Leadership Edge: “To avoid burnout, slow down” with Lindsay Engle

Lindsay Bio: Lindsay Engle is a Medicare expert at MedicareFAQ. She loves sharing her expertise and knowledge with those who are looking to learn more about Medicare. Her goal is to make sure Medicare beneficiaries are given the right resources to become educated on all their Medicare options. Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell […]

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Lindsay Bio: Lindsay Engle is a Medicare expert at MedicareFAQ. She loves sharing her expertise and knowledge with those who are looking to learn more about Medicare. Her goal is to make sure Medicare beneficiaries are given the right resources to become educated on all their Medicare options.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

Prior to getting into human healthcare I worked at a veterinary clinic. After a few years, I realized if I continued down this career path, I was going to end up being a crazy cat lady for the rest of my life. (not that that’s a horrible thing!)

I began learning about digital marketing as I was always tech savvy, great with computers, and loved anything that allowed me to express my creative side. After a year or so, I found a passion for SEO, and I was really good at it. I quickly realized how powerful this skill could be, for any industry. 

During my career transition, my father became sick and I became 100% responsible for all his medical needs and care. At that time, after dealing with all his insurance claims, I realized how hard it was for me to find good information online about Medicare. If I had a hard time finding it, how would anyone in my father’s shoes be able to find it? That’s when I knew I wanted to use my skill set to help Medicare beneficiaries and those who care for beneficiaries who have ever found themselves in a similar position or would eventually be faced with the same difficulties. 

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your department?

I’ve always been the one behind the scenes when it came to content creation. If you’ve ever visited our site or searched Google you may have found an article I wrote, but you wouldn’t know I wrote it. Recently, that changed. We needed someone to be the face of the company and our YouTube channel. We wanted it to be someone who was a Medicare expert and who would be comfortable in front of the camera. 

Initially, this was not something I wanted to take on, however, after recording a few videos, I found that I really enjoyed doing it. I love having the opportunity to help make sense of Medicare to those who need it, whether its through written communication or video. 

What makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?

Who do you picture when you think of an owner of a Medicare agency? Typically, people tend to think its an older, highly corporate individual who is completely unrelatable. Well, the co-founders of our company, MedicareFAQ, are just the opposite.

Our CEO & COO are millennials who graduated high school together in 2007. I was also part of their graduating class. They found a passion for helping others through healthcare and used that to fuel their new start up company. 

After working in the healthcare industry in their early twenties, they decided to take on the Medicare industry and start their own agency, Elite Insurance Partners. Through their passion, they quickly grew the company to become one of the top 5 brokerages in the nation. 

They did this by seeing the hole in Medicare education. They knew if they could simply provide the right educational material for benefiaries to find, they could help each one, tremendously. They always say “we would never enroll a client in a policy that we wouldn’t enroll our own family in.”

What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started” and why. (Please share a story or example for each.)

Slow down. I do everything at a fast pace and as I got older, I realized that moving too fast in life can ultimately hinder productivity. Just the other day I was taking the trash out and when I went to grab a new trash bag, I smacked my hand into the corner of our kitchen counter. I smacked it so hard I thought I broke my hand. I could barely make a fist for days. All I could think was…” Lindsay, SLOW DOWN! If your hand doesn’t work, you can’t do your job!”

It didn’t take me long to realize learning Medicare was not something I could do fast. In order for me to do my job right, I had to take the time to learn each topic in depth. I couldn’t use any strategy I learned to get the information high ranking in a web search if it wasn’t written by an expert to begin with. I had to become an expert in the Medicare space to be successful as an SEO in the industry. 

Be transparent. Part of my job is creating content that educates readers. Where I realized I was lacking in my work was transparency. I was afraid if I was honest about the healthcare industry, it would be frowned upon.

I quickly realized that if I wasn’t 100% transparent with our readers, and potential clients, about our current healthcare system, I wouldn’t earn their trust. We would be tossed into the category of “just another insurance broker that wants my money.” We truly care about our clients; we treat every single one like family. I had to prove that to our readers and clients through our educational material by being 100% transparent about policies and expectations.

Spread your wings. At first, I thought if I just learned the basics about Medicare, that was enough to be considered an expert in the healthcare space. I couldn’t have been more wrong. 

Over the past three years, I’ve had to really grasp a multitude of knowledge. So much, it sometimes hurts my brain! I not only had to learn the ins and outs of Medicare, I had to learn about Social Security, taxes, Medicaid, politics, government procedures, CPT codes, and much more. 

Everything I hated listening to my parents talk about at the dinner table, I had to become educated on (minus CPT codes). Now, I wish I paid more attention to those conversations. It took me until my thirties to realize I should’ve paid attention to all the debates that resulted in my mom yelling at my dad for getting too heated over.

Larger well-known companies don’t always have accurate information. When I first began learning the ins and outs of our industry, I assumed that the bigger named companies would have the most accurate information in their educational materials, like their website. Again, I couldn’t have been more wrong. 

I realized how the majority of the well-known brands lacked transparency. They only shared what they wanted you to know. It was hard to find any information that didn’t have a biased twist, so I had to dig deeper to get the big picture.

I made it a goal to differentiate ourselves from those larger, well-known companies by providing the most up-to-date, accurate information instead of just what we think potential clients want to hear.

