Time’s Running Out, Health Pirates, and Last Chance to Make Binder Payments

Time’s running out for a February 1, 2024, effective date! Open Enrollment for 2024 closes at midnight on January 15th.

Everyone has that one friend or relative who waits until the last minute. Tell them to call us at (229) 596-1002 to sign up and have coverage beginning February 1st. We promise not to call them a “procrastinator.” 
Over 50 of our clients have been victimized by marketing schemes to steal their health accounts. We are working hard to come up with some recourse and protect you from surprises that leave you with high deductibles or prevent you from seeing your favorite doctor. 
If you suspect that you were a victim or know of anyone who was a victim, we may be able to help.  We promise to call these bad agents “Pirates.” Seriously, this is no joke. It is a national problem. 
To bind your health plan, you need to make the first payment. Please don’t assume your automatic payments will continue to the next year. Give us a call or log onto your member portal to verify. Remember the old Russian proverb, “Doveryay, noh proveryay,” which translates in English to “Trust but verify.”
If you haven’t made your first payment, you need to do it ASAP. Below are the extensions and payment phone numbers we have received so far:
Ambetter – Extended to January 31
Online payment link 1-877-687-1180

AetnaExtended to January 30
Online payment link 1-844-365-7373

Alliant(SoloCare) – Extended to January 31
Website (866) 403-2785

MolinaExtended to January 31
Online payment link FL: 800-375-7421

Oscar – Please call Oscar for details
Online payment instructions1-855-672-2755

Optima – (Sentara)Extended to January 12
Online payment options 1-888-645-4306
Finally, for those of you who moved from Ambetter to Aetna for 2024, you will find things a little different. Ambetter is an “Open Access” HMO, which means you can go to any doctor without a referral so long as they are in the Ambetter network.
Aetna is a true HMO. They will randomly assign you a primary care doctor. If you want to see a doctor, you must ensure your doctor is listed as your primary care doctor. All specialist visits require a referral from your primary care doctor, or you may not be seen, and your new Aetna insurance plan may not cover your bills. The exception is that all emergencies are treated as “in-network.” To have your favorite doctor listed as your primary care doctor, call Aetna customer service. The number is on the back of your new card.

Thank you again for helping us to make this Open Enrollment season a success. We couldn’t do it without you and your referrals. Whenever we hear a story about how your health insurance made a difference in your lives, we know this craziness is worth it.

What’s New for Health Insurance Open Enrollment 2024

By Kirk Lyman-Barner, President

Client First Insurance Solutions

Americus and Albany

On the 10th Anniversary of the Marketplace, I am a bit nostalgic for the days when we had little
competition from agents in the individual health insurance market. Without going into the
politics of why that was, competition is very strong for agents offering
Marketplace/Obamacare plans. Unfortunately, much of that competition is a scam that
harms people.

There are dishonest agents from outside of our community who are using websites and call
centers to trick people into changing their health plans. They prey on both seniors on
Medicare and the under 65 Marketplace insured. So far, CMS/Medicare, the Insurance
Commissioners and local law enforcement agencies have been ineffective at stopping these

Recently, I had a client call me from the Emergency Room at Phoebe Sumter Hospital who was
sick and sick to find out that he was a victim of the scam. He accepted a call from someone
claiming to be from the Marketplace who suggested he should be moved from his Silver plan
that we sold him to a $0 premium Bronze plan. He is now stuck with the full hospital bill
because he was given an $8,000 deductible.

Under the current Marketplace software, all a dishonest agent needs to steal your account is
your name, state and your birthday.

In response to this epidemic of crime, the Marketplace is now going to require the insured to
complete a consent agreement. So be prepared to have this extra step this year. It remains to
be seen if law enforcement and the insurance regulators will be able to use these consent
forms to stop the bad agents. It feels a little bit like the time one guy threatened to blow up a
plane with a bomb in his shoe, and the response was that now everyone has to take their shoes
off before we can get on a plane.

