Segment Seniors, Forrester Tells Medicare Part D Marketers

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To convert Medicare Part D seniors into recipients of standalone prescription drug plans, health plan marketing executives should construct campaigns targeting specific senior segments.

This was a key finding from a report issued by Forrester Research Inc., Cambridge, MA, last month called "The ABCs of Converting Medicare Part D Seniors," by Lynne "Sam" Bishop, a Forrester analyst.

Insurance marketers also should leverage member interactions as inbound marketing opportunities and provide resources and tools to help seniors through their decision-making process, the report said.

Since Medicare Part D's May deadline, 9 million seniors have enrolled in these plans, the report said. For many private health insurers, this inaugural batch of prescription drug plan members represents an attractive new growth opportunity: Potential new enrollees for supplemental health insurance coverage.

"But seniors struggle with healthcare decisions like changing health coverage or carriers, and few trust the advice of an insurer in their decision making," Ms. Bishop said in the report. "Product marketers hoping to take their new enrollees to the next step clearly have their work cut out for them."

The report offered best practices for Part D insurers when embarking on upsell campaigns:

· Instead of simply classifying prospects as "seniors," plan marketers need a segmented view of their new prescription drug plan enrollees.

"A plan taking this approach would build a portfolio of archetypical prospects based on consumers' demographics, technology adoption levels and attitudes and decide, for example, to prioritize younger senior segments with relatively higher income levels and experience purchasing insurance individually," Ms. Bishop said. "As a result, the plan's outbound campaigns would target this senior cohort's active lifestyles and health-empowered attitudes -- and highlight appealing benefit features like broad access to physicians or health and wellness programs."

· Medicare Advantage Plan product marketers should learn from the strategies used in industries such as financial services and offer targeted messages that appeal to members within the context of the interaction. "For example, a senior who calls to investigate whether a diabetes medication is on formulary may, upon receiving a resolution to his or her question, be allowed to opt in to a conversation with a customer service representative about disease management, potentially reducing overall healthcare costs with supplemental coverage," she said.

· When planning campaigns, go beyond messaging and marketing-speak.

"They should build scenarios of how different senior segments might move through the insurance-buying cycle, from awareness that additional coverage is available through enrollment, and ensure that seniors have the necessary support at key touch points," she said.

For example, insurers looking at older senior groups might provide fact sheets, printed questionnaires and dedicated call center resources to help these older prospects work through whether they could reduce health expenses with supplemental coverage. Marketers targeting younger seniors might promote easy-to-use, interactive online decision support that places plan selection in the context of key goals.

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