The Health Insurance Provider’s Guide to Medicare Open Enrollment

Kicking off on October 15 and extending through December 7, the Annual Medicare Open Enrollment Period (AEP) is an important time for health insurance providers – and often a confusing one for consumers. From Original Medicare and Medicare Advantage to supplemental insurance plans, making sense of the myriad of options available in market today can be challenging.

This October we conducted a Fluent Pulse survey* of over 10K+ US adults, ages 65 and over, to help health insurance providers better understand consumer needs and preferences when it comes to selecting a Medicare plan. The findings reveal why a strong focus on education – especially via the call center channel – will be key to converting Medicare eligible consumers who are dissatisfied with their current coverage, or simply unaware of their options.

Key Findings for Health Insurance Providers

1. High rates of dissatisfaction with current Medicare coverage present an opportunity for providers to convert new customers.

67% of consumers surveyed are not very satisfied with their current Medicare coverage. While widespread dissatisfaction creates an opportunity for providers to position their products as strong alternatives to existing coverage, not all consumers who are unhappy with their plans are apt to make a change.

Overall, 25% of eligible seniors are likely to enroll in or change their Medicare plans this year; and in general, as satisfaction with Medicare coverage decreases, the likelihood to change plans increases. However, our findings reveal that those who are the most dissatisfied with their coverage are also the least likely to change plans, with only 10% very likely to make a switch.

Why are dissatisfied consumers reluctant to make a switch, and what can insurance providers do to help this cohort find the right coverage? Large gaps in education and awareness around open enrollment seem to be a major barrier to entry, along with a general sense of apathy among the most dissatisfied consumers.

2. Education will play a crucial role in engaging those who are dissatisfied with their current coverage or simply unaware of their options.

33% of Medicare eligible seniors are not aware that the Annual Open Enrollment Period occurs between October 15 and December 7, with 35% indicating that they never review or compare their Medicare options. Not only are “very dissatisfied” consumers unlikely to change plans, but they are also the least likely to review their options. With 65% failing to explore alternatives, this group is unhappy with their current Medicare coverage, but also apathetic when it comes to making a change.

The “dissatisfied” group reviews their options more frequently than their peers, with 26% checking in on a monthly basis and 11% comparing plans weekly. And though they may be open to new options and more proactive in their search, their efforts are not always successful. According to our survey results, this group is most likely to have difficulty finding the information they need to make an educated decision (14%), and often struggles to understand the information they do have access to (15%).

3. An experienced team of call center agents will be key to converting seniors who prefer phone conversations over online research.

So what is the best way to educate consumers and guide them through the decision-making process? 18% of Medicare eligible seniors surveyed said that having a phone conversation with an experienced agent is most likely to help them select a health insurance plan, surpassing those who prefer online research by 36%. In fact, those who speak to a live agent are also 121% more likely than those who rely on online research to choose a health insurance place within the same day of starting their search.

When deploying a contact marketing strategy, it is important to be mindful of how and when consumers prefer to communicate with your business – and what they’re ultimately looking to get out of the conversation. If well-executed, a call between a consumer and an experienced insurance agent can lead to more informed purchase decisions – and better business outcomes.

For a more in-depth look at the Fluent Pulse findings discussed in this post, check out our infographic outlining the Medicare buyer’s path to purchase here.

Tips for Health Insurance Providers

Above all else, consumers want to feel confident when making high-consideration purchases. By supporting consumers with the tools and resources they need to understand their options, insurance providers can help Medicare eligible seniors select the best source of coverage based on their individual needs and circumstances.

Understand your audience.

Not all Medicare beneficiaries share the same outlook on the open enrollment process. It’s important to tailor your messaging to address your audiences’ unique pain points. For example – consider the nuances we observed across dissatisfied consumers in our survey:

Very Dissatisfied” Consumers

  • Who They Are: Those who are very dissatisfied with their current coverage, but too frustrated or discouraged to seek out a better option.
  • How to Engage Them: Unhappy with their current plan and perhaps having little faith in the Medicare system, this group is reluctant to explore alternatives. Once you have their attention, assure these consumers that finding better coverage is within their reach and explain how your offering can help to address their frustrations.

“Dissatisfied” Consumers

  • Who They Are: Those who are dissatisfied with their current coverage, willing to make a switch, but struggling to understand their options.
  • How to Engage Them: If the information needed to make an educated decision is difficult to find or understand, this group may become discouraged and give up on their search. As a result, it is important to provide this group with educational materials that clearly outline the benefits of your service and its advantages over other options.

Engage in one-to-one conversations.

The lack of knowledge and motivation around AEP presents the perfect opportunity for providers to educate consumers on what open enrollment is, why they should care, and how they can participate. The call center channel offers an effective means to facilitate these conversations and guide consumers through the decision-making process.

Once you get a consumer on the phone, it’s important to deliver clear communication and efficient service. According to our survey results, coverage is a top priority for consumers (43%), followed by out-of-pocket expenses (27%), and overall cost (20%). Be sure to equip your contact center agents with the in-depth knowledge and training they need to address these areas of interest and drive home the value of your offering.

How Fluent Can Help

With over 25 years of experience in outcome-based digital marketing solutions and call center management, we leverage our team of 1K+ experienced agents to conduct meaningful conversations, verify intent, and match consumers with the Medicare products that best match their needs and preferences. Looking to grow your business with high-intent leads and live call transfers this open enrollment season? Connect with us here to learn how we help health insurance providers engage their target customers and drive conversions.

* This Fluent Pulse survey was conducted online via Fluent’s portfolio of owned and operated media properties. Data was self-reported by 10K+ US adults, ages 65 and over, from 10/7 – 10/11, 2021. Results are specific to the Fluent audience and not reflective of the general US Population.