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  • Northeast Wisconsin
  • October 2018
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Medicare and retirement: Will you be ready when you turn 65? Ulness Health Insurance & Wellness will educate you before you enroll

Pam, John and Marit Ulness Pam, John and Marit Ulness

No matter how much value they provide, there are certain products that hold the unfortunate stereotype of being complicated and confusing. And while health insurance is essential protection for life in the modern age, it can also bring an intimidation factor that lends itself to unease and apprehension.

It’s something John and Pam Ulness, owners of Ulness Health Insurance & Wellness can’t deny, but also defy in their approach to providing clients with the best service in a cozy setting in downtown Appleton.

The office is filled with family: the couple’s daughter, Marit, and John’s sister, Christine. Their Minnesota location is run by their son, Erik, who also oversees operations at the Wisconsin location. The clincher to their homey atmosphere? Their two dogs, Jordy and Barley, unofficial “mascots” of the family-owned company. The lovable golden retrievers are a part of the day-to-day operations at the office and greet clients at the door.

It’s just one of the ways Ulness Health shows they’re different from the typical health insurance agency.

A no pressure, educational environment

Medicare Advantage plans, Medicare supplements, Medicare prescription drug plans and family health insurance (Obamacare) both on and off the Marketplace, dental insurance, and vision insurance are all under the scope of what Ulness Health provides.

But as opposed to “captive” insurance agents who sell for one company, Ulness Health is considered a brokerage and offers plans from a variety of providers. It allows them to genuinely connect with and put their clients’ needs before any agenda of selling.

“We have all the plans and all the Medicare Advantage plans that are available in this area. We’re not going to push a certain plan, we’re going to give you information and help you choose,” Pam says.

“People ask us if they go to the insurance shop down the road, will they be able to beat our price? No. We’re all dealing with the same rates,” Marit explains.

A large part of the process at Ulness Health is clearing up misconceptions like the above, and educating clients about how health insurance — specifically Medicare for those people in their 60s looking at retirement and asking what health insurance will look like — works by answering questions about deductibles, maximum out-of-pocket costs and more.

“John and I were both teachers. And Marit is an educator as well,” Pam explains. “I’ve always wanted to teach and I really like customer service, I like helping people. We really truly have the greatest clients. They just want help, they want guidance.”

“They’ll always leave with more information than they came in with and they’ll truly understand it,” John adds. “It’s easy to be confused… that’s the teaching part of it. The ABCs, 123s — the basic things. Once they learn it, they’re empowered. We can make it easier for you.

“There’s no extra cost for what we do. We’re a part of the insurance companies in a sense… and just like property and auto insurance, we provide the service on the upfront education enrollment. And we do the extra step of going through provider networks, medicine lists, different costs that are available, tax credits, wellness benefits and other extra benefits that the plans offer.”

Ulness Health does so in the way the client most prefers and feels comfortable: at their office, in your home, over the phone or via computer screen share or other technology, and in educational workshops (see sidebar for more information).

One aspect missing from Ulness Health’s business model? Hard selling and pressure to sign up for a plan.

“We’re truly here to help,” Marit says. “If someone comes in and says ‘these are my options’ and the best option leaves us out of the equation, we’ll tell them that they should go for it.”

“The stereotypical insurance agent is known for pressuring,” John adds. “That’s not us!”

The future of health care and wellness

John explains that health care and the health insurance industry are moving more care upstream to lower cost and add greater value for prevention. Insurance companies want healthier members to lower cost and health providers want healthier patients for better outcomes. It’s another reason he encourages people to work with experts who can help them get the most out of their coverage.

“Short-term policies are starting to really open up more now,” Marit says. “For 2019, that’s going to be a whole new world for the people who don’t qualify for a tax credit and are really healthy with no pre-existing conditions.”

“And it’s going to be the consumers directing what health care is going to look like,” John adds. “There are going to be new options for consumers to access health care and insurance. Hospitals and doctors will have to ask, ‘What does the patient want?’ They have to focus on the patient, the consumer.”

Consumers want to be well, and wellness is an aspect of Ulness Health that is continually growing and evolving.

John believes people want to choose wellness, but they need to be given that opportunity through education and awareness. Ulness Health goes the extra step in getting the word out about health and wellness opportunities for prevention.

Health care in the community offers convenience, lower cost and greater value in terms of getting and keeping people healthy. In April 2018, Medicare approved paying fitness centers to reverse pre-diabetes through group education on fitness and nutrition.

Another example of this is the upcoming Finding Balance program on October 30 from 9 a.m.-12 p.m. at the Bubolz Nature Preserve. Injuries due to falling are a major concern because most can be prevented with better workout routines.

“We say ‘get educated before you enroll’ a lot because when you have information that you can understand and use, you will have peace of mind about your health insurance.” —John Ulness

“Service is a big thing for us, being there for people after the sale; we’re not agents who signed you up and now tell you to call a 1-800 number or the insurance company if you have a problem…we’re here for you, never hesitate to call.” —Pam Ulness

“I’ve made fast friends with so many people. The thank you cards and clients shooting me nice texts about how much we’ve helped them are my favorite parts of the day. I can’t believe this is what I do… the connections are real.” —Marit Ulness

Understanding Medicare from Ulness Health Insurance & Wellness

What is Medicare? Medicare is the federal government’s health insurance program for Americans aged 65 and older, as well as younger people with disabilities, end stage renal disease and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.

What are the parts of Medicare? Medicare has four parts: Part A, Part B, Part C and Part D. Part A covers inpatient hospital stays, skilled nursing facility stays and hospice care. Part B covers doctors’ services, lab tests and other outpatient services. Part C is known as Medicare Advantage and is an alternative way for Medicare beneficiaries to receive their Medicare Part A and Part B benefits by signing up for a plan through a private insurance company. Part D covers prescription drugs.

I am eligible for Medicare. How do I sign up? You may enroll in Medicare on the Social Security Administration website. Once you have enrolled, you will receive a red, white and blue Medicare card in the mail. However, the process doesn’t stop there. Now you must decide if you want to enroll in a Medicare Supplement or Medicare Advantage plan. You should also enroll in a Part D prescription drug plan. See below to understand more about your options.

Turning 65? Looking to retire? Need health insurance?

Attend a free educational workshop or call for a free consultation

Attend one of Ulness Health’s upcoming Medicare Workshops to learn about the Medicare program and your options for enrolling.

Go to or 

Ulness Health Insurance & Wellness

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214 N Superior St, Appleton





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