You can be your own best defense against being a victim of this insurance scam by working
directly with a local agent who keeps up on all the offerings and products available in your
community. The insurance companies, the Marketplace and Medicare will never call you
about switching plans. Beware of calls offering gift card incentives. Never give out your
personal information, such as your birthday or social security unless you know for certain who
you are working with.

Other interesting notes for 2024:

For seniors, Open Enrollment is from October 15th-December 7th.

For individuals and families, Open Enrollment is November 1st-January 15th, with the last day
to enroll for a plan with a January 1 effective date being December 15th.

Like all other states, Georgia is reviewing 2.8 million people insured through Medicaid to make
sure they still qualify. There was a slowdown in the annual reviews during Covid and many
Georigians are going to lose their coverage. For those that do, they will receive a Special
Enrollment outside of the annual Open Enrollment. Talk to an insurance agent or call the
Marketplace if you find yourself in that situation.
Georgia attempted to launch a new state-run website to replace Healthcare.gov, but that was
delayed by the Federal Government until next year.

Georgia also opened up their expanded Medicaid on July 1st. Studies indicate that about
400,000 Georgians are eligible to apply. The requirements are so strict that estimates are that
only 50,000 to 90,000 will be eligible. Only 265 people were actually enrolled during the first

Last year we saw a decline in customer service with the carriers offering insurance through the
Marketplace. This was in part due to an increase in customers. The Friday company was
placed into receivership and that book of business was transferred to other carriers who were
caught without enough staff to handle the new customers.

Locally, it is important to know that Ambetter clients can use the following pharmacies:
Walgreens, Walmart, Food Lion, The Clinic, The Plains Drug Store and Doctors Pharmacy.

Since CVS bought Aetna, they dropped their contract with Ambetter but they do accept the
Aetna Marketplace plans now that they have returned to Southwest Georgia.

Now that the pandemic is over, the government is no longer offering free Covid shots. Those
that have insurance will still receive $0 copay for Covid and Covid booster shots. Also the
Health Department has free shots. Those without insurance can expect to pay $120-$130 and
more for the shots.

I’d like to close with a personal appeal to sign up and take advantage of your free annual
physical, and wellness screenings. In August, I lost my father to cancer. It began as prostate
cancer and it spread undetected. As Count Rugan famously said in the movie The Princes
Bride, “If you haven’t got your health, then you haven’t got anything.” I miss my Dad. Much of
your health is in your control. Get covered and use your plan’s benefits.

Client First Insurance Solutions Celebrates 20 Years of Delivering Exceptional Service to Clients

Americus, Georgia – Client First Insurance Solutions is pleased to announce its twentieth anniversary in the insurance industry. Since its establishment in 2003, Client First Insurance Solutions has been dedicated to delivering top-notch insurance services that prioritize clients’ needs.

Over the past two decades, Client First Insurance Solutions has grown into a leading insurance agency, serving clients across Georgia with clients on the East Coast from New York to Florida. The company has established a reputation for its commitment to excellence, customer satisfaction, and innovative insurance solutions. In 2020, Client First Insurance restructured to become an employee-owned insurance agency with every employee an owner or on the path to ownership.

“It has been amazing to watch and be a part of the growth Client First has experienced — especially in the last two years. I’m thankful for the quality of customer care that’s a part of this business’ 20-year history, and I’m also thankful for the opportunity to help cultivate it every day,” said Tamma Phillips, one of the partners of Client First Insurance Solutions.

“Reaching our twentieth anniversary is a significant milestone for our team, and we’re proud of the progress we’ve made over the years,” said Kirk Lyman-Barner, the Founder and President of Client First Insurance Solutions. “Our success is a testament to our hard work, dedication, and, most importantly, our commitment to putting our clients’ needs first.”

As Client First Insurance Solutions marks this significant milestone, the company looks forward to continuing to serve its clients with the same level of passion, commitment, and expertise that has defined its operations for the past two decades.

