Starting January 1st, 2019 there will be an Open Enrollment Period (OEP) that will allow Medicare beneficiaries to make “like plan” changes until March 31st, 2019. This is not just an extension of the Annual Enrollment Period (AEP) (which is between October 15th and December 7th each year); rather the OEP should be likened to a “grace period,” where Medicare beneficiaries are allowed the opportunity to disenroll from their current plan and select a new plan with their existing carrier or competitor.
Editor's note: This story has been updated. For the most recent information about the OEP, please see the article: 2019 Medicare OEP Update: Don’t Miss Your Opportunity to Make a Good First Impression
The Medicare OEP is BACK!
Starting January 1st, 2019 there will be an Open Enrollment Period (OEP) that will allow Medicare beneficiaries to make “like plan” changes until March 31st, 2019. This is not just an extension of the Annual Enrollment Period (AEP) (which is between October 15th and December 7th each year); rather the OEP should be likened to a “grace period,” where Medicare beneficiaries are allowed the opportunity to disenroll from their current plan and select a new plan with their existing carrier or competitor. Medicare beneficiaries will be able to make the following ‘like plan’ changes during the 2019 OEP:
• MAPD to MAPD
• MAPD to Original Medicare with Part D
• Original Medicare with Part D to MAPD
• MA only plan to MA only plan
• MA only plan to Original Medicare
• Original Medicare to MA only plan
The old adage “you never get a second chance to make a first impression” has never been truer for Medicare Advantage Plans. These insurers will not only need to optimize their acquisition strategy for AEP, but also develop a comprehensive, actionable strategy to retain members through OEP. Marketing budgets will likely need to be re-assessed, and technology infrastructure will need to be evaluated and tested to ensure all processes are running smoothly and efficiently. In addition, MA Plans will want to invest the time and effort (NOW) to educate and train their staff.
Marketing Strategy Overview
The reinstatement of the OEP fundamentally changes a health plan’s sales and marketing strategy. There’s a new opportunity to ‘seize the moment’ and be a winner during OEP if they can create a feeling of ‘Wantedness’ (www.wantedness.com) for the member, beginning with onboarding.
MA Plans should consider the following three priorities to set-up for success during 2019 OEP:
1) Seamless Onboarding
Focusing on ways to enhance the customer’s onboarding experience (within the first 90-days) will improve stickiness by setting consumer expectations for the life of the relationship, making their decision to move to a competitor more difficult. Customers are twice as likely to talk about a ‘bad experience’ than a positive one. Making sure new members 1) understand what they bought 2) know how to use it, and 3) feel they made a good decision, are paramount to building a lasting relationship (aka LifeTime Value).
Prioritize their onboarding efforts around 3 themes:
“Are my doctors in network?”
“Can I get the care I need when I need it?”
- In-bound call campaigns designed to proactively address potential issues related to members finding and receiving care early (and triage appropriately).
- Update provider directories to make sure network information is accurate and provider finder tools & apps are intuitive.
“How can I be sure that I have coverage?” “Did I buy the right plan (for my needs)?”
- Reinforcing coverage by providing digital copies of ID cards immediately upon enrollment.
- Outbound tele-marketing (OBTM) + email campaigns to ensure the member ‘understands what they bought’; highlighting plan features and benefits (aka the ‘after-sale’ sale).
“Do I feel welcome?”
“Do I feel comfortable trusting my health with this company?”
“Does this company know and understand me?”
- Simplified onboarding materials (print, online, etc.)
- Preference centers built to capture communication preferences.
Leverage Data & Analytics
Smart MA Plans look for ways to leverage data and analytics to better understand their members and gain primary insights in an effort to prioritize outreach and target those members who may be uncertain or dissatisfied with their current product and most likely to leave.
- Product propensity model(s) to validate the right fit between member and product.
- Attrition models to determine who is most likely to leave.
- Risk classification/segmentation used to prioritize outreach and guide members to select other options that might be a better fit.
- Always On Strategy Great Medicare plans know they have to have a strategy to keep stay in front of the customer throughout the year, not just during selling season. Develop an effective, content-driven brand advertising campaign that can be deployed during OEP utilizing digital and traditional channels ensures you stay relevant and top-of-mind for those that may be looking to make a switch. Don’t go dark – you are still in the game!
5 STAR Plans
For those plans successful enough to have reached 5 STAR status, you are in a unique position to capitalize on consumer dissatisfaction in the marketplace. While other plans will be playing defense in OEP, you get to stay in acquisition mode and monetize this new switcher opportunity.
- Playbook of ‘market disruption’ tactics ready to deploy as necessary
- Contingency planning to capitalize on poor member experiences in other plans
- Marketing materials that highlight what is means to be 5 STAR, reinforcing your superiority
- Allocating marketing budget dollars in Q1 to capitalize on members seeking to switch competitors in addition to plans
The Medicare Advantage market has crossed 21 million beneficiaries and is expected to move from 35% to 50% market share inside in the next 3-4 years. In this intensely competitive market, now with an extended OEP, customer engagement has never been more important. Give beneficiaries a reason to engage and connect with you…grab their attention, be relevant, and evoke emotion. Create opportunities for one-on-one interactions that reinforce the value of their MA plan purchase, always answering a Medicare customer’s most important question, “What’s in it for me?”
REMEMBER: The cost of acquiring a new member is estimated at 6X the cost of retaining an existing one. Loyalty-based member engagement plays a big role in a health plan’s success…don’t put long-term profitability at risk.
Wunderman Health is a focused marketing agency that amplifies brand awareness, drives acquisition and strengthens customer experiences. Committed to improving health outcomes, we deliver communications that engage and empower consumers and health professionals. Our strategic ‘readiness’ guidance drives client relevance, our data-driven insights optimize content, and our integrated customer experiences inspire action.
Jim Politte ‖ firstname.lastname@example.org ‖ 314-590-8390