Driving Medicare Plan Growth With Age-In Marketing
Driving new member enrollment growth during AEP has become more challenging over the years. After experiencing high Medicare plan switch rate levels of 20% – 23% from 2012 to 2015, Deft Research reported that only 14% of MA beneficiaries switched plans during 2019 AEP. That is an increase from just 11% for 2018 AEP. Stable premiums and benefit offerings have contributed to these recent low levels of switching, as has the lack of market disruptions.
While AEP will continue to provide a significant opportunity to drive new membership, plans must recognize the importance of capturing the Age-In audience. And in order to do so, plans must capitalize on evolving lifestyle trends and behave in a more strategic manner when competing with other plans.
We believe driving new member growth through Age-In marketing can be achieved through the following:
- Implement an omni-channel advertising approach
- Develop a customized approach to transition individual (ACA) or group members
- Create and execute a Late to Medicare campaign
1. Implement an omni-channel advertising approach
The key to a successful Age-In campaign is developing an impactful creative strategy that separates your plan from the other Medicare plans and executing it through direct mail and digital channels. Direct mail has traditionally been the workhorse for Age-In programs, but with the increase of online usage for this audience, it is critical that plans have an omni-channel approach that includes direct mail, email, paid search and social.
It is unfortunate, but most Medicare plans do not spend enough time analyzing or optimizing their Age-In program, since marketing to those who are aging into Medicare is typically conducted year-round. If you are like most plans, your Age-In efforts are focused on direct mail campaigns that target prospects with multiple touches throughout the year. But you may have overlooked the impact that digital marketing has on reaching those aging into Medicare.
Today’s baby boomers are comfortable using the web to research Medicare and compare plan options. They are even more comfortable shopping and enrolling online, since many of these boomers purchased individual and family plans through the online exchange. As the younger boomers age in, they will continue to be more technologically savvy and better informed about managed care.
If your traditional direct mail program has not been expanded to include digital marketing, you are missing a prime opportunity to grow plan enrollments and capture your fair share of the 10,000 baby boomers who are turning 65 every day. It’s time to fish where the fish are.
2. Develop a customized approach to transition individual (ACA) or group members
One of the greatest opportunities for plans to build enrollment is through transitioning their individual (ACA) and group members. This can be done by providing a seamless transition to a Medicare plan by offering resources and assistance channels to help members with the decision-making process. Those channels include qualified and dedicated call center personnel who are experts on the company’s Medicare plans, as well as easy-to-use online tools that are pre-populated and provide personalized experiences based on the member’s unique situation and geography.
Some plans struggle to deliver the seamless transition experience due to the complexities of individual or multiple legacy systems or CRMs. Others may have challenges coordinating efforts within siloed departments. Each plan has its own challenges, but with a real commitment to making it work, converting existing group or ACA members to a Medicare plan can be a low-cost and efficient source for building membership.
When developing your communications to reach these audiences, direct mail, email and outbound calling should all be considered. However, compared to your Age-In acquisition materials that are sent to prospects, your Member Age-In campaign should differ greatly. Your messaging should leverage the members’ relationship with the plan. Because unlike other Medicare plans, your plan is uniquely qualified to provide a seamless transition to Medicare. This is your opportunity. Take full advantage of it by building a truly customized approach.
3. Create and execute a Late to Medicare campaign
With so many Americans choosing to delay Medicare enrollment past the age of 65, Medicare plans must develop an effective Late to Medicare strategy. Accenture reported that 48% of Americans plan to delay retirement past the age of 65. Those plans that cease their Age-In efforts after a prospect reaches the age of 65 are missing a huge opportunity to increase market share.
We’ve found there is a reluctance to formalize a plan to reach the Late to Medicare audience due to potentially prohibitive costs. If you simply extend your current Age-In direct mail program from age 64 to ages 64 to 67, your new program could increase costs by 3 times.
However, we encourage our clients to conduct a pilot program (or test program) to gauge the market opportunity at a smaller investment. Direct mail will continue to be the strongest channel for lead generation, but given the recent surge of sophisticated audience data, digital marketing should be considered.
At a strategic level, plans must recognize that unlike an AEP program with a defined enrollment deadline (December 7), the Late to Medicare program must be focused on lead nurturing as you will not know when this audience plans to retire. We recommend the use of business reply cards that allow prospects to interact with your plan in a manner they are comfortable with and encourage the prospect to identify when they plan on retiring. This information is vital for follow-up efforts. We also recommend the use of a campaign landing page that includes content that resonates with this audience and the use of an easy-to-use contact form.