Consumer / Employer, Payers

Getting Medicare Advantage members to take advantage of plan benefits

One way MA plans can stand out in an increasingly competitive market is by making members aware of the benefits they may not even know they have and encouraging them to use those benefits.

There’s no debating that getting Medicare Advantage members to take action on their health gives them a better chance of improving health outcomes, but successfully doing so can be a considerable challenge.

That said, there is one thing all Medicare Advantage plans should be doing to keep their members healthy and keep their plan visible in an increasingly competitive market: Make members aware of the plan benefits they may not even know they have, and encourage them to use those benefits.

Here are several reasons plans should educate members on plan benefits:

  • It connects members with services that can directly lead to improved health. The overarching goal, of course, is to keep member populations as healthy as possible, which also leads to the benefit of improved health plan financial performance.
  • It builds trust and appreciation among members. Learning about plan benefits and features that they may have otherwise been unaware of can be a pleasant surprise for members, ultimately leading to higher satisfaction and retention levels.
  • It keeps health plans competitive by showcasing the breadth of services they offer. Communicating attractive benefits to members and encouraging trial of these benefits can also lead to positive word-of-mouth referrals, boosting retention and new enrollments.
  • It provides members a positive way to engage with their health plan. Instead of using their insurance card at a doctor or provider’s office, members connect with the health plan for a more positive experience to address their specific needs.

Benefits MA members may not know about

With that backdrop, here is a non-exhaustive list of benefits that many plans offer but that many members might not know they have available to them:

  • Free or reduced-rate broadband internet: Eighty percent of low-income households that qualify for reduced-rate broadband access don’t realize it. Providing members with devices (computers or smartphones), education (walkthroughs and basic training), and support (technical assistance) increases digital access and literacy, giving members a new and easy way to take action on their health.
  • Transportation: A number of Medicare Advantage plans cover non-emergency transportation, including trips to a doctor’s office or clinic. Plans may also cover rideshare services such as Uber or Lyft for transportation to medical appointments or fitness centers.
  • Gym memberships: Gym memberships are often available via Medicare Advantage plans, as is SilverSneakers, a health and fitness program for seniors. These programs can offer online and in-person fitness classes, giving members an array of options to stay in shape.
  • Meal delivery: Home meal delivery is an option with many Medicare Advantage plans, particularly for members with chronic health conditions. Some plans also cover healthy food options and transportation to and from grocery stores.
  • Caregiver and adult daycare services: Ill or disabled adults are eligible for home care services that help them avoid the need to move into a nursing home, while adult daycare services are useful in getting members out and about for the day. In addition, the Program of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly (PACE) offers certain members home and community care services, including adult daycare.

How to get members to take action

It’s one thing to understand how important it is to educate members about the services they have available to them, but it’s quite another to do so effectively, leading to trial and adoption of those benefits. Leading plans not only offer members an attractive list of benefits to utilize, but they also use intelligent engagement strategies to encourage members to take advantage of them.

Plans can keep members active in many different ways, but there are three key things they should keep in mind while doing so:

1. Show members empathy. One thing that has become clear during the two-plus years of the pandemic is that health plans need to fully understand and recognize what their members are going through in order to connect with them effectively.

Plans are a vital connection point between members and their well-being; showing members how a health plan can help meet their very specific needs is a powerful thing. Plans need to demonstrate to members that they are committed to more than just their premiums by focusing on health and safety and giving them the tools and information they need to navigate these still-uncertain times.

2. Optimize engagement with members. There is a lot involved in optimizing member communications, but communication doesn’t equal action. One of the key ways to optimize engagement is to get members the most relevant information using the communication vehicles they prefer at the right time and with the right message.

Communication channels vary by member and including everything from text messages and email to traditional mail, live agents and IVR. Getting into a communications groove that respects member preferences goes a long way toward creating and building trust and satisfaction.

3. Don’t assume one size fits all. Plans that engage with every member in the exact same way—a mass text message or physical mailer, for example⁠—will see a low return on investment. Instead, predictive analytics and rules engines can be used to identify a member’s preferred channel (such as a phone call, text message or email) and how often to communicate with each individual to create the best chance that they will take action.

Competition in the Medicare Advantage space is fierce. Attracting new members and keeping existing ones enrolled are challenges that every plan deals with. Informing members about services they may not know they have access to and doing so with an effective engagement strategy is a winning combination that gives plans the best possible chance at success.

Photo: designer491, Getty Images