Jody Wade joined CFIS in February 2021, bringing long-standing community ties and a dedication to expanding the agency’s commercial property and casualty book of business. “I have enjoyed the opportunity to not only grow our presence in this market, but also to help start-up businesses find the coverage they need at a value that fits their business plan.”

About Client First Insurance Solutions

Client First Insurance Solutions is a leading insurance agency located in Americus, Georgia. The company specializes in providing a wide range of insurance solutions, including auto, home, business, life and health insurance, with access to hundreds of carriers. The agency’s commitment to providing exceptional service to clients has made it a preferred insurance provider for many individuals and businesses in Georgia.

Client First is a member of the Professional Insurance Agency – Southern Alliance, the Iroquois Group Network of Independent Insurance Agencies and a partner of the United States Worker Cooperatives. The agency is an Elite Plus Circle of Champions member as awarded by Healthcare.gov and Kirk is frequently interviewed by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution about issues related to health insurance.

New Referral Program – We’re giving away restaurant gift cards when you refer your friends to our agency.

We are excited to invite you to our referral program!

There are perks to referring others to our agency and we don’t want you to miss out on this opportunity. As part of our new program, we are giving away local restaurant gift cards to clients who refer their friends.

Be sure your referral identifies you as the person who referred them to us.

This is our way to thank you!

To qualify, the person you referred needs to get a quote.
No purchase is required.
The quote can be from any of these product lines: business, life, health, home, and auto insurance.

Limit: one gift card per quarter.

Top Five Life Insurance Myths!

Don’t let these five misconceptions delay you from protecting your loved ones with life insurance.

H2: More people are preparing for the unexpected
The untimely death of a loved one once seemed like a remote possibility. But the pandemic has brought a new awareness of how vulnerable life can be. Numbers from LIMRA, a life insurance knowledgebase, tell the story:

● Nearly one-third of consumers surveyed (31%) say COVID-19 has made them more likely to purchase life insurance within the next 12 months

You only need to type “funerals” into the search field at GoFundMe to see endless tales of the heartbreaking loss of a loved one, followed by financial crisis for their family. The truth is, life can be breathtakingly uncertain. But the financial impact of a loss can be avoided with life insurance.

We’ve partnered with Ethos to help you find the right policy for your needs, with zero hassle. Get your no-obligation quote in seconds.

The bottom line: Millions of Americans lack critical life insurance. But today, getting coverage is simple with Ethos.

H2: Do these thoughts sound familiar?
Here are five of the most common reasons people put off getting life insurance—and why you should rethink them.
1. I can’t afford it. Research finds people wildly overestimate the cost of term life insurance. Millennials especially overestimate by 5–10x! In fact, a healthy 35-year-old non-smoker can buy a 10-year, $1,000,000 term life policy for about $65 per month through Ethos. That’s less than the cost of many auto and home insurance policies. And of the three—car, house or family—which is more important?
2. My life insurance coverage through work is enough. Workplace coverage is typically 1x salary. That’s not enough to help a grieving family maintain their way of life and fund long-term goals like college tuition. Also, if you leave a job, you can’t always take your life insurance with you.
3. I don’t want to think about it. An Ethos application takes most people less than 10 minutes to finish. There’s no time like the present to spend a few minutes getting the protection your family needs. In the time it takes you to finish your morning coffee, you could be approved for coverage.

● The longer you wait, the more expensive life insurance gets. Healthy, younger adults can get the most coverage: up to $2M in term life through Ethos.
● Circumstances can change and future insurability is not a given. Once you get coverage, you’ll never lose it due to health changes.

4. I don’t need it. Some people believe they’ve got sufficient assets to protect their family if the worst happened. In other words, they plan to “self-insure.” It sounds good—but it may be unrealistic. Consider:

● Forty-two percent of Americans would face financial hardship within six months if the primary wage-earner were to die unexpectedly, according to LIMRA.
● A middle-class child born in 2015 will cost nearly $300,000 to raise to adulthood. That’s not counting the cost of college; currently about $80,000 per year for an Ivy League education.
● Did you know that life insurance policies can offer benefits even while you’re living? For example, if you get a policy with a standard terminal illness rider, you could access a portion of the policy’s death benefit if you become terminally ill.

