January 1, 2020, Medicare Advantage (MA) enrollees have a one-time opportunity to switch their plan, similar to a grace period, and the opportunity ends March 31. Both new MA enrollees and existing enrollees have the ability to switch plans. This is a chance for MA plans to win and lose enrollment! To make sure you are not on the losing enrollment side, here are a few ideas in which to invest resources and budget before the upcoming Open Enrollment Period (OEP). Per the Deft research 2019 OEP study, “Almost 75% of the OEP switchers had also switched during AEP!” GHG expects to see more movement during OEP this year as Medicare beneficiaries are more aware of the opportunity.
Member Services and Member Communications Need to Be the Stars of OEP!
Member communication interactions (either verbal, written, or in person) could either break or win you the OEP. You still have time to review your welcome interactions with both new and existing members to ensure they are best in class. You may want to have member events this year so new and existing members understand the 2020 benefits – and if you have great news for them, you want to make sure they hear it.
The goal is to ensure every new member knows what to do January 1 and to have multiple touches that educate, welcome, and engage members about their new MA plan. The earlier you start this process, the better. You do not want buyer’s remorse occurring at any point from the sale through the end of OEP. Existing members need to be educated about any changes in benefits, and if your data is talking to you, you will have a list of members who need “real” hands-on member service touch points.
Basic awareness of online portals and any mobile apps offered by the plan also correlate strongly to plan loyalty. Loyal members are more likely to participate in plan wellness programs, which can help with cost containment and utilization.
In addition, when was the last time you really looked at the communications going to your members?
- Are you communicating too much or not enough?
- Do the communications have the same tone and messaging throughout? Or are they just recycled from year to year?
- Has the Member Services team received training lately to make sure they are reinforcing the tone and messaging you want your members to hear and feel?
- Do they know the 2020 benefits and what benefits to make sure members know about?
- Do you listen to Member Services calls to ensure you are providing the member experience you portray in your advertising and communications?
- Do you take member feedback into account in designing member materials?
Usefulness of member materials in regards to understanding coverage and benefits is strongly associated with loyalty. Now is the time to reassess how you are communicating with your members and make certain you are maximizing your opportunity.
Marketing Cannot Be Forgotten
Health plans are unable to market the OEP opportunity but do have the ability to market the following:
- New to Medicare
Although you may not have much of a budget for marketing during the first quarter, you can utilize it effectively. Make sure you are advertising in January and the last few weeks of March. If you have educational events, advertising them digitally or though radio will help bring additional awareness to what your organization does for its members. Most plans have a very robust “New to Medicare” budget already, but you may want to invest in some freestanding inserts in January or March, amp up your digital advertising, and/or advertise on TV. Utilize branding during this time since it puts your name in the market during the OEP. Whatever you have the resources to do, make sure you are strategic in your efforts to make it worthwhile.
It Is Not All About Winning Enrollment
At Gorman Health Group, we are hearing many clients talk about gaining enrollment during the OEP but not so much about the possibility of losing membership. Your goal should be to ensure you have everything in place for this OEP to make certain you are on the winning side of OEP and are not giving up your membership to another MA plan that made sure they strategically invested in this opportunity!