From Confusion to Understanding Photography by Diana Schmitt, Accent Portraits by Diana

From Confusion to Understanding

Oct 02, 2019

Compassion & Experience are necessary in the complex Medicare Insurance Industry. We’ve got the couple for you!

Early in my writing career, I had the opportunity to interview many successful entrepreneurs for an OC-based regional business/lifestyle publication. While the scope of the featured businesses was diverse, the owner/operators all shared an unerring passion for their profession and a common belief that “if you love what you do, the money will follow.”

It didn’t take long after meeting Denice and Stephen Merrill for me to discover this energetic, enthusiastic couple were obviously cut from the same entrepreneurial cloth. As specialists in the often confusing Medicare insurance industry, they educate seniors on the ever-changing nuances of Medicare and the myriad of Medicare Insurance plans available.

For the past sixteen years, Denice has been working in the insurance industry, first as an independent agent, and then as an incorporated business owner, as Merrill Insurance Services Inc. entered the market in 2009. Like any other field, there are the requisite hoops to jump through on the way to owning one’s own insurance business, and Denice has leapt through them all. State board exams, licensing, yearly certifications. “Even with all the classes, there is nothing that can beat years and years of experience,” she says. “I continue to learn and that is what keeps my interest”. It is like a puzzle to fit the unique plan for that unique person. This is not something you can easily do on your own without some guidance from a professional.

As an independent agent, broker and business owner, Denice found that there was not just one approach to the process of “guiding people, organization and staying in touch. “Keeping myself open, selfless and available started setting Merrill Insurance Services apart from others in the industry, and I’ve always tried to operate in a way that I would want to be treated in any given market - to never approach anyone as a salesperson.” I like to find what we might have in common. Enjoy people. It’s easy - Today’s seniors are so diverse, active, and great travel stories! Once we help someone, its usually a relationship for life.

It’s also important to Know your product and services inside and out. Don’t try to be the jack of all trades! Lots of agents try to do it all, and end up knowing very little about the products they are recommending. This leaves the client vulnerable - typically in the area of prescriptions.

Clients began flooding in. In the ensuing years, Denice and her husband Stephen (who joined the agency in 2012 have focused their efforts to exclusively supporting the senior market. “We have both found incredible contentment and passion in our day to day lives and helping seniors. Education and taking the time to explain the details is what makes us different.” We always look at what makes the best financial sense for the client, even if it means suggesting they hold off on activating their Medicare and not enroll with us for a period of time.... (sometimes staying with an employer plan can be the most prudent).

Even with all the classes, there is nothing that can beat years and years of experience. I continue to learn and that is what keeps my interest.

Toward that end, Denice is a regular editorial contributor to Sorbet - a SoCal Senior publication and is the sole presenter at a series of educational seminars on Medicare each month at Mission Hospital. Standing in the spotlight is usually outside her comfort zone and she found the idea of speaking to a large group unnerving. But she talks to the audience like she does to each and every one of her clients: as individuals, with families, and history, and legitimate concerns about their future. “By offering or showing all options, we can help everyone that is 65 and over. There is just not a one plan that fits all.” At these seminars, Denice explains Medicare Basics and the Full Benefits of Medicare in a side-by-side comparison model and finds that “everyone benefits because it is so interactive and lots of questions get asked.”

Questions like “What does Medicare A or B Cost?” and “Do I have to activate Medicare when I turn age 65?” Or Questions like “How will MY personal prescriptions be covered?” This is what might make one plan a better fit for you than another!,” she says. “Honestly, I can simplify and help you to understand your options of a Medi-Gap Supplemental policy which is a PPO Style of coverage or a Medicare Advantage HMO style of plan and they all offer amazing coverages, but its the everyday or every month usages of medications that can really break the bank!” I want to protect people and have the skills to help them. We do reviews every year!

Being self-employed has given Denice the opportunity to grow without limitations. “My agency now trains other agents and we are helping them replicate what has worked so well for us.”

My success has come from being honest and just being human and down to earth. I’ve always felt blessed to have found this business, actually out of a time in my life that was difficult financially.

Staying true to her core values has helped everything fall gracefully into place, one hour at a time. “I truly enjoy people and hearing their stories,” says Denice, and these stories are what make her days. “Today, many businesses are so hands-off, so computerized. You’re told to call an 800# and then possibly get disconnected. I am told daily that clients appreciate when they call me, I actually answer the phone: it’s unheard of!” And we are still happy to meet with folks face to face rather than calling someone they’ve never met or may never talk to again. Denice’s husband, Stephen, is a product of the theory too. He’s the one that has always loved public speaking and has taken to this very naturally once you understand your products inside and out, then its a matter of simplifying it to help others understand it too. The personal aspect of still making house calls and sitting across from someone at their kitchen table is not a lost concept.

