverage, give us a call at (833) 233-6812 (TTY:711) or send us an email at [email protected].