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Agency Q&A: Medicare Mentors
Rich and Pam Lewis are the founders and owners of Medicare Mentors LLC, an agency in Colorado with a focus on serving the Veteran community. In less than 5 years, Medicare Mentors has enrolled over 5,000 clients, with growth set to double by 2022. Medicare Mentors has one of the largest veteran client bases in the US — Rich himself was among the top 5 individual brokers serving Veterans in 2019, and several others on the team were in the top 50 in the western region.
They comprehensively serve and understand Veteran needs, supporting clients not only through Medicare, but also navigating the VA, TriCare, and more. By holistically serving a client base they know intimately well, they deliver better service while creating deep client loyalty.
We’re incredibly excited to partner with Rich and Pam on this growth phase (also big shout out to all the amazing individual brokers they work with!). We sat down with them to hear more about their story and plans for the future.
Tell us about how you got into Medicare.
Pam: I came into Medicare after spending many years in the service industry. I settled on insurance knowing my hours would be more flexible, but tried many insurance lines before landing on Medicare and seeing the unique opportunity to truly be an advocate for my clients.. Once I got a taste of it, I never looked back.
Rich: After I retired from my military I returned to my hometown of Colorado Springs. My first meaningful Medicare experience came when I took my dad to the emergency room and the nurse realized he had both TriCare for Life and an extra Medicare Supplement policy. Our nurse was sharp and asked my father why he had the extra coverage. He thought it covered some things, but in reality it didn’t do anything. Turns out he was paying an unnecessary $300/mo for 11 years, or over $36K in unnecessary premiums. I saw his face turn from pain to anger when he realized the mistake he made.
This experience planted the seed for when I met Pam. When I told her my father’s story, she told me I could make a difference for other people, particularly fellow Veterans. I learned about the baby boomer generation entering the market, and the growing complexity in our Medicare options. My career had been all about service, and this was another way to serve.
Now that we’re building Medicare Mentors as an agency, we get to have the best of both worlds, helping individual consumers but also touching brokers’ lives as we guide them toward finding the same meaning and joy in this work we have.
Thanks for hosting the Spark team in Colorado Springs earlier this summer. It was a lot of fun meeting many of your brokers, and we got to appreciate how deep your community partnerships are, particularly with the Mt. Carmel Veterans Service Center. Could you tell us about some of the clients you’ve been able to serve there?
Pam: I remember a couple who just moved from Alabama coming into Mt Carmel. The man looked agitated and in really bad shape. He previously had a great relationship with his local VA, but was having challenges getting established in the Colorado VA system. I knew he needed immediate help before talking about Medicare options, so I stopped the conversation and got him connected to a PTSD service for Veterans right inside Mt. Carmel.
I ended up enrolling that man a couple weeks later, and a year after that, his wife reached back out to me when she became Medicare eligible. Tragically, the husband recently passed away, and I was one of the first calls the wife made. Words can’t describe how honored I was, and will always be, to walk with my clients through the good and bad times.
We have a plethora of stories like this. Our conversations may start with one issue, but we often uncover a deeper and more important one. At the beginning, middle and end of the day, the most important thing is the relationship.
Rich: A big part of our work involves building partnerships with other organizations like Mt. Carmel. We see ourselves as adding another service to the great work that happens here.
When we first introduce people to the benefits they can have with Medicare, they often think it’s too good to be true. So many people have no idea all the benefits they’re entitled to. It almost feels wrong that as you get older, things get more complicated. We make things as simple as possible, we never charge for our services, and we connect clients to many other resources they may need. We tell our clients they don’t need to have it all figured out because they have a team behind them now. Spark has been an incredible addition to that mix for us, our entire team AND our clients. Our clients really do have a team of people to support them, and they can feel that.
Once we enroll a client, they really do become a client for life. It’s amazing the number of funerals we’ve been invited to for our clients after having built a relationship over many years. It’s a special responsibility, and we feel privileged to be there for our clients.
You’ve had tremendous success serving an important constituency in our country. We’ve seen first hand that you’re not a “normal” agency. What explains your success so far?
Rich: We’ve been blessed with brokers organically coming to join our team. We’ve never put much effort into recruiting, but people have seen what’s possible here and the impact that they can have in the community.
The most important piece has been leading by example. Once you set a compelling vision, people will follow. Beyond that, we’ve built a culture of working as a team. We all understand we can achieve so much more together than trying to compete with each other. You’ll see our brokers stepping in to help each other with tough cases, sharing opportunities, and going after bigger partnerships together.
Pam: Maintaining consistency has been key as we’ve grown. We continue to have regular training and team meetings to reinforce our values and to keep us in a constant state of learning from each other. We also consistently invest in advertising and tools for our brokers so that we continue growing and developing together.
We’re beyond excited about this partnership with Spark. I’d love to hear in your own words what gets you excited about our work together.
Pam: I just love it. I think about all my “areas of opportunities” (AKA areas where I need help), and they are all the places you guys excel. Client engagement has been difficult as we’ve grown. I know every client deserves to be the #1 priority, and you all provide another layer of pampering for our clients which they deserve.
Rich: The mission alignment between our organizations is amazing. Our mission is to serve & educate all who are Medicare eligible, and we couldn’t do that without your concierge service behind us.
There’s a challenge to growing while maintaining commitments to those who you’ve already begun serving. We’ve even considered slowing down growth. The added reinforcement from Spark allows us to feel confident we can effectively serve and grow our client base knowing that they’ll be well taken care of and grow our broker team knowing our brokers are receiving the support, training, and education they need to be effective.
This really clicked as we began seeing the client stories come in. Last Friday, I was out with one of our brokers who had a client with trouble getting an MRI. I told him to create a task in the Spark platform and see what happens. When he logged into the platform a few hours later, it was taken care of, and I got to see his eyes light up. This is a broker who is amazing at engaging people in the community, who now has the added confidence knowing there’s a concierge team behind him taking care of each of his clients. It’s truly Priceless, and we are so grateful! Thank you Spark!
You can find more information about Rich and how to reach him here.
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