Hello. My name is Shannon Ming and I have been a licensed insurance agent since 2013. I started out selling Health Insurance, then expanded to Property and Casualty, hated it, and returned to health insurance. I really missed helping people with such an important product that can have such a profound impact in their lives. Through these changes in my career, I learned what I do, and don’t like. I also learned that my husband has the patience of JOB.
If I had not taken the path above, to leave health insurance and then go into something I did not
enjoy, I wouldn’t have realized that my passion has always been educating and protecting people. I just needed to find the right niche.
About a year and a half ago, I became a Licensed Certified Medicare Insurance Agent and began focusing on health insurance benefits for seniors. I started out selling Medicare and ancillary products like hospital indemnity, vision, and dental insurance over the phone in several states. I then launched Senior Benefits Advisors to focus on educating and protecting seniors right here in my own community. But, I promise this is not going to be a boring story about insurance! This is a story about personal growth, friendship, and…..a cat. Really. A cat!
I don’t think it is a mistake that the word assumption starts with the word ASS. Seriously, you don’t know what you don’t know. Fate, and a cat, has taught me important lessons. It has brought me to a specific niche in my business, and to getting to know my neighbor, my new friend. A friend who has changed me, and the course of my life. She doesn’t even know that yet.
About 6 years ago, a family moved in right next door to us. When I would drive by their house, I would wave to the lady who lived there. She did not wave back. In fact, she would look right at me, turn around, and walk into her open garage. I kept waving anyway. For a while. One time I distinctly remember waving and thinking she may have smiled, but then she put her hand to her mouth, turned, and walked away. It was at that point that I decided my neighbor was not a friendly person. I quit waving.
Somewhere around May of 2019, a very friendly tuxedo male kitten, we guessed to be around six months old, started showing up. He came over every single day. By the summer of 2020, he was here from about 6 in the morning until right after we fed him dinner. We have a glider outside that sits right in the sun. Rocky would sun himself there all day. I would go out and spend time with him every single day, because I work from home. It became a welcomed routine.
At first, we didn’t know who he belonged to. My husband learned that he belonged to the neighbor, the unfriendly one, about 3 months after he started coming over. My husband named him Rocky, which I thought was funny because he was not neutered, and I have a warped sense of humor! Before we knew who he belonged to, we had bought him his own bowl and his own food. We even bought a little bed for him, and when the weather was bad, he would come in until the weather cleared.
Rocky would show up early in the morning, then take off right after we fed him “kitty crack.” (the canned cat food he really liked.) He had the dry food and water during the day.
I remember the last day we saw “Rocky.” It was a Sunday. September 27th, 2020, to be exact. He was over earlier lying in the sun. We would feed our dogs, our son’s cat who we are watching for 2 weeks (it’s been 13 months now) and Rocky, at 5:00 pm every day. As usual, he ate, and took off for home before it got dark.
Rocky was quite the character. He was very chatty. The distance between our homes is quite spread out. We have a half-acre property, so the sidewalk between our two homes, is a bit of a walk. We could hear Rocky walking from his house to ours and up the long driveway to our front porch. He walked with such a purpose, talking all the way!
After September 27th, we were not seeing Rocky anymore. Monday came. No Rocky Tuesday came, no Rocky. My routine was all messed up. No mid-day breaks to sit in the sun and pet Rocky. No animated talking face in the screen door at 4:45pm. My husband’s routine was all messed up too. Rocky loved the outdoors. So does my husband. The two of them would spend hours in the backyard gardening. Where he went, Rocky went. Watching them from the kitchen window was heartwarming. We lost our Himalayan “Bella”, after 12 1/2 years of companionship, in March of 2019. Rocky helped ease the pain of losing her, and he showed up just a couple months after her passing. Bella and my husband spent a lot of time in the yard together.
The following Sunday, after no Rocky, I headed down the driveway to the neighbor’s house. The lady was outside. I had never chatted with her face to face before. I asked if she had seen her cat because he used to hang out at our house during the day, but we hadn’t seen him in a week. She said she hadn’t seen him since the Sunday before either. She also said she had seen a very large owl on Monday evening on our street. My husband had seen a fox while driving to work that week as well. It wasn’t looking good.
My neighbor, let’s call her Dawn, because each Dawn is a new beginning, asked me if I could help her put up flyers to see if anyone had found him. Our hope was that someone found him and ASSumed he didn’t have a home and took him in. We laughed about that, because Rocky was an outdoor cat. He would drive anyone who tried to keep him indoors absolutely bonkers. But we still hoped that was the case.
Luckily, I had pictures of “Rocky.” Really good pictures. Dawn came over, we picked a couple pictures, and made several flyers to put up around the neighborhood. I also posted in Next Door, the Humane Society, and several other places. Sadly, we never found him. but all three of us, Dawn, myself, and my husband, have “seen” him. He came to say goodbye in our dreams. I still think I hear him sometimes.
The first time Dawn came over, she saw my Senior Benefits Advisors showing that I help people with Medicare and more, on my table. She asked me if I could help her with hers. I set an appointment with her to meet the next day and learn about her situation. I would never have approached her to review Medicare with her as she is obviously not 65 years of age.
