Even the most competitive Medicare Advantage products cannot grow without intentional sales and marketing strategies. Medicare Advantage growth is contingent on fostering appropriate sales pipelines and marketing to targeted audiences of age-ins and switchers.
Prioritize foundational sales channels
1. Understand the unique Medicare Advantage sales structure
Medicare Advantage sales are uniquely dependent on the role of brokers and independent agents—licensed professional who sell a variety of Medicare products from multiple plans, as opposed to internal or captive agents who sell directly from or for one plan. Direct online sales and e-brokers attract outsized publicity but have yet to make a significant dent on MA sales; seniors prefer the education and friendly face that comes from a live salesperson.
Our Medicare Advantage Consumer Shopping Survey found that 51% of respondents nationally purchased their MA plan through a broker or independent agent; in some markets that number is as high as 70-80%. Simply put, the impact of brokers of Medicare Advantage is too large to be ignored.
2. Build strong relationships with brokers
Brokers view themselves as Medicare educators first, which means that a strong relationship is hinged on making it easy for them to understand and communicate your plan’s value to their customers.
High-impact opportunities to support broker and client education include take-home educational materials for brokers to share with clients. Brokers also appreciate customed training opportunities that clarify less-understood clinical benefits and help simplify the value of your plan. Finally, ensure ongoing broker support and education through timely access to a responsive broker support team.
Additional strategies to improve broker relationships include:
- Communicate through less-frequent, high-impact broker outreach (think weekly summaries, not daily emails)
- Keep provider directories up-to-date
- Intervene early when a new member is enrolled—make sure brokers aren’t the sole gateway to your plan
3. Strengthen your sales pipeline beyond brokers
Outside of brokers there exist other channels for generating interest in your MA plan and directing new enrollment. Investing in these channels helps cast a wide net for attracting potential new members and diversifies your sales portfolio.
Develop tailored marketing and outreach strategies for key member segments
New Medicare Advantage enrollment comes from two distinct populations: “age-ins,” seniors who are aging into Medicare eligibility, and “switchers,” seniors who are switching between Medicare Advantage plans. (A smaller number of seniors may also be switching from Original Medicare to Medicare Advantage).
Though most Medicare Advantage plans are focused on organic growth from the age-in population, switchers are a large pool of often untapped potential new members. To ensure steady growth, health plans must capture some of the switcher population to make up for their own membership attrition each year.
Outreach to age-in populations typically starts at age 64 at six-month frequency until Medicare eligibility through mail or targeted emails. Subsequent rounds of outreach should address confusion around the Medicare process by providing education on:
1. Medicare in general and the enrollment process
2. Medicare Advantage and how it differs from Original Medicare
3. Your Medicare Advantage product and how it is different (or better than!) other MA products
The switcher population is larger than age-ins in any given year but is more difficult to convert from their existing MA memberships. Contrary to top criteria when picking a plan, Medicare Advantage members most often consider switching plans to get a broad range of supplemental benefits or to get a specific supplemental benefit. Members may also feel compelled to switch after a negative experience with their plan, particularly a negative dental experience.
Television and digital campaigns are the most impactful modalities for reaching the large pool of potential switchers. Health plans should highlight how their supplemental benefits stand out against competitor offerings and emphasize a focus on member experience and access.