They say, “There is more than one way to skin a cat.” I am not sure who decided that was a good saying.

But anyway, when it comes to Annual Election Period (AEP) you have to work on more than just new member acquisition to increase your membership numbers – you also need to focus on the Age-In population AND retaining your current members. That’s a lot of cats to skin.

These activities would be going on at the same time as AEP new member acquisition, so it will take planning to make sure all are done effectively.

MEDICARE AGE-IN

With all the focus on new member acquisition, we sometimes can forget there are people aging into Medicare during the months of October – December. This can be a confusing time for them, as they will receive a Post Enrollment Kit telling them they have certain benefits and then also will receive an ANOC/EOC telling them they will have a different set of benefits starting January 1. It is important to educate them on these mailings at the point of sale, as well as a friendly reminder during their welcome call. Educating your new members to these activities can help alleviate confusion and increase retention.

There is also a lot of noise happening during AEP, so make sure your message is out there to those aging in. Some plans stop Age-In marketing entirely, but I would advise against it. Your brand is already out there for new member acquisition, so build on that and keep your Age-In campaigns running as well.

MEDICARE MEMBER RETENTION

When it comes to member retention, there are cost-efficient and easy ways to help your current members stay with you during the very confusing time of ANOC Shock and AEP. Deft Research did a 2016 Senior Shopping and Switching Study and found if a plan sent a promotional mailing out to members during AEP, it decreased switching by 8%. Phone outreach had an even better result, where a phone call to current members during AEP decreased switching by 11%. That might not seem like a lot at first, but even a 5% increase in customer retention rate increases profits 25% to 95%. Doesn’t look so small now does it?

So what if you don’t have the resources to call all your members? At a time in AEP when health plans are super slammed, that is a viable concern. What if you knew which member was mostly likely to disenroll during AEP? Modeling your members provides you that information.  

Modeling allows you to take the demographic and psychographic makeup of past disenrollees and apply those same metrics to your current members. Those that “look like” those who have disenrolled in the past will be flagged so you can know where to best focus your member retention efforts. Also, even a simple IVR message to members with the ability to opt-in and talk to a live member services representative can be effective.

There is a lot of noise and confusion during AEP, so make sure you are out there talking to those who are going to be new to Medicare. Also be sure to communicate to your current members, so they see you as a trusted advisor. Most of all – watch your membership numbers grow!