Solving the Puzzle of a Medicare Age-in Strategy

As Medicare acquisition marketing gets harder, the next frontier will evolve. In this next stage, growth strategies are likely to swap to more of a robust age-in strategy. Getting the age-in year “right” relies not only on a tightly managed communication plan but also the content to support it.

As the Medicare marketing landscape has changed, we have seen the rate of Medicare eligible consumers who switch plans drop, and then plateau. In this next frontier, growth strategies are likely to swap to more of a robust age-in strategy, preparing those coming up on their Medicare eligibility for the process of selecting the best plan for them.

The journey that consumers take during their 64th year as they navigate their choices opens up some exciting possibilities. They’ll be choosing between Medicare Advantage, Original Medicare and other options. And healthcare marketers will be navigating:

• A wide open calendar – the Initial Enrollment period lasts seven months. A plan for communication to your age-in prospect pool as they age-in will be custom to their timeline.

A wide open media frontier – with an audience that engaged in a variety of media channels. In fact, in the U.S., there are more Facebook users from the 65 and above age group than those in the 13- to 17-year-old group.

• The potential for scale with age-in that comes with the influx of boomer population.

As exciting as the opportunity is, being there for the age-in “when” is also complex. But mainly from the perspective of doing so efficiently. Think about it, over the span of a year, consumers will choose their point of entry. Getting this “right” relies on a tightly managed communication plan and the content to support it.

The age-in timeline will need to support:

  • Awareness – Trying reaching out to the audience early, this way you’ll inspire confidence and make it easier to engage. Starting early will ensure you are part of the consideration set.
  • Engagement – Try to connect their planning process to your brand by engaging in a dialogue. And then tailor your approach. You’ll want to have the content available to satisfy the research needs of your audience.
  • Conversion – If you’ve done all of these things well, you’ll be in the position to support the really good stuff – the shopping!

That’s a lot! And determining the right amount of touches is daunting! That’s why we recommend investing in a data environment to help you make sense of the situation.

Your age-in data environment should enable:

  • Clarity – aggregate all relevant prospect and customer-level activities into one analyzable and consistent source.
  • Accurate reporting – drive accurate and timely reporting from your offline and online marketing spend and efforts
  • Deep insights – build a foundation for discovering marketing insights based on real world customer interactions.

A data environment will give you the confidence you need to make decisions and be in control of the situation. Then you’ll be able to set up all of the nifty content you need for success!

Medicare Marketing: 3 Strategies to Address Acquisition Declines

If you’re responsible for Medicare marketing, you are most likely already prepping for the eight weeks in the Fall that have become pivotal to your business strategy. It’s the only time of year that most seniors can make a change to their Medicare Advantage coverage so the noise during this timeframe has built to a crescendo. But beyond market competition, you face another challenge. In recent years the rate of seniors who switched plans has plateaued or outright declined. You need to rethink your approach.

If you’re responsible for Medicare marketing, you are most likely already prepping for the eight weeks in the Fall that have become pivotal to your business strategy. It’s the only time of year that most seniors can make a change to their Medicare Advantage coverage so the noise during this timeframe has built to a crescendo.

For acquisition marketers, the stakes are high and your goals are clear. Entice eligible seniors to switch to your plan during the Annual Enrollment Period (AEP).

But beyond market competition, you face another challenge. In recent years the rate of seniors who switched plans has plateaued or outright declined.

As recently as 2015, 23% of seniors switched plans. Today, it’s a mere 9%. What does a decline like this mean? If you apply the 9% to your marketable universe before calculating your expected return, the math itself will demonstrate the problem.

You need to rethink your approach to Medicare marketing.

But before you move to a new strategy, let’s dig a little deeper into the data. Turns out, the Medicare switchers are largely, if not exclusively confined to those who had an event or interaction that would predispose them to switching during the year.

It could be a customer service issue, a price complaint — or something else entirely — either way, it points to the conclusion of Deft Research that “switchers are not created during the AEP. A combination of consumer experiences and insurer outreach throughout the year creates them.”

How best to react? Embrace the challenge with a proactive approach to change.

3 Strategies to Address Medicare Marketing Declines

1. Rethink seasonality — Only 88% of seniors who had decided to switch plans by the start of AEP, actually switched. Similarly, 90% of those who decided to stay with their same 2017 coverage ultimately did. What does this data imply about seasonality? Although transactions occur during the AEP, the real work –relationships with members are year-round endeavors.

2. Engage with your audience — Embark on a strategy to build or establish a relationship ahead of the transactional AEP. Since today’s 65-year-old was in their mid-40s when the Google search engine launched, they are internet savvy, social and will engage. There are lots of ways to keep them warm, informed and connected.

3. Get to know the “new” senior — Could it be that the new senior audience is misunderstood? Let’s think about that… while “misunderstood” is a term usually reserved for teenagers, today’s Boomers see themselves, and aging very differently. They are dealing with their own version of being underestimated by today’s businesses. The boomer generation is dedicated to changing the way society thinks about retirement and aging. Loyalty is a two-way street with this audience. While the “old” senior citizen may have been known for their loyalty, the new senior is discriminating and looking for value to support their lifestyle — their needs come first!

While switching has been down — shopping behavior has not.  This dynamic leaves the window open for more change to occur, especially if you take their lead and engage the new seniors outside of a transactional and limited approach.