As Seen in Beckers Hospital Review: 3 Reasons it’s a Whole New Year in Medicare
By April Gill
Changes to the Medicare market are making it challenging for health plans to attract, retain and engage members. Research shows that Medicare Advantage enrollment has almost doubled since 2010, and with the open enrollment period well underway, it’s more important than ever for health plans to recognize these changes and prepare for a new Medicare season.
Here are three ways the Medicare market is changing and how health plans can adapt:
In 2019, Medicare Advantage members will have an additional opportunity to disenroll from their plan if they decide it isn’t right for them. Unhappy members can now make a one-time switch to a similar plan or to original Medicare during the first three months of the year. This makes health plans extremely vulnerable and at risk of losing members.
Retention starts on day one, so it’s essential to make and maintain a good first impression. The key to this is engagement and personalization. By leveraging seamless, personalized and targeted multi-channel tools, health plans can encourage members to engage in their health and wellbeing right at the start, ultimately improving overall member satisfaction.
These days, consumers use rating tools to evaluate everything from restaurants, to hotels and work places. After learning about Medicare’s new Star Ratings initiative, 75 percent of beneficiaries say they would also use them to select a future plan. A growing number of Medicare eligible consumers are judging Medicare Advantage plans based on quality of care, customer service, plan responsiveness and more. To get ahead of this trend, health plans can improve patient outcomes and satisfaction by implementing targeted multi-channel campaigns to close gaps in care and engage members in the appropriate care and condition management programs or support access to valuable resources.
Targeted outreach programs allow health plans to deliver relevant information to those with specific health conditions. Members receive only the information they need, helping them stay on top of their condition and satisfied with their care, without feeling overwhelmed.
Tech Savvy Seniors
The majority of senior consumers are actively using digital tools in their daily lives to improve their health, so technology solutions are proving to be powerfully effective within this hard-to-reach market. To successfully connect with these members, health plans need to add multi-channel communications and personalize outreach using channels they prefer. This can include automated telephone or web calls, emails and text messages.
Nearly 67 percent of people over the age of 65 use the internet. 42 percent have a smartphone. As technology adoption continues to rise among seniors, their health needs will inevitably change. It may actually become easier for them to manage their health as they learn to navigate digital health platforms, but health plans need to provide the right tools for them to find success.
Health policy and digital innovations are constantly shaking up the industry. Health plans need to stay alert as the Medicare market mirrors these changes. To stay competitive, it is critical to understand both prospective and current members, their health needs and how to adjust plan design. By delivering personalized, targeted and digitally driven programs, health plans can ensure the retention of members and continue to improve quality outcomes as Medicare Advantage continues to evolve.
Originally published in Becker's Hospital Review on November 7 2018.