Why the OEP is So Important This Year

With the overwhelming uncertainty due to a global pandemic and a Presidential election year, the entire industry is looking for a crystal ball to shed some light on this year’s Annual Enrollment Period (AEP). Despite this uncertainty, there are a few things we do know for certain:

  • There will be NO large gatherings for member town halls in the fall to review 2021 benefits.
  • With town halls, seminars, and one-on-one meetings transitioning to virtual, health plans and agents will face a learning curve this AEP.
  • This AEP could mark a real change in how business is conducted within the Medicare market going forward.
  • The consensus is that this year’s AEP will be challenging, but that there will also be huge opportunity during the Open Enrollment Period (OEP) for enrollment gains or, conversely, more losses.

Large Field Marketing Organizations (FMOs) and National Marketing Offices (NMOs) are learning how to skirt the Medicare Communication and Marketing Guidelines (MCMGs) by generically advertising Medicare all year long – but especially during the AEP and OEP. The sheer prevalence of ads featuring Joe Namath during the last OEP is evidence enough of plans’ desire to find creative ways to advertise.

Why the Open Enrollment Period is Critical for 2021

This year, health plans should be prepared with an intentional OEP strategy that specifically focuses on gaining membership. If you aren’t prepared, you may be the only Medicare Advantage (MA) plan not advertising. So, how can plans advertise while staying compliant? There are several strategies that your team can incorporate:

  • Utilize your New-to-Medicare Programs to actively market during this time, and apply other tactics not currently in play.
  • Rely on your brand advertising to gain awareness.
  • If you have Medicare Supplement, use that advertising to gather leads and see how many prospects actually need an MA plan.
  • Research the current NMOs/FMOs and see if it is worthwhile to be a part of their programs.
  • Talk to your best agents and brokers to find out what they are doing for you—or what you can do for them.

In addition, remember member retention! Of course, it is important to gain new members, but it is equally as important to hold onto existing members. Ensuring that your new members understand their benefits, and how to utilize them, is critical for member retention. Make sure your plan’s existing members know what is happening to their 2021 benefits—and don’t surprise them. Overcommunication is key, and there are specific actions your plan can take to ensure your members are receiving proper communication.

Conclusion

These are just a small handful of ideas to help you build your OEP strategy. If you have questions, or want more information about how you can improve performance this year’s OEP, contact Diane Hollie today. It is not too late to get this done before 2021!

Diane Hollie
Diane Hollie

Diane Hollie is Associate Vice President of Sales, Marketing & Strategy at Gorman Health Group (GHG). In this role, she provides strategic consulting services to ensure organizations maximize their sales distribution and marketing mix. Diane brings GHG clients more than 20 years of experience in marketing, sales, and product development for Government programs. Her strong marketing, sales and compliance background has extended to providing compliance guidance for marketing, sales and customer service communications.

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