The Do’s and Don’ts of a Life-Insurance Exam

Applicant Preparation

Stone Hill is dedicated to helping your client prepare for their life insurance exam. It’s important to ensure the exam is accurate and that it produces the best possible results.  Follow these Do’s and Don’ts from ExamOne and you and your client will be on the way to an easy and fast exam experience.

 The Do’s

  • Get a good night’s sleep
    • Ensures the best resting pulse
  • Stay hydrated
    • Drink a glass of water 1 hour before the exam
    • Makes for an easier blood draw
  • Document medications
    • Prescription and over-the-counter medications including vitamins, herbs and supplements
  • Notify of any past blood draw issues
    • So the examiner can be prepared and bring a smaller needle if necessary

 The Don’ts

  • Consume salt/high-cholesterol
    • (24 hours prior)
    • May affect exam results
  • Do strenuous exercise  
    • (12 hours prior)
    • Working out excessively may release protein into the urine and elevate liver function tests
  • Drink alcoholic beverages  
    • (12 hours prior)
    • Alcohol may cause dehydration and liver function test elevation
  • Use nicotine or caffeine 
    • (1 hour prior)
    • Stimulants may elevate heart rate
    • Black coffee is okay up to 1 hour prior

Posted in Insurance, Life Tagged with:

Diagnosing The Development Stage of Your General Agency

As a general agent, your job is to motivate, educate, and support a group of agents so that they can support their families and so you can support yours. Often times, it is better to use more than just your head to identify problems and solve them, and your best resources are your agents. You have probably tried this at times, and been frustrated. But there is hope. You can use the table below to diagnose where you stand as a team. If you diagnose correctly, you can persuade your agents to have patience with each other while you slowly elevate the performance of all of them.

(Stone Hill is still looking for the authors/sources of this information so that it can be properly attributed.)

Table of 5 Phases of Group Development

Common Operating Characteristics During Stages of Group Development
Atmosphere and relationships Cautiousness Greater closeness within subgroups Close within subgroups, hostility between subgroups Confidence and satisfaction Supportive and open
Goal understanding and acceptance Unclear Some greater clarity, but misperceptions likely Fought over Agreed upon Commitment
Listening and information sharing Intense but high distortion and low sharing Within subgroups, similarities over perceived Poor Fairly good Good
Disagreement and conflict Not likely to emerge; if it does, will be angry and chaotic False unanimity Frequent Based on honest differences Resolved as it occurs
Decision making Dominated by more active members Fragmented, deadlocks Based on power Based on individual expertise Collective when all resources needed, individual when one expert
Evaluation of performance Done by all, but not shared Across subgroups Highly judgmental Done as basis for differentiation but with respect Open, shared, developmental
Expression of feelings Avoided, suppressed Positive only within subgroups, mild ‘digs’ across groupings Coming out, anger Increasingly open Expressed openly
Division of labor Little, if any Struggles over jobs Differentiation resisted High differentiation based on expertise Differentiation and integration, as appropriate
Leadership Disjointed Resisted Power struggles common Structured or shared Shared
Attention to process Ignored Noticed but avoided Used as weapon Attended to compulsively or too uncritically Attended to as appropriate
Posted in Business Development Tagged with: , ,

John Hancock’s Accumulation IUL with Vitality & Retirement Planning – A Powerful Solution!




Posted in Insurance

Remind your Marketplace clients with 2016 subsides to file their taxes

Individuals and families

We strongly encourage you to remind your Marketplace clients who received an Advanced Premium Tax Credit (APTC) in 2016 to file their 2016 federal tax return with Form 8962. They must do this to keep their APTC for the 2018 plan year (if applicable). Keep these important facts in mind:

  • Anyone who receives Marketplace subsidies must file a tax return with the IRS each year. The IRS created a special form that must be included with the tax return, Form 8962 Premium Tax Credit. Marketplace enrollees receiving subsidies must use Form 8962 to reconcile their actual income for the year with the level of assistance they received from the Marketplace.
  • People who received too much assistance could owe money back to the government. People who received less than they were eligible for could get a credit.
  • People who received assistance and do not file with the IRS are at risk of losing their subsidies for a new year of coverage.
  • If your clients bought health insurance on one of the public exchanges or Marketplaces, they should have received Form 1095-A: Health Insurance Marketplace Statement from the Marketplace no later than January 31, 2017. They’ll need Form 1095-A to complete Form 8962. If your clients did not receive Form 1095-A, they should contact the Marketplace.