“When you love what you do, it doesn’t seem like work,” says Denice. “My success has come from being honest and just being human and down to earth. I’ve always felt blessed to have found this business, actually out of a time in my life that was difficult financially. It took a few years and finding my stride before I was able to convince my husband to leave his engineering and sales background to join the company. Now the only thing he can say is that he wishes he’d done it sooner. We tend to draw people in that we can relate to, and Stephen found his success with folks who share similar interests like being outdoors, golfing, fishing, etc. We try and keep it fun. We love our clients and hope that is what comes through.”

Here is some Helpful Information.

WHAT CAN YOU DO NOW - OCT 15TH - DEC 7TH (Annual Election Period)?

You are able to switch from one Medicare Advantage Plan to another or from one Part D drug plan to another. The new policy will take effect on Jan 1 2020.

You are able to apply for a Supplemental policy (PPO Style) and Part D prescription plan. The new policy will take effect on Jan 1 2020.

If you are coming off of an employer plan and age 65+, you can enroll with either solution and the start date will be the first day you’ve chosen to come off the employer plan.

If you already have a Supplemental plan, Example like a “Plan F” - please do not fear that your plan is going away!

The Plan F isn’t going away, it is simply being discontinued to be offered for folks that are turning age 65 as of Jan 1, 2020 and after. If you currently have the plan in place or are already age 65 before Jan 1, 2020, it will still be offered to you. You will not lose your plan if you are currently on Plan F.

MEDICARE INSURANCE IS COMPLICATED, we can SIMPLIFY IT FOR YOU ~

There are multiple ways of getting informed about Medicare and the Plans available to you - it is unique not only by state, but also by county! The Plans Do Change each year. Find an Advocate which can be a Medicare Insurance Broker that can show you side x side comparisons so you can make the best decision as it pertains to YOUR prescriptions, and keeping YOUR doctors, and keeping YOUR costs the lowest for the up coming year.

A Broker offers all the same exact plans being offered by the insurance companies, and at the same exact costs if you had chosen on your own and enrolled over the phone (possibly an 800# with a sales person you’ll never talk to again and that possibly doesn’t even live in your state), so consider using a Specialist in their field….a local, in your town, Agent/Broker Advocate to help you understand the overwhelming and sometimes confusing Medicare Options - Remember this is a no cost service available to you.

If you’d like to contact us directly, please do

Or if you prefer a group setting please stop in at one of these locations and talk to one of us or our agents - we are here to serve you.


TEAR OUT THIS PAGE TO REFERENCE UPCOMING MEDICARE MEETINGS


DJS 7588 65 SAN JUAN CAPISTRANO - RSVP Denice
Oct 5th 9:00a (Saturday)
Marie Callendar
31791 Del Obispo St
San Juan Capistrano 92675

Oct 12th 9:00a (Saturday) - RSVP Denice
Marie Callendar
31791 Del Obispo St
San Juan Capistrano 92675

SAN CLEMENTE
Oct 16th 10:30a (Wednesday)
Nov 6th 10:30 (Wednesday)
Nov 21st 1:00p (Thursday)
San Clemente Senior Center
117 Avenida Victoria
San Clemente 92672

MISSION VIEJO
Oct 17th 6:00p (Thursday)
Mission Hospital Conf Ctr
26726 Crown Valley Pkwy
Mission Viejo 92691
Free Validation for Parking

MISSION VIEJO
Oct 24th 6:00p (Thursday)
Mission Hospital Conf Ctr
26726 Crown Valley Pkwy
Mission Viejo 92691
Free Validation for Parking

MISSION VIEJO
Oct 30th 6:00p (Wednesday)
Mission Hospital Conf Ctr
26726 Crown Valley Pkwy
Mission Viejo 92691
Free Validation for Parking

LAGUNA NIGUEL
WALMART SHOPPERS!
Open Table to help you with Medicare Options
Walmart Oct 15th - Dec 7th
Tuesdays - Fridays 8:00a - 1:00p
27470 Alicia Parkway
Laguna Niguel, CA 92677


Connect with Denice directly by calling (949) 584-2646. You can also connect with Stephen Merrill by calling (949) 584-2634.
Denice CA LIC # 0D99790
Stephens CA LIC # 0E31931


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