The truth is, you can choose a policy with much more coverage than you can provide on your own, for an affordable rate.

5. The process is too complicated. This used to be the case. When you wanted life insurance, you had to schedule a medical exam, then wait weeks or months for approval from a carrier. But the Ethos process is built for the way people do business in the 21st century, with no need for blood draws or other intrusive tests. Ethos’ technology enables us to approve about 95% of people aged 20–85 in as little as 10 minutes—with just a few health and lifestyle questions.

H2: Take action to protect your loved ones
If you’re ready to make a plan for life insurance, start by getting a quick quote from our friends at Ethos.

Julissa Gutierrez presented the SGTC Foundation Client First Insurance Solutions CDL scholarship

Repost from: South Georgia Technical College

The South Georgia Technical College Foundation presented Commercial Truck Driving student, Julissa Gutierrez of Oglethorpe, with a $500 Client First Insurance Solutions scholarship recently.  Jody Wade from Client First Insurance Solutions was on hand to make the presentation.

   Client First Insurance Solutions funded five Commercial Truck Driving Scholarships at South Georgia Technical College.  Gutierrez was the second scholarship recipient.  Richard T. Simpson of Talbotten, GA was the initial recipient. The scholarships are being awarded to South Georgia Technical College Commercial Truck Driving students who aspire to become owner/operators.

   “We are very appreciative of Client First Insurance Solutions for their willingness to partner with South Georgia Technical College through their sponsorship of these scholarships for this high demand career field,” said SGTC President Dr. John Watford.

   Jody Wade of Client First Solutions thanked Dr. Watford and SGTC Vice President of Institutional Advancement and SGTC Foundation Executive Director Su Ann Bird for the opportunity. “We are very pleased to partner with South Georgia Technical College for these CDL scholarships. We realize truck drivers are essential workers and they are responsible for delivering goods to our communities.  This is our way of showing appreciation to those individuals who are choosing to enter this career field,” said Wade.

   The primary focus of Client First Insurance Solutions is to meet the needs of its valued clients and prepare insurance solutions for the things that matter most.  They provide auto, home, commercial, life insurance and more.  They service clients in Georgia, Virginia, West Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Florida.

   Dr. Watford shared that “statistics show there is a current shortage of truck drivers and this is predicted to increase over the next few years. Almost every job ad you see is advertising for certified drivers.  South Georgia Technical College is striving to meet that demand by expanding its Commercial Truck Driving training program and these scholarships are a tremendous help.”

   Commercial Truck Driving is one of the Governor’s High Demand Career fields that qualifies for additional funding through the Hope Career Grant program.  Qualified residents receive up to $1000 toward tuition for enrolling in the CDL program.

   The Commercial Truck Driving program at South Georgia Technical College is an eight-week program and can be completed in day or evening classes.  The curriculum includes in-class work, skills-field training, and on-the-road experience.  The median annual wage for heavy and tractor-trailer truck drivers was $47,130 in May 2020.

   South Georgia Technical College is currently registering students for Fall Semester.  Fall semester begins August 18th.  To enroll in the CDL classes, contact the admissions office at 229-931-2394 in Americus or 229-271-4040 in Cordele.  For more information about the CDL program contact Robert Cook at rcook@southgatech.edu or visit the SGTC website at www.southgatech.edu.

   South Georgia Tech offers over 200 associate degree, diploma or short-term certificate of credit programs of study.  Now is a great time to get the training needed to update or start a new career!

Photo:  Shown above (l to r) are South Georgia Technical College President Dr. John Watford with SGTC CDL instructor Ken Hair,  scholarship recipient Julissa Gutierrez with Client First Insurance’s Jody Wade making the presentation.  Also shown is SGTC CDL Instructor Ken Coptsias.

Client First Insurance Solutions Acquires Newman Agency

Left to right: Kirk Lyman-Barner, John Newman, Jody Wade.