Neither of us wants our mutual customers to lose their subsidies, and potentially drop their coverage for the 2018 plan year (if applicable) due to affordability issues. This is an opportunity for you to help your clients and continue to establish yourself as their trusted insurance expert.

2016 Form 1095-A and instructions: 

2016 Form 8962 with instructions:

If your clients have questions, they can contact the IRS directly at IRS website or 1-800-829-1040, or speak with their tax advisor.

Posted in Insurance

How to clear your cache and cookies in most Internet Browsers

If you ever run into a “Session Expired” error when using our Term Quote engine, all you have to do is clear the cache and cookies from your browser.  Follow this link on how to Clear Cache and Cookie and we walk you through how to do that in the most common browsers.  As always, if you need any additional assistance, please feel free to contact us.  We are here to help!

Posted in Life, Technology Tagged with: ,

Medigap F & J Deductible Announcements for 2017

October 2016 Announcement from

Deductible Amount for Medigap High Deductible Options F & J for Calendar Year 2017


Medicare supplemental (Medigap) Plan F can be sold with a high deductible option. Before June 1, 2010, Medigap Plan J could also be sold with a high deductible. Effective January 1, 2017, the annual deductible amount for these two plans is $2,200. The deductible amount for the high deductible version of plans F and J represents the annual out-of-pocket expenses (excluding premiums) that a beneficiary must pay before these policies begin paying benefits. CMS updates the deductible amount for plans F and J each year, after release of the August Consumer Price Index for all Urban Consumers (CPI-U) figures by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, which generally occurs in mid-to late September.

Calculation of the Deductible:

The deductible for plans F and J is determined in accordance with section 1882(p)(11)(C)(i) of the Social Security Act. This provision prescribed a deductible of $1,500 for 1998 and 1999 and directed that the amount increase each subsequent year by the percent increase in the CPI-U, all items, US city average. The increase in the applicable CPI-U from 2015 to 2016 is 1.1%, which results in a deductible of $2,200 after rounding to the nearest $10 in accordance with section 1882(p)(11)(C)(ii) of the Social Security Act.

Posted in Government, Medicare Tagged with: , , , ,

Medicare and Veterans Affairs (VA) Benefits

You can have both Medicare and Veterans Affairs (VA) benefits. However, Medicare and VA benefits do not work together. Medicare does not pay for any care that you receive at a VA facility.

  • In order for Medicare to cover your care, you must receive care at a Medicare-certified facility that works with your Medicare coverage.
  • In order for your VA coverage to cover your care, you must generally receive health care services at a VA facility.

Medicare Part B and VA Coverage:

Many veterans use their VA health benefits to get coverage for health care services and items not covered by Medicare, such as over-the-counter medications, annual physical exams, and hearing aids. However, you may want to consider enrolling into Medicare Part B (medical insurance), even if you have VA coverage. Part B may cover services you receive from Medicare-certified providers and provide you with medical coverage outside the VA health system. In addition, if you do not enroll into Part B when you are first eligible to do so, you will most likely incur a Part B premium penalty for each 12-month period you were without Medicare Part B coverage. In addition, you may also experience gaps in coverage.

Medicare Part D and VA Coverage:

Some veterans only use their VA drug coverage to get their medications, since VA drug coverage may offer more generous prescription drug coverage than Medicare Part D, the Medicare prescription drug benefit. Since VA drug coverage is considered creditable, meaning it is as good as or better than the Medicare prescription drug benefit, you can delay enrolling into Medicare Part D without penalty. If you do lose VA drug coverage, make sure you enroll into a Part D plan within 63 days of losing your VA benefits.

Note that although you can have both Medicare Part D and VA drug coverage, the two do not work together. VA benefits only cover the drugs you get from VA pharmacies and Part D plans usually only cover drugs you get from pharmacies that are within the plan’s network.

You may want to join a Part D plan in certain situations. You may want to enroll in a plan if you move into a nursing home outside of the VA health system and need coverage for medications from the nursing home pharmacy. You may also want to enroll in a Part D plan if you qualify for Extra Help, the federal assistance program that helps people with Medicare afford their Part D drug costs.

If you have questions about VA benefits and coverage, contact the VA Health Administration Center at 1-800-733-8387 or 1-877-222-VETS (877-222-8387).