Dawn came over the next day and we sat at the kitchen table, getting to know each other. It turns out she is not unfriendly. At all. She is on a very fixed income and can not afford glasses. She never saw me wave at her. I learned that she has a habit of putting her hand to her face when she smiles because, due to a chronic health condition, she has no teeth. She told me she is embarrassed about not having teeth and has created this habit to hide this fact. I also learned that she is on Medicare because of chronic health conditions she was born with. In fact, there are many people under the age of 65 on Medicare. Many of these people also have Medicaid as they are unable to work due to their health conditions. They live on very fixed incomes and often have excessive medical bills, or, like Dawn, they go without.
Because Dawn has both Medicare and Medicaid, she is what we call in the insurance world, Dual Eligible. There are special plans developed by insurance companies to help this population. These plans are called Dual Eligible Special Needs Plans. (D-SNP for short)
Dual Eligible Special Needs Plans have extra benefits built into them. Life changing extra benefits. When I say extra, I mean more that original Medicare and Medicaid offers. Before I became a certified Medicare Broker, I would have thought that people would automatically know there are extra benefits, and more options available to them. Maybe someone who helps them get on Medicare would ask if they have Medicaid and tell them they may qualify for extra benefits. They do not. That’s not their job, it’s mine.
There are four different levels of Medicaid eligibility, based on income levels. Each D-SNP plan accepts different eligibility categories. There are also two categories of dual eligible beneficiaries; partial-benefit, and full-benefit, and four levels of Medicaid based on your income levels. Your Certified Medicare Insurance Agent can help you find out what level you are, and if you qualify for a D-SNP in your area.
A great reference to learn more about Dual Special Needs Plans is from the National Contracting Center and can be found here: https://nccagent.com/resources/guides/dsnp-guide/. It’s a guide for agents, but I find it is very informative for consumers as well.
Dawn’s level is a Full-Benefit Dual Eligible Beneficiary. (FBDE) Meaning she is eligible for the Dual Special Needs Plan at no cost to her. The extra benefits of each plan vary, but may include some, all, benefits not listed here, or a combination of the following benefits:
While getting to know Dawn, I learned that her doctor wanted her to swim to help with pain she endures due to her health condition. We have also shared meals together and I learned that there are several healthy foods she simply can’t eat. I learned that she often can’t even get to her doctor’s appointments because she doesn’t have gas money to get there.
After confirming that she did in fact qualify for the Dual special Needs Plan at Full Benefits, she learned that she will be able to get transportation to appointments if needed. She will get a gym membership where she can swim to alleviate pain as her doctor recommends, and most important to her right now, she will be able to get dentures.
When my husband came home from work, he found me sitting with our neighbor, both of us crying. In part because we talked about Rocky coming to tell us he is fine, and partly because we know that she will soon be getting the health care she needs but could not afford. And teeth.
I was able to enroll Dawn in the D-SNP plan with a start date of January 1. She already has an appointment with a dentist in January. I see a change in her already. She is excited. She has hope. Her life will change when she gets dentures. She will have more confidence, and better health due to being able to eat healthy foods she could not eat before. Also, swimming is going to help her alleviate pain, and live a happier, healthier life. I know she will use this gym benefit. She is so grateful that we had this “chance” encounter. Because of a cat. Our “Rocky.”
Since helping Dawn, I keep finding myself in situations where people need my help. I was at a physical therapy appointment a couple weeks ago, and when I left, I found that my transmission was shot. I was able to get help from the staff getting “Lucy” into a parking spot. A gal I was chatting with while working out, turned out to be good friends with a good friend of mine. She offered to give me a ride home. I mentioned when leaving her truck that if she knew anyone who needed help with Medicare, I would be happy to help them as Open Enrollment is ending soon. She said, “Me.” I need help! Seriously, she is no where near Medicare age. It turns out that she has a chronic health condition. Her health condition is very rare, and she has been dealt many challenges. One of the side effects of her condition is hearing loss. She qualified for the D-SNP at the Full Benefit Level and will now be getting hearing aids. She is beyond excited. What a blessing.
Before learning about this population, people on both Medicare and Medicaid (Dual Eligible), and the existence of Special Plans that can help them get life changing extra benefits they may not be aware of, I had been searching for meaning in my life. Asking the question “What is my purpose?”
It seems that God, the universe, fate, or whatever you call that force that leads us to circumstances and “chance” meetings, is working in my life. I am committed to finding people who qualify for, and need the products and services offered by the Dual Special Needs Plan.
If you or someone you know has both Medicare and Medicaid, and you would like to find out if you qualify for a D-SNP, you can reach out to me in any of the following ways:
Shannon Ming- Senior Benefits Advisors
Business Phone- 719-315-5588
Book An Appointment Through Facebook- https://www.facebook.com/shannonmckeonming (Click on Book Now.)
In closing, I want to thank “Dawn” for teaching me that you don’t know someone until you take the time to get to know them, for becoming my friend, and for sharing “Rocky” with us.