Current approaches to Medicare marketing are obsolete, and two fundamental shifts make it so. Americans are retiring later and close to half (48 percent) say they will delay Medicare enrollment beyond age 65—and this group is more digital-dependent than many insurers give them credit for. In fact, more than half (53 percent) will go online to shop for Medicare when they near eligibility.1 Health plans facing this one-two punch of changes must fundamentally rethink how they market to Medicare consumers, or they will miss a major opportunity to tap a market that is not only stable, it’s growing.

An average of 10,000 people turn 65 and become newly Medicare-eligible per day.2 And there’s more to come. The total number of people eligible for Medicare is projected to grow to 80 million by 2030.3 In a competitive environment where each new Medicare Advantage member is worth close to $11,000 in government premium reimbursement per year, improved marketing performance can mean hundreds of millions in revenue increases for health plans over time. For example, for a plan that has 100,000 annual age-ins in its service area, improving conversion rates by capturing late enrollees over 66 years old and providing a more relevant experience could mean $85 million in additional revenue in a year. (See Figure 1.)

However, according to Accenture analysis, health plans are missing this opportunity by not delivering tools and experiences that address the social realities and digital intensity of consumers aging in to Medicare eligibility.

Impact of capturing late enrollees over 66 years old is worth $11,000 in government premium reimbursement per year & increases impact on sales conversion rate by 25%.

Figure 1: Potential revenue impact of improving conversion rates among those age 66+ (Source: Accenture analysis)

Reaching the ready or not

Medicare acquisition marketing to age-ins is traditionally done via linear channels, and outreach efforts come to a halt if consumers don’t opt in by their 65th birthday. With this approach, plans are missing the chance to reach the 20 to 40 percent of buyers who are “not ready.” (See Figure 2.) Instead, health plans should focus on addressing the unique needs and circumstances of all new-to-Medicare individuals.

People are delaying retirement and sticking with their group insurance for a variety of reasons. The Social Security “full retirement age” (with maximum benefit) is 66 and two months incenting people to work beyond age 65. Some receiving medical coverage through their employer might keep it to cover a spouse who is not yet eligible for Medicare. Others may simply want to work longer to add to their nest egg. Insurers shouldn’t lose sight of these individual realities among customers. Furthermore, health plans should engage all consumers prior to age 65 and allow them to indicate their retirement plans. Knowing this will inform outreach efforts.

Self-reported Retirement Age Intention at 62 = 11%. At 66 = 17%. At 70 or older = 18%.

Figure 2: Late retirees are a ripe potential market for health plans (Source: Deft Research, 2017 Medicare Age-In Study)

Digital advantages

Insurers should aim to deliver the digital experiences that consumers today want and expect. Digital is the channel through which people of all ages learn, shop and buy. Nearly two-thirds (64 percent) of internet users 55-64 years old made at least one digital purchase in the past year.4 And 70 percent of people nearing Medicare age report going online to perform at least one health activity in the last year.5 Many are comfortable sharing significant health and lifestyle-related information. For instance, 62 percent of people nearing Medicare age say they would be willing to share key health information from mobile devices (including wearables) with their health insurer.6

When healthcare consumers are willing to share information, health plans can use the data to build a “genome” about individuals based on their retirement intentions and other information. This data arms health plans to deliver digital experiences that are increasingly personalized because the experience and messaging adapt to the data imprint and intent of the user. Insurers can explore this approach by testing a personalized experience that accounts for retirement intention and measuring the engagement metrics of a test group against a control.

Act on the opportunity

There is a new reality in Medicare. Consumers are retiring later, and they are more digital than ever. First movers that capture this fast-growing audience have a substantial revenue opportunity at their fingertips. Health plans should move quickly to:

Reset their approach to “Ready now/Ready later.” Rather than linearly going after those about to turn 65, health plans must address the existence and value of later buyers with equal vigor. Those who adapt quickly will gain a first-mover advantage.

Put digital at the center of engagement. New-to-Medicare consumers are using digital in health more than ever, and adoption will continue to grow. Connect with them through their preferred channel.

Personalize the digital journeys. The life situations of individuals reaching Medicare age are all different. Use data to deliver relevant content and become a valued and respected resource.

This audience is here to stay. It is only set to grow. Health plans can take advantage by taking the right approach to connecting with this important and growing segment.

1 Deft Research, 2017 Medicare Age-In Study, Accessed August 10, 2017

2 Pew Research Center, “Baby Boomers Retire.”, December 29, 2010

3 Kaiser Family Foundation, “Projected Change in Medicare Enrollment, 2010-2050”, July 15, 2013

4 eMarketer, Data: US Digital Buyer Penetration, by Age, 2017 (% of population), January 1, 2017

5 Accenture 2018 Consumer Survey on Digital Health, March 6, 2018

6 Ibid

Tristan Sather

Business Strategy Manager – Accenture Strategy, Health


Seniors want digital medicare
The race for Medicare switchers is on

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