© 2017 Medicare Interactive. All Rights Reserved

Posted in Government, Insurance, Medicare Tagged with: , , , , ,

5-minute Video about Veterans and Military Retirees Getting Medicare Advantage

This post, a video produced by UnitedHealthcare, is one of several posts on military veterans and military retirees and their retirement health plans: VA Health Benefits and Tricare For Life (TFL). Some of the information is specific to UnitedHealth, although a lot of it is generic and can be used if an agent is considering supplementing a veteran’s or a military retirees government-provided healthcare with plans from other carriers. The primary message is:

If You Aren’t Talking To Military Retirees or Veterans About Medicare, You Should!

In a nutshell, the message is twofold:  (1) you as an agent can enroll someone already getting VA Benefits into an MAPD, and s/he can use whichever benefit stream they desire at any time; (2) you as an agent can enroll someone with Tricare For Life (TFL) benefits into an MA-Only. In this case, there is a coordination of benefits between the MA-Only plan and Tricare, with the MA-Only plan being primary and TFL being secondary. (Although this video does not say so, you as an agent must ensure that the MA carrier is coordinating with Tricare). The video underscores the need for you as an agent to ask if the prospect/client is receiving health benefits from any other source in addition to VA or TFL. If yes, you need to do more work to ensure that you do not damage their benefits by enrolling them in an Advantage plan.

The reasons to enroll a veteran or military retiree are (1) go to a provider other than to a VA or on-base doctor, (2) avoid the prioritization and wait-times of the military benefits, (3) chiropractic benefits, (4) Silver Sneakers, (5) hearing-aid benefits, (6) house calls, (7) vision benefits. There may be more or fewer, depending on the MA plan that you enroll your clients in.

Watch this quick video – it will give you a brief preview to help you decide if selling these products makes sense for your consumers.  If you haven’t considered reaching out to military retirees or veterans, now is a perfect time to learn more.

Video describing Veterans and Military Retirees


Posted in Boomer Products, Business Development, Client Services, Government, Insurance, Medicare Tagged with: , , , , , , , ,

A Success Story about a Customer Service Representative Shared by Stone-Hill Agents

Through Stone Hill, agents can employ a part-time customer service rep (CSR) for their Medicare clients. A CSR works for agents on an hourly basis for as many hours a week as they would like or can afford. The price is $18.75/hour (this covers their days off, their holidays, our training of them, as well as their wage). They can help you during AEP or during Lock-in. CSR’s when properly trained in Fraud, Waste, and Abuse and other Medicare topics can help you serve your clients better. CSR’s can help you reach out to your book of business, set appointments, investigate drug formularies and provider networks. If you are interested in such a service, give the Senior Department at Stone Hill a call.

By the way, we have discovered that CSR’s are good at supporting agents but should not be treated as agents. In other words, we have discovered that the first contact between a lead and an agent should be done by the agent and not by the CSR. This first contact is what sets a good agent apart from other agents and CSR’s. It is an agent’s competitive advantage.  If it is outsourced to a CSR, it usually leaves a bitter aftertaste. If it were not so, the CSR could easily become a competitor.

Here is the story in the agent’s words—mostly, with client names and town names changed:

Doug [A Stone-Hill employee],

I want to make you aware of the excellent customer service Terri [a Stone-Hill employee] has provided to John [XXX] in 2016, thus saving me his account for 2017.

I met w/ John and his ex, Jane, today.  On Feb 15 of this year [2016], he called me to get out of his Medicare Advantage plan and back onto original Medicare.  The issue was [his] difficulty getting into doctors he wanted to see in Tucson. You may recall he lives just north of Tucson … in southern Pinal County.  Tucson is in Pima County. UnitedHealthcare used to let [their clients] go back and forth on their HMO networks.  In 2016, they made Pima one network and Pinal another; so, you have to use their passport program to go back and forth now.  John had major issues doing this initially.  Terri spent many hours helping him figure it out and get the needed MRI, which was delayed by months due to the difficulty.  Since then, Terri has continued to help him and keep him happy.

Today he asked if he could still cancel and go back to original Medicare.  I said yes.  He thought about it and decided to stay where he is primarily because of Terri’s excellent customer service.

Mind you, Terri didn’t just save John as a client.  He lives in … a small town.  His ex, Jane, her friends Dave and Sally Smith, her friend Susan, and Susan’s brother and mother all also live in [the same small town] and are clients.  They are all aware of the mess and are all staying on their plan for next yr.  I also have Susan’s sister and brother-in-law in [another town] and Susan’s sister and brother-in-law in Tucson as clients.  So, a negative outcome could have impacted me not just for John, but for all 11 of them.

Thank you,

Nancy Ann Coon [A Stone-Hill Agent]
Posted in Business Development, Client Services, Medicare Tagged with: , ,