Don’t expect everyone to understand what you do. One of the biggest challenges I have is explaining what I do, not only to my family, but other departments within our company. There have been times where co-workers thought my day-to-day was writing content and managing social media.

The truth is there’s so much more to it, especially with how competitive our industry is. I had to learn to not to take it to heart. Being an SEO professional comes with many different hats. Just because not every team member understands what you do doesn’t mean they don’t see your value.

Let’s jump to the main focus of our interview. According to this study cited by Newsweek, the US healthcare system is ranked as the worst among high income nations. This seems shocking. Can you share with us 3-5 reasons why you think the US is ranked so poorly?

  1. We allow private insurance companies to take advantage of our healthcare system.
    1. Medicare Advantage carriers exaggerate how sick their patients really are. Over the past three years, they’ve overbilled Medicare almost $30 billion
  2. Administration costs are astronomical in the U.S.
    1. When you take inflation into account, it’s estimated that we spend $569 billion in administrative costs. That’s eight times higher than any other country.
  3. Inefficient primary care
    1. The United States has a 37% higher rate of hospital admissions than the average of any other country. 
  4. Lack of social services
    1. A crucial determinant of health is social services, in which we do not invest enough of our resources in. 
  5. Our healthcare is simply too expensive
    1. 44% of people with income below the median reported they didn’t get medical treatment because it cost too much.

You are a “healthcare insider”. Can you share 5 changes that need to be made to improve the overall US healthcare system? Please share a story or example for each. 

  1. We need to be more transparent with seniors about how our current healthcare system works
    1. TV commercials & mailers, especially during the Medicare Annual Enrollment Period, are falsely informing seniors that Medicare Advantage plans are their only option. You never see any commercials about other types of supplemental coverage. 
  2. All healthcare benefits should include telehealth services
    1. There are so many benefits to telehealth services. If we can offer this option to everyone, it would give so many more people access to the healthcare they need. Especially in rural areas, as well as for our seniors who can no longer drive.
  3. We need to include more Long-Term Care benefits in Medicare
    1. Currently, Original Medicare does not offer long-term care benefits. It was not up until this year that Medicare Advantage plans started adding a few long-term care benefits in their plans (however, still very limited as well as loose in the definition of “long-term care”).
  4. Spend more on primary care.
    1. We’ll have lower overall healthcare costs, as well as better health outcomes, if we invest more in primary care.
  5. Discontinue fee-for-service payment systems
    1. Instead of reimbursing doctors and hospitals based off their quality of service and outcomes, our current fee-for-service payment model reimburses providers based off their volume of services.

Thank you! It’s great to suggest changes, but what specific steps would need to be taken to implement your ideas? What can individuals, corporations, communities and leaders do to help?

  1. We need to put a stop to the monopoly of Medicare Advantage ads and provide seniors with educational materials on ALL of their options, not just Medicare Advantage plans from private insurance companies.
  2. Healthcare leaders can reduce overall costs, as well as improve access if they invested more in technology. Telehealth should be a main focus in our future healthcare system. One of the many ways Telehealth benefits rural hospitals is by giving patients access to specialists. Telehealth also provides seniors who cannot drive with access to their providers.
  3. CMS and healthcare leaders need to work together to come up with a solution for seniors so they have coverage for long-term care. Many beneficiaries think they have some sort of long-term care benefits included in their coverage. It’s not until they go to use their benefits that they find out they have to pay out of pocket for these types of services if they didn’t purchase a stand-alone long-term care policy to supplement their Medicare benefits. 
  4. Healthcare leaders should focus on increasing the amount we invest in primary care from the current 5% to 20%-25%. Instead of focusing on “sick-care”, we need to focus on preventative care. This will result in lower healthcare costs for both the provider and the patient.
  5. Healthcare leaders should shift to a “pay for value” payment model instead of a fee-for-service payment model. If we base the payment model on the appropriateness of care provided, as well as the outcomes, we will reduce overspending on healthcare significantly.

We hear a lot about burnout and how it impacts both our professional and personal lives. As a healthcare leader, what do you recommend to people who express these concerns?

While Medicare doesn’t offer any coverage to beneficiaries directly related to burnout, there is a correlation to mental health, which Medicare does provide coverage for. 

Medicare will cover care to diagnose and treat mental health conditions as well as preventive mental health care. This includes psychotherapy, counseling, psychiatric care, to name a few, among other mental health services. What’s important for beneficiaries to know is that inpatient psychiatric mental health care falls under Part A benefits, covering a portion of the cost for their room, meals, nursing and other services whether in a hospital or psychiatric hospital.

Medicare Part B will also cover portions of mental health services including routine doctor visits which allow beneficiaries to see clinical psychologists, psychiatrists, social workers, counselors, and other health professionals. Additionally, beneficiaries who have access to activity therapy such as dance, art, and music are covered. The final piece of information as it pertains to mental health is Medicare Part D which will cover all antipsychotic and antidepressant medications as insurance companies cannot discriminate when it comes to drugs for mental health.

What are your favorite books, podcasts, or resources that inspire you to be a better healthcare leader? Can you explain why you like them?

  • Danielle Roberts – as a well-known Medicare expert and author, Danielle is a healthcare leader I would consider a mentor of mine. 
  • Seema Verma – as an Administrator for the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, she is a healthcare innovator! We need more women in healthcare like her. 

How can our readers follow you on social media? 

Thank you so much for these insights!  This was so inspiring! 

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