Tips for growing Dual Eligible Special Needs Plans (DSNP) membership

Medicare Advantage (MA) plan enrollment continues to grow. Per CMS data, nearly 24 million individuals were enrolled in an MA plan as of February 2020. Baby boomers continue to age into Medicare at a high rate, and many are selecting a Medicare Advantage plan.

One of the fastest growing Medicare Advantage plan segments is Dual Eligible Special Needs Plans (DSNPs), with 58% growth since 2016. DSNPs are a special type of plan that provides health benefits to individuals who qualify for both Medicare and Medicaid. These individuals are often described as “dual eligible” or “Duals.”

Below are some helpful tips for growing DSNP membership.

  1. Have a year-round presence
    While the fourth quarter has typically represented the highest shopping volume for Duals, health plans should make every effort to have a year-round market presence. Duals receive state and government assistance with varying eligibility and enrollment standards. A Dual’s eligibility status may change anytime, so it’s crucial to be visible throughout the year. And while Duals no longer have a continuous SEP, they still can enroll or disenroll from a Medicare plan once a quarter from Q1 – Q3. Plans need to be in the market to get their fair share of switchers.
  2. Execute an integrated campaign
    Use an integrated marketing campaign to drive leads. Traditional lead generation channels such as direct mail and digital marketing are important. Focus on mobile advertising, as an overwhelming number of Duals use their mobile phone as the primary source of accessing the web. Where budgets permit, use TV advertising. Deft Research reported that TV watching was the highest media consumption habit for Duals. And one crucial element that should be a high priority for all DSNP plans is grassroots and community-related marketing efforts which provide immediate access to connect with this audience.
  3. Arm your sales representatives and brokers with marketing support materials
    Just like Non-Duals, Duals typically want human assistance when enrolling in a DSNP. It’s crucial that your sales agents and licensed brokers always have educational materials available. Keep your marketing messages simple and clear. And focus on the plan benefits that are most attractive to this audience. Be sure to provide multiple ways for prospects to interact with your representatives. Besides enrolling over the phone, if you offer the ability to schedule one-on-one appointments and/or educational seminars, include those options in your marketing materials. Having the ability to interact with prospects in multiple ways is a good thing.
  4. Transition your own IFP members as they become eligible for Medicare
    One immediate opportunity for plans to grow membership is to focus on transitioning your own Individual and Family Plan (IFP) members as they approach the age of 65. Far too many Medicare plans have missed this opportunity. Build a continuous program that leverages the relationship you have with members. You have a competitive advantage over the other Medicare plans — use it! These are your members and they know you. Do yourself a favor and make sure you talk to them in that manner. Communicate that you are the plan that can best facilitate these members into this new Medicare life stage by helping them understand and make smart Medicare choices and by making it easy to enroll. Direct mail, email and outbound calling should be the selected channels for your member marketing.
  5. Develop a “win-back” strategy
    Given their ability to switch plans multiple times from Q1 – Q3, Duals will continue to disenroll at a rate higher than Non-Duals. Plans should develop a “win-back” strategy to recapture former members. It is crucial to understand why those members decided to disenroll in the first place. Once plan improvements have been made, those improvements should be communicated to former members. A simple comparison chart that clearly outlines the plan improvements can go a long way for recapturing these former members. Be sure to check in with your compliance team to adhere to the CMS Medicare Marketing Guidelines when marketing to former members. And an important note to all plans, while acquisition, retention and win-back strategies are generally viewed as separate functions, they should be operationally coordinated to ensure that you are developing and maintaining member loyalty.

As the number of dual eligibles continues to increase throughout the country and the number of competitors grows, it’s vital that Medicare plans implement the right strategies to help grow membership. If you are looking for a new health care marketing agency, get started today. I can tell you from my experience that the selection process and creative ramp-up will take longer than expected. It always does. Don’t wait.

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