Relay recently hosted a webinar with thINc: The Healthcare Innovation Company entitled, “’Aging In’ Gracefully in the Digital Age: Health Plan Strategies to Reach and Retain Medicare Members” focused on the Medicare “age-in” population and strategies for health plans to reach and retain members on their Medicare Advantage plans.
Relay’s SVP of Healthcare, Dan Sweeney facilitated the engaging conversation with panelists, Lisa Franklin, Director of Product and Marketing Strategy (Government Program) at CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield and Ian Gordon, Independent Healthcare Advisor with more than 25 years of experience in various roles in the US healthcare system. They both shared thoughtful insights on the Medicare populations and programs, calling specific attention to the plethora of digital solutions to help attract and retain these members, especially for Medicare Advantage plans.
Read highlights from the conversation below and if you are interested in watching the entire webinar, click on the video above.
We are at a point in history where there has never been a larger population of Americans “aging in” to Medicare. Leading edge boomers, ages 65-74, have paved the way for a new wave of trailing edge boomers, ages 55-64, who are even more digitally savvy than their predecessors. During the discussion, Gordon remarked, “Everybody’s been involved in technology. Through COVID, everybody’s had to learn how to use technology. I think the real key then is the ease and level of engagement that your technology presents.” Regardless of age, digital has emerged primary way to connect with health payer members today.
Kicking off the conversation, Dan Sweeney shared some eye-opening stats. First, health payers can lose up to 80% of their members upon aging into Medicare. And according to a recent McKinsey study, the lifetime value of a Medicare Advantage member is over three times that of a large group number and almost 10 times that of an individual member. The question then begs, how are health payers meeting the digital preferences and acumen of these trailing edge boomers to retain them, especially given their high lifetime value?
Health payers can lose up to 80% of their members upon aging into Medicare.
Members have little choice when it comes to employer-sponsored health plans. As Gordon shared, “I refer to you as an indentured member because you don’t have a choice to go to a plan that you want to if the employer’s not offering it.” Whereas for Medicare and Medicare Advantage, members can shop around for the best option, which affords a great opportunity for their existing plans to create awareness around their Medicare Advantage offerings and provide a seamless transition for their aging in population to retain them as Medicare Advantage members.
And doing this early and often makes a big difference. Gordon remarked, “If you’re thinking about trying to retain a 64-year-old or a 65-year-old aging in person into Medicare Advantage, and it’s the first time you’re engaging and thinking about that, it’s too late, whether you use digital and whatever source you use. Because the time [to engage] is all along through their membership.” Franklin and Gordon discussed the history of the Medicare process and some of the new strategies that payers are doing to drive awareness earlier in the member’s journey with the health payer.
If you’re thinking about trying to retain a 64-year-old or a 65-year-old aging-in person into Medicare Advantage, and it’s really the first time you’re engaging and thinking about that, it’s too late.”Ian Gordon, on timing for engaging with aging-in Medicare members
Direct mail had been steadfast resource, especially in reaching boomer populations, but given current supply chain issues, health payers have leaned more heavily on digital tools. Franklin notes, “A lot of the research that we’ve always seen has been direct mail. And right now, we’re having a little bit of a supply chain management issue, so we can’t necessarily get things printed fast enough and get them mailed out quick enough either.”
Franklin shared that at CareFirst, they have been taking a page out of retail’s digital customer experience practices from companies like Amazon to optimize the member experience and drive retention of their Medicare Advantage members. “I think a lot of people are used to Amazon and all those other sites where you can click a button, get whatever you need, do what you need to do.” And while Gordon agreed that digital is important, he said “first you have to build the trust with the member, with the person, and then you get the privilege to leverage technology to continue to serve the non-critical components of the service experience.”
Working from the perspective of the member is key to building that trust so that members are more willing to stay as they age-in to Medicare. Gordon remarked, “You’ve got to come from the right to the left. We always think from left to right, retain the member. What’s out here if you’re starting with a happy member and an engaged member on the far right? What do we need to do?” Both Gordon and Franklin agreed that the information that health payers share with their members must be valuable, actionable, and timely in order to make an impact. However, the medium by which that information is delivered was up for debate.
Franklin and Gordon both mentioned the influx of tools available today which can be overwhelming for members. Franklin says, “I think we throw a lot of different digital elements at folks: go to a website, use an app, then you’re asking them to create a login so that they can log in to see all of their claims information, explanation of benefits, etc. And so I think, as we start to look at all those different avenues and different elements that we are asking them to do, I think it’s simplifying that.”
“If it’s easy, if they can get the information, if it’s useful to them, nudges them to take action or prevents them from having to take an action, folks are going to come there. They are absolutely going to get there.”Ian Gordon, on how to engage members and create awareness around Medicare Advantage options
Making things as easy as possible for members in the digital space, especially during this transitional life stage, is paramount to driving higher retention of those members. Health payers need to use the information and data that they have to create a seamless experience from a commercial plan to Medicare Advantage plan. As Gordon stated, “If it’s easy, if they can get the information, if it’s useful to them, nudges them to take action or prevents them from having to take an action, folks are going to come there. They are absolutely going to get there.”
So, how can health payers make that happen? That’s where Relay comes in. As pioneers of feed technology, we have developed a new format for engaging with members that is familiar and preferred. In fact, when a health payer used a Relay Feed for an ongoing engagement campaign for aging-in members, 68% of members took action to keep the same plan.
If you are interested in learning more about how a Relay Feed can help engage and retain your aging-in member population, reach out here.