The waves of change for Medicare Advantage

The waves of change for Medicare Advantage
Over the past decade, a wave of Medicare Advantage plans—the private plan alternatives to the traditional government program—rolled in as the high tide in the Medicare space. Today, there are more than 26 million beneficiaries enrolled in a Medicare Advantage plan, offered through one of the 3,500 plans available throughout the U.S. Each year the enrollment in Medicare Advantage rises, with no decline in sight, triggering billions in investments into this booming market.

By 2030, the entire baby-boomer generation will be 65 or older. As the healthcare industry prepares for the incoming wave of baby boomers, born between 1946 and 1964, there are noticeable differences within the age bands. Knowing their characteristics, attitudinal differences, and what they expect from their healthcare providers will impact how you target and communicate with them as individuals.

Unique characteristics within the baby boomer age bands

  • Ages 65-69: This segment’s main priority is health maintenance. Look to highlight the importance of preserving their health as they age by focusing on prevention topics, wellness incentives, healthy eating recipes, and stress management as many may still be working.

  • Ages 70-75: Many in this segment are diagnosed with a chronic disease—prediabetes is especially common in this age bracket. Communications should emphasize disease management programs or new disease findings that provide helpful knowledge to this population. Inform them of where they can stay involved in their community through social activities—some even led by health insurance brokers—and expand their awareness around caregiving and home health options.

  • Ages 76 and older: At this stage, it is helpful to underscore the importance of benefits, coverage, and potential savings. Members at this age visit a doctor an average of nine times per year. Additionally, highlight the care management and virtual or in-home options available, behavioral health and pharmacy medication therapy management (MTM) programs, and end-of-life or hospice coverage.

According to a 2020 J.D. Power study, despite the significant positive effect on member satisfaction, just 15% of Medicare Advantage plans deliver relative to all three key information and communication performance indicators they identified – making sure members fully understand their out-of-pocket costs; providing health education; and delivering useful reminders for preventive services. This gap amplified during the COVID-19 pandemic as consumers are 3.3 times more likely to receive helpful communication from their bank than from their health plan. Plans that invest in improving member information and communications increased their Net Promoter Scores by an average of 10 points.

The same study finds that while the majority of Medicare members still prefer communication via phone, nearly a third of members surveyed indicated that they prefer email, text, website, or apps as a vehicle for communication. Providers might also note this significant factor to inform how they engage and interact with their members with an increasing number of seniors activating digital channels, this study noted that 94% of seniors use the internet every day. A 2020 Media Logic survey of senior media habits might provide more insight into that online activity, finding that 88% of seniors use social media daily with 93% of seniors active on Facebook, 25% using Twitter, and 33% on Instagram.

For any Medicare Advantage plan provider, executing a successful communication engagement formula significantly improves overall customer satisfaction, advocacy, and retention. In the J.D. Power study, which measures customer service, provider choice, information and communication, coverage and benefits, and billing and payment, Kaiser Foundation Health Plan ranked the highest on MA plan overall satisfaction followed by Highmark and Cigna HealthSpring.

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Meet the author
  1. Leah Sheveland, Partner, Healthcare

    Healthcare Leader with over 15 years of management experience. Specialized in leading cross-functional teams in the areas of payer operations, Medicare Advantage, retail health expansion, and strategy definition. View bio

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