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Outdated Medicare Marketing Strategies Likely to Cost Health Plans Millions

News  |  By Philip Betbeze  
   May 23, 2018

Close to half of Americans say they will delay Medicare enrollment beyond age 65, yet most health plan marketing efforts halt if patients don't opt in before their 65th birthday.

Health plans are likely forgoing millions in potential revenue by halting marketing efforts to potential Medicare enrollees if they don't opt in by their 65th birthday.

A survey by professional services company Accenture shows that 48% of Americans plan to delay Medicare enrollment past the age of 65, and health plans that fail to rethink how they market to this growing cohort will likely miss a huge opportunity.

The survey of 2,301 consumers showed that:

  • 48% of consumers intend to delay Medicare enrollment beyond the age of 65
  • 70% of those nearing Medicare age have performed at least one health activity online
  • 53% say they will shop for their Medicare plan online

With each new Medicare Advantage enrollee worth about $11,000 in government premium reimbursement per year, improved marketing performance can lead to hundreds of millions in revenue increases for health plans over time, the company says. For example, for a plan that has 100,000 annual age-ins in its service area, improving conversion rates by capturing late enrollees (those more than 66 years of age) could mean as much as $85 million in additional yearly revenue.

Many factors are causing people to delay entering Medicare, but an important one is that the Social Security "full retirement age" with maximum benefit is 66 years and two months.

According to Accenture, health plans should focus their marketing efforts on the older-than-65 age group by:

  1. Resetting their approach to later entrants: Rather than catering to those about to turn 65 in a traditional linear manner, health plans should address the existence and value or later buyers with equal vigor. Those who adapt quickly will gain a first-mover advantage.
  2. Making "digital" the center of engagement: New-to-Medicare consumers are using digital more often, and health plans often underestimate their digital prowess. Some 70% of people nearing Medicare age have gone online to perform at least one health activity in the past year. Also, generally, they are a healthier subset of consumers.
  3. Personalizing those digital journeys: The life situations of those reaching Medicare age are markedly different, so health plans would be wise to use data offered by potential enrollees to personalize the enrollment experience by delivering personally relevant content, thus becoming a valued and respected resource.

Philip Betbeze is the senior leadership editor at HealthLeaders.

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