Communication and AEP Strategies

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Coronavirus has had a disproportionate impact on the senior population over the last several months. Seniors account for nearly 80% of deaths due to COVID-19, despite only representing 15% of the overall population.

With AEP just around the corner, it is important to consider the average senior’s appetite for in-person meetings and seminars. Reviewing and understanding the impact of COVID-19 on senior populations will help you empathize with your clients during these times.

On top of addressing your approach to AEP for seniors, we will share a growth opportunity by reviewing affordability for seniors with a Medicare Supplement and Part D that may be costing over $300 per month.

Consider this research about in-person meetings this fall:

  • 60% want to review needs by telephone
  • 16% prefer communication through emails
  • 14% are happy to meet in person
  • 3% would like to video chat through a service such as Zoom (although we may be just one generation away from this being the preferred way)

The numbers are slightly different if you are planning seminars:

  • 42% prefer to speak over the phone.
  • 22% would attend a ‘live’ online seminar
  • 16% would watch pre-recorded videos online
  • 10% exchange emails
  • Only 4% would attend a seminar in person

Sending out a letter reviewing your role as their agent and inviting them to discuss their needs this fall will help identify those that need scheduling for an AEP meeting. The goal is to keep you at the front of their minds before the “snowstorm” of AEP advertising starts so they will remember to call you if they have any questions.

A whopping 87% of seniors who researched their options last year did so to ensure their existing coverage was still the best option. Luckily, they much prefer meeting with an independent local agent before making any decision to change plans. However, 50% of members switching Medicare plans did so over the phone or via a health insurance company’s online enrollment tool.

Nationally, we see around 13% of members on Medicare switching plans each year. This is lower than 2015, during which time it peaked around 23%. It is important that your communities continue to see the value of local professional and independent advice when it comes to enrolling and using health insurance.

One opportunity we see is when seniors are on a high cost Medigap and Part D combination, these often combine for a monthly premium over $300. Some seniors may not need this level of coverage and might instead be better served with an all-in-one Medicare Advantage, especially if it has a good dental component, as this is one benefit seniors really desire.

To show the importance of premiums savings in 2020 (across the USA), 78 out of every 100 people signing up for a Medicare Advantage plan choose a $0 premium plan. Approximately 35.3% choose a $0 HMO option (narrow network) and 42.8% choose a $0 premium PPO (wide network). Combining a PPO network with a $0 premium plan is leading to substantial growth in MA plans.

Do you have clients that will appreciate a discussion about combining their health and Part D into a Medicare Advantage plan?  You can talk about the concept now and, if they are interested, schedule a meeting after October 15th.

Here are the five most popular supplemental benefits that members seek in a Medicare Advantage plan:

  1. Dental
  2. Over-the-counter allowances
  3. Rewards for healthy behaviors (gift cards)
  4. Eyewear allowance
  5. Gym membership

With Medicare Advantage plans lowering out-of-pocket maximums and low or $0 premium options, many seniors appreciate the conversation about change. We think that if offered the chance to change, around 20% would do so. Be prepared to receive a flurry of phone calls when your clients see the premium increases to their standalone Part D; this is also great opportunity to discuss moving to a Medicare Advantage plan.

You can call each of your Medigap clients before AEP to explain the pros and cons of Medicare Advantage versus a Medigap plan and Part D. They will appreciate the discussion, and for some, it could lead to significant premium savings in 2021.

We wish you a great and safe AEP – preparing your strategies and communication plans now will put you in a position for growth.

Best wishes from the LeClair Group Medicare Team.