Medicare Revamp Increases Insurance Mailers to Agents

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More than 1,000 direct mail campaigns from insurance companies regarding healthcare marketing were sent to their independent agents or brokers between September 2004 and September 2005, according to data released yesterday from Mintel International Group's Comperemedia, a Chicago-based media monitoring system.


That number is up from 500-plus such mailings sent from insurance companies to their agents/brokers from September 2003 to September 2004.


The increase stems from two issues, according to Comperemedia.


One is a new prescription drug benefit known as the Medicare Part D plan, which takes effect Jan. 1. The Medicare Prescription Drug, Improvement and Modernization Act of 2003 created the plan, and the government is spending $100 million to inform the public about it this year.


Medicare Part D will let current Medicare recipients pay a premium (in addition to current Medicare costs) to acquire the additional insurance. This new option helps supplement the limited drug options available through the general Medicare plan.


According to Mintel's 2005 report "Attitudes Towards Health Care and Pharmaceuticals," Medicare covers 96 percent of older U.S. adults.


Enrollment for Medicare Part D will be under way from Nov. 15, 2005, through May 15, 2006.


Insurance companies sent more than 100 campaigns involving Medicare Part D to their independent agents or brokers from September 2004 to September 2005, Comperemedia said, and that number is likely to grow.


"The addition of Medicare Part D as a new prescription drug option is going to make a significant difference in the business landscape for key healthcare and pharmaceutical providers," said Reagan Shea, regional director for Comperemedia. "Companies are positioning Medicare Part D as a prime sales opportunity for many industry brokers."


Also, the growth in the aging population means prescription drug coverage needs have risen substantially, Comperemedia said. According to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, prescription drug sales rose from $85 billion in 1997 to $162 billion in 2002.


The other reason for the increase in mailings is the growth of Health Savings Accounts, which were created by the Medicare bill and designed to help individuals save for future qualified medical and retiree health expenses on a tax-free basis. According to Comperemedia, 631 campaigns were sent from September 2004 to September 2005 to promote HSAs.


Melissa Campanelli covers postal news, CRM and database marketing for DM News and DMNews.com. To keep up with the latest developments in these areas, subscribe to our daily and weekly e-mail newsletters by visiting www.dmnews.com/newsletters


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