Are you wondering whether becoming a Medicare insurance agent is a financially rewarding career path? Spoiler alert, it is.
Thanks to the march of Medicare Advantage enrollment, 2023 is likely to be another prosperous year for insurance agents. Medicare Advantage enrollment has increased from 19% to 48% between 2011 and 2023. By 2023, enrollment numbers are likely to reach 61%.
Thanks to this, Medicare insurance agents can expect to see an expanding market over the next decade. Unlike most jobs, you aren’t capped on how much you can make selling Medicare. If you put in the legwork, you can grow your income at a fairly rapid rate.
However, not all agents meet with success. In fact, many fall by the wayside within their first year. The reason? Lack of sales.
In this guide, we take a look at how much Medicare insurance agents make and how quickly you can expect to increase your earnings. We also get into a few impactful tips for ramping up those sales numbers as a new (or seasoned) agent.
Keep reading for a full breakdown of how much agents make selling Medicare.
How Medicare Agents Earn
Before we get into salary numbers, let’s first outline the different ways agents earn when selling Medicare.
Medicare insurance agents earn in three ways, flat dollar amounts on applications, percentages of premiums sold, and renewal commissions.
Agents earn these streams of income directly from the insurance carrier. Unlike other types of insurance, Medicare Advantage and Prescription Drug Plan products have maximum commission amounts, which are regulated by the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS).
Flat Dollar Amount Per Application
Most insurance agents that sell products like final expense insurance, annuities, or life insurance earn a percentage-based commission on initial premium sales.
This is where Medicare is different. Depending on what plans you’re selling, you might instead earn a flat dollar amount on the premium sold.
This structure applies to Medicare Advantage and Part D plans.
Percentage of the Premium Sold
Agents who sell Medicare Supplements earn a percentage on the premiums for each product they sell, instead of a flat dollar amount.
Medicare Supplement insurance isn’t subject to the same commission caps as Medicare Advantage and Part D plans. Instead, commissions vary according to carriers and individual contracts.
Besides earning flat rates and initial commissions, Medicare insurance agents also earn renewal commissions each year that clients stay enrolled in their initial plan. If a client switches to a similar plan, you can still earn renewal commissions.
Certain carriers pay lifetime renewal commissions. Others only pay renewal commissions for the first six years.
How Much Independent Medicare Insurance Agents Earn
According to ZipRecruiter, the average salary for Medicare insurance agents is $52,680 per year. However, averages can be misleading, so let’s take a deeper look at the earnings data.
The majority of Medicare salaries range between $38,500 and $60,000. The lowest 3% of agents earn around $22,000 per year, and those in the 90th percentile earn over $78,000.
Keep in mind that these estimates are exactly that—estimates. For instance, another salary estimate site puts the average Medicare agent salary in the US at $80,000, with earners in the lower percentile bringing in $57,451 at minimum.
One of the reasons for this is that exact earning levels can vary widely based on experience, location, and skill level. Another reason is that the data used for salary estimates isn’t always segmented or detailed enough.
For instance, most earnings estimates you find on large salary sites such as ZipRecruiter and PayScale don’t differentiate between captive and independent agents.
Whether you are a captive agent or an independent agent can have a huge impact on your earning level.
The Difference Between Captive and Independent Medicare Insurance Agents
If you aren’t aware of the difference between captive and independent agents, here’s a brief summary.
Captive agents work directly for carriers or one agency. They are only allowed to sell the carrier’s or agency’s products, and can’t contract with any other carriers or agencies. Along with commission on sales, captive agents may also earn a base salary or retainer and receive some employee benefits.
Independent agents work for themselves and earn solely from commissions. At first glance, it might sound like captive agents have a better deal, as they aren’t solely reliant on commission earnings.
But this is not the case. Captive agents tend to earn far less than independent agents. Firstly, their commission levels are substantially lower.
Captive agents are also restricted by the products they can sell. Instead of being able to cherry-pick the most advantageous solutions for their clients, they’re forced to only recommend their carrier’s products.
This can be very limiting for agents, and prevent them from wowing clients.
Besides earning lower commissions, captive agents can also lose their renewal commissions if they leave the carrier. This can have long-term effects on earnings. Instead of having a passive stream of income, they’ll have to start building up their renewals from scratch.
Why Experienced Agents Earn More
Besides looking at what Medicare insurance agents earn on average, you might also be curious to know how much you can expect to earn in your first year selling Medicare.
According to survey results, the majority of Medicare agents earned under $50,000 in their first year. However, a small minority earned over $150,000.
Earnings also tend to increase over time. Over 18% of agents surveyed reported earning more than $200,000 a year after 5 or more years of selling Medicare.
One of the reasons why Medicare agents earn more over time is experience. The longer you spend selling Medicare, the more you’ll be able to refine your selling techniques and marketing strategies.
Over time, you’ll also be able to generate more referral leads.
Another reason why you can look forward to increased earnings over time is that you’ll be able to build up a stream of renewal commissions.
