It’s the Annual Election Period (AEP) and now is a really difficult time to turn your thoughts away from what’s right in front of you, but a strong retention program can be the difference between achieving your enrollment goals or missing them. Member retention is key to long-term success. Net growth does not happen with new sales alone, but with a careful balance between new sales and the retention of members once they have enrolled. The following are three recommendations to help you think through opportunities for your retention plan.
- Onboarding new members and developing a year-long engagement strategy is crucial today. Per the Deft research 2019 (Open Enrollment Period) OEP study “Almost 75% of the OEP switchers had also switched during AEP!” And GHG expects to see more movement during OEP this year as Medicare beneficiaries are more aware of the opportunity. Developing a structured onboarding strategy that begins with the agent (whether it is a sales agent or telephone representative) is important. In addition, developing a Welcome package and Welcome calls that occur well before the new member is accessing benefits is important. During these communications, you need to capture how each member wants to be communicated with going forward to find the best way to interact on a one-to-one basis.
Today there are multiple benefits (all with different rules and access points) that are offered by vendors and not the health plan which can cause confusion. This doesn’t include the plan rules, provider issues, and the complexity of some of the pharmacy benefits offered today. Developing a year-long multi-channel education strategy for new members is key to engagement. This strategy should be more heavily weighted to the first three months during the OEP.
- Many times GHG asks the question “How do you educate members about new benefits, especially new additions to the Plan or decreases in premium and copays?” In most cases the response is the Annual Notice of Change (ANOC). GHG considers this a government document not a member communication. While there is advertising to increase membership, many times the effort is not made to let members know what you are doing for them. Communicating to your members about what you do right and the improvements you are making to benefits, premiums, providers, and even better operational improvements can help the member to ignore the AEP or be persuaded by agents or the advertising in the marketplace. Many times this can be done by a variety of touch points such as outbound phone calls, newsletters, emails, your website, member meetings, or digitally to make sure the member has reinforcement in a variety of different communication channels.
- Developing a specific retention strategy to target those most likely to leave. Typically, we know those who are in a Medicare Advantage (MA) plan less than three years and members with the little to no utilization or engagement are most likely to leave, but does that hold up for your MA plan? Profiling members most likely to leave and investing in a retention strategy to engage these members will more than pay for itself. Also, it is important to measure this and understand what the potential return on investment is for these efforts. As budgets are constantly under scrutiny, you need to understand what these investments in retention save you in the long run.
These are just three tips to get you started on your way to increasing membership, just by keeping the members you have! If you have questions or want more information about how you can develop a member retention or engagement strategy reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org or call me at 215-499-1417. Call today – it is not too late to get this done before 2020!