On April 1st, 2022, Client First Insurance Solutions purchased the assets belonging to the Newman Agency, another local insurance agency founded by Mr. John Newman.

Mr. Newman, who has decided to retire, is working closely with the Client First team to ensure a smooth transition, and had this to say to his former clients:

“We have always strived to give the best customer service to our insureds and I am confident that Kirk and his staff at Client First Insurance will be able to maintain that same high level that you have come to expect. I will miss you all and wish the very best for you.”

Any insurance policies written and maintained by Mr. Newman will continue to exist and will not be modified; the only change for customers will be that Client First will process payments, endorsements, and any other policy changes instead of Mr. Newman.

Client First Insurance is located on Lamar street next to Sweet Georgia Baking and is open from 9:00 am to 4:30 pm. Questions about Life, Health, Home, Auto, and Business insurance needs may be directed to Client First at (229) 596-1002. 

Client First Insurance Solutions Establishes CDL Scholarships At South Georgia Technical College

Client First Insurance Solutions invested in Americus recently when it presented the South Georgia Technical College Foundation with a $2500 check to establish five Commercial Truck Driving scholarships for the 2021 – 2022 academic year. The scholarships will be awarded to South Georgia Technical College Commercial Truck Driving students who aspire to become owner/operators.

Commercial truck drivers are in great demand and this demand is expected to increase over the next few years. Client First insures many commercial truck drivers and is proud to fund this scholarship to encourage more students to take advantage of this growth industry.  

“We are very pleased to partner with South Georgia Technical College for these CDL scholarships,” said Kirk Lyman-Barner, CEO of Client First Insurance.  “Truck drivers are essential workers and they are delivering goods for our communities.  We would like to show our appreciation to those individuals who are choosing to enter this career field.”

Finding the best commercial truck policy – most coverage, lowest premium – can be a challenge, but Client First Insurance has been doing it for years and is the go-to agency for commercial drivers. Our currently insured drivers continue to refer other drivers to us because we are trustworthy, honest, and really do put our clients first. 

For a quote or more information, give us a call. We know the territory, our drivers know and trust us, and we’ll do our best for you, guaranteed.

Read the Press Release from South Georgia Technical College here.

Health Insurance: COVID-19 Special Enrollment

Would you like a little good news? A Special Enrollment Period (SEP) for Marketplace Health Insurance has been announced for the period of February 15 – May 15th, due to the COVID19 pandemic. This special enrollment period is designed to help families and individuals get the health coverage they need during the pandemic because no one should be worried about whether or not they can get insurance coverage during a global health crisis. 

Marketplace Health Insurance is usually only available for forty-five days each year. Even in a “normal” year, it can be tough to align your insurance needs with that one month. But during a pandemic, it’s even more important to make sure you and your family can get the coverage you need. Fortunately, this Special Enrollment Period extends your ability to gain affordable health insurance for three months! You can do a lot in three months!

Client First Insurance Solutions is well-known in our community for being accessible, knowledgeable, and helpful when you need assistance getting your health insurance questions answered. If you’re not sure what your current situation is or if you need to change your current plan, or if you know you need to get health insurance quickly, give us a call (229)-596-1002) or stop by our office at 132 W. Lamar Street in Americus, Georgia. We’ll spend time with you to get the best coverage at the most affordable rates. As always, we’re here to help.

Citing uncertainty, Blue Cross seeks big rate increases in Georgia

In a blow to consumers insured on the state’s Obamacare exchange plan, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Georgia has proposed to raise rates an average of 40.6 percent in 2018.

Blue Cross said that if policy in Washington weakens the exchange, it may even pull out of the Georgia Obamacare market.

The insurance company is the only one left that insures residents in every county in the state under the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare. Three other insurance companies have signaled they will continue offering plans in parts of the state. But they, too, have proposed rate increases: averaging 12.4 percent for Ambetter, 18.6 percent percent for Alliant and 25 percent for Kaiser. Humana is staying in the small-group market, but it announced earlier this year that it would drop out of the individual market.Read more