Tag Archives: benefits enrollment

Benefit changes can drive Medicare Advantage enrollment

In a new analysis, Milliman’s Chris Kunkel and Jordan Pettibon found that Medicare Advantage (MA) members’ behavior is related to benefits that appear on detailed plan summaries and that members take into account more than what they initially see when selecting a plan on the Medicare Plan Finder. While the impact of supplemental benefits on enrollment is not as strong as the impact of the primary driver benefits like PCP copay, Medicare Advantage organizations should be aware of the effect of changing benefits when trying to optimize the most visible ones.

Enrollment considerations for new Medicare Advantage organizations

Enrollment growth is one of the most important considerations in the early years of a startup Medicare Advantage (MA) organization (MAO). Enrollment affects an MAO’s revenue and profitability and is a key driver to becoming successful. For these reasons, enrollment projections are a critical component of a new MAO’s financial pro forma. However, enrollment assumptions are difficult to develop, especially for a new MAO without any prior experience.

To better inform enrollment expectations for new MAOs, Milliman’s Kelly Backes and Julia Friedman analyzed historical enrollment experience for parent organizations new to the MA market from 2007 to 2018. They summarized results annually from an MAO’s initial startup year to its seventh year of operations (where available) and segmented this experience by population type and size.

They found:

  1. Enrollment increased with maturity, but varied widely.
  2. General enrollment organizations achieved the largest initial enrollment.
  3. Small organizations achieved significant growth with maturity.

To read more of their findings, read their article here.

Seven simple steps to a stress-free enrollment

When it comes to open enrollment, communication matters. But is it working? Many employers don’t think so. A recent survey by the International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans found that 80% of organizations think employees don’t open or read materials. And 49% think employees don’t understand the content. So what’s the solution? Try these tips to get your messages across.

1. Look at last year. Consider the feedback you got on last year’s campaign. Which communication pieces resonated? Which fell flat? Take a look at the questions employees raised and work those into your materials for this year.

2. Define success and then measure it. Determine what a successful campaign looks like. What are your goals? Do you want a certain number of employees to enroll in a medical plan or use the online tools? After enrollment, look at the numbers and gather employee feedback via focus groups or an online survey to guide future campaigns.

3. Cut the clutter. People don’t want to weed through a 50-page brochure to find information. Remember that readers are used to quickly scanning an article for the high points. Break up paragraphs into bullet points, pull important details into callouts, and use infographics in place of long-winded narratives.

4. Know your purpose. Start with what you want your communication piece to do and let that drive the format. For example, if you want to educate, use FAQs and examples. If you want to inspire employees, feature testimonials.

5. Use straight talk. Don’t try to sugarcoat change messages. Clearly explain what’s happening, why it’s happening, and when it’s happening. Change can be hard, but you have to be honest with employees to earn their trust.

6. Start early and communicate often. Give employees a heads-up early on, especially if you’re making major plan design changes. Announce key dates, such as when enrollment will be and when employee meetings will be held. As the deadline approaches, remind employees to take action.

7. Go for variety. Reach your employees with a variety of media to appeal to generational and personal preferences. For example, if you’re explaining a new high-deductible health plan, you might mail employees a print piece to their homes, post a video online, and walk through the new plan at employee meetings.

If you need additional support, be sure to talk with your Milliman communication consultant.

This article first appeared on RetirementTownHall.com.