Mike Smith, LTCP, SGS entered the insurance business in 1993 as a marketing and agent service representative at The Brokerage, Inc. He is now President of The Brokerage— an insurance marketing organization licensed in all 50 states and specializing in life, health, financial and senior insurance products. Smith is responsible for The Brokerage’s marketing strategy, advertising, operations, sales support, web site development, public relations, and business development. In addition, Smith is an active member of NAHU, NAIFA, NAILBA, and The Marketing Alliance amongst other industry staples. Currently, Mike and his wife, Shannon, live in the Dallas/Fort Worth area of Texas with their three children.
What are your thoughts on the Affordable Care Act?
I think the ACA will change the USA as much, if not more, than Social Security or Medicare/Medicaid. For health insurance agents, the ACA presents a gold mine of opportunity. There is not another product in the USA that is required to own by Federal law, but as of 1/1/14, that changed. Owning a Qualified Health Plan (QHP) will be mandatory, or penalties will be assessed.
The ACA is one of the most talked about issues in the industry right now. What is an issue that doesn’t get talked about enough?
We hear way too much about the negatives, like people losing their existing coverage or dysfunctional websites. However, there are many positives like subsidies. People are eligible for subsidies to help them offset the high premiums being charged in the Qualified Health Plans (QHPs). There are also Health Insurance Tax Credits (HITCs) for small businesses to help pay up to 50 percent of their group health premium. This message needs to be spread.
How does your company or practice address that issue?
We host weekly ACA webinars on Friday at 10 a.m. CST to help update our brokers about any changes in the ACA. We also focus on learning how to help people select a QHP and determine their subsidies.
It’s been said that “selling insurance” is the most difficult job in the world. In your opinion, is this true and why?
Selling anything is a difficult job. But we do not sell. Our approach is to educate people in a manner that helps them to determine which insurance options may best fit their individual needs.
To what do you attribute the recent buzz around Indexed Universal Life products (IULs)?
Many investments are not performing as well as they should; taxes are trending higher, not lower in our future. People need and want a way to put cash into a permanent life insurance contract and gain tax favored distributions during their retirement years. Permanent life insurance is an attractive and safe alternative to stocks and potentially lower taxes upon distribution.
What, in your opinion, do agents look for in carriers, IMOs, etc?
Agents want us to assist them with their marketing efforts, increase their sales, and simplify their administration by becoming their “marketing partner” and back room support.
What is your ideal/favorite product to sell and why?
Right now, my favorite product line comes from BCBSTX. We are marketing the new ACA plans both on and off-exchange, plus we offer the BCBSTX small group health plans via the SHOP exchange. There has never been a better time to be in the health insurance industry. With BCBSTX as our partner, we are taking our agency to the next level in 2014.
Well, thank you for taking the time to speak with us. We really appreciate it.