The Job Outlook for Medicare Insurance Sales Agents
If you’re considering a career change, it’s always a good idea to look at the job outlook.
According to the BLS, the job market for insurance sales agents is predicted to grow by 6% between 2021 and 2031. This is roughly as fast as the average for all occupations.
The Talent Gap
The insurance industry as a whole is also facing an imminent talent shortage. It is one of the most “aged” industries. The majority of insurance agents are middle-aged or older, and the ones who retire aren’t being replaced by younger counterparts quickly enough.
Thanks to this, 39% of insurance agencies report that screening candidates with strong potential is extremely challenging.
How to Become a Medicare Insurance Agent
If you’re thinking of making a career change and selling Medicare, you might be wondering what the educational requirements are.
One of the perks of selling insurance is that you don’t need a degree. In fact, insurance sales is one of the best-paying career paths that doesn’t require you to go to university.
If you want to embark on a career in Medicare insurance, all you need is a high school diploma to begin.
You will also need to get a health insurance license in the state you reside. This is known as your resident state health insurance producer license.
Before you sit your licensing exam, you will need to complete a set amount of fundamental training. This pre-license training will teach you how health insurance policies work and include information on:
- Healthcare laws
- Networks such as HMO, Fee-for-Service, and PPO
- Claims adjudication
- Professional ethics and compliance
Prelicense training varies by state, but it usually involves around 52 hours of coursework.
Because selling Medicare requires specific knowledge of Medicare products, you will also need to complete annual AHIP Medicare training.
Tips to Maximize Your Earnings as Medicare Insurance Agent
One of the big perks of choosing a career in Medicare insurance is that there isn’t a hard cap on your potential salary. The harder you work, the more you refine your approaches, and the more you invest in yourself and your business, the more money you will make.
Here are a few important tips for maximizing your income as a Medicare insurance agent.
Invest in Comprehensive Training
One of the most impactful things Medicare insurance agents can do to increase their earning power is to invest in comprehensive training.
Prelicense training will teach you the basics of how health insurance works, and AHIP training will equip you with knowledge of individual Medicare plans. But neither of these will teach you how to sell.
In short, the mandatory training isn’t enough.
To really excel at selling Medicare (or any other type of insurance) you need to know how to sell. For most people, selling and marketing don’t come naturally. Instead, they are learned skills.
The good news is that if you apply yourself and invest in the right training, you can supercharge your sales numbers in a short space of time.
Want to know the kicker?
Unfortunately, comprehensive, accessible insurance agent training can be hard to find. A lot of training programs require agents to sign up with a specific upline or achieve certain production numbers.
This is just as counterintuitive as it sounds. Instead of getting access to the strategies and techniques you need right out the gate, you’re left to claw your way to a sales threshold first.
Here at InsuranceSales101, we don’t work like that. We believe that powerful training should be available to any agent. No matter their experience or sales numbers.
We offer in-depth Medicare, life insurance, final expense, and annuity insurance training that covers everything you need to become a top-performing agent. All of our training is available on demand. Instead of having to take time out of your schedule and travel to in-person training sessions, you can work through your training at your own pace from the comfort of your own home.
At the same time, our training includes access to free and discounted tools and resources, as well as mentorship. Survey results show that over 70% of young agents reported having a mentor in 2020.
We also pride ourselves on offering transparent, fair pricing. We will never nickel and dime you, try to lock you into ongoing contracts, or demand commission cuts.
If you want to sell more than one type of insurance, we’d recommend taking advantage of our advisor elite training bundle.
Alternatively, you can select one of our individual courses on either Medicare, annuities, final expense, or life insurance.
Don’t Sign Away Your Renewal Commissions
Another top tip for increasing your earnings year over year is to hold on tight to your renewal commissions. In the beginning, captive agent positions can sound attractive. But, if they strip you of renewal commission should you leave the carrier, this will rob you of a long-term stream of passive income.
Develop True Compassion for Your Clients
Another critical tip if you want to become a top-earning Medicare insurance agent is to cultivate true compassion for your clients. If you really care about your clients and place their needs above your own, this will show.
Clients will pick up on this, both from your manner and from the products you recommend. Recommending products that don’t suit your clients simply because they come with a better commission is a recipe for failure.
Instead, listen carefully to your prospects so you can find the perfect solutions for them and earn their trust.
Comprehensive Medicare Insurance Agent Training Is the Key to Success
As you can see, Medicare insurance agents can earn a decent income, even in their first year after selling Medicare. However, if you invest in the right training, you can supercharge your sales numbers and commission levels to far beyond average.
Are you in need of comprehensive Medicare agent training? We can help.
InsuranceSales101 is dedicated to providing new and seasoned agents with the training they need to succeed, build their businesses, and ramp up sales numbers.
Our training includes high-performing sales and marketing techniques, as well as one-on-one training sessions and discounts on essential tools and services for running your business.
Wave low sales goodbye and check out our Medicare insurance agent training course.