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Insurers need to aim higher in targeting individuals for Medicare coverage

Plans may be losing out on millions in missing the 20- to 40-percent of buyers who are not ready to sign up for Medicare at age 65.

Susan Morse, Managing Editor

Health plans are losing millions in revenue because they're missing those Americans who are shopping for Medicare well after the age of 65, according a report from consultant Accenture.

Insurers' current approaches to Medicare marketing are obsolete because these efforts stop after the individual turns age 65, according to the report. But more Americans are retiring later and 48 percent of those surveyed say they will also delay enrolling in Medicare.

Plans may be missing 20- to 40-percent of buyers who are not ready to sign up for Medicare coverage.

When each Medicare Advantage member is worth close to $11,000 in government premium reimbursement a year, health plans that don't change their marketing efforts could lose millions, the report said.

For instance, a health plan that has 100,000 annual members aging into Medicare, could get an additional $85 million in annual revenue by capturing late enrollees who are over 66 years old. 

"Medicare acquisition marketing to age-ins is traditionally done via linear channels," the report said, "and outreach efforts come to a halt if consumers don't opt in by their 65th birthday."

There are several reasons why individuals are delaying the move to Medicare. One is that the full retirement age to receive the full benefits of Social Security is now 66 years and two months. Others may be waiting for a spouse covered under their plan to retire before opting to leave employment and its commercial coverage.

Health plans need to engage all consumers prior to age 65 to allow them to indicate their retirement plans.

Insurers need to let future Medicare members know that when they are ready, they have an insurance partner.

Insurers also need to reach out digitally, as 62 percent of people nearing Medicare age say they would be willing to share their health information with their health insurer through mobile devices, including wearables.

An estimated 53 percent of those nearing retirement age go online to shop for Medicare. Insurers may also be missing just how many older Americans use digital tools, the report said.

Research also shows that older individuals who are connected to technology and more likely to track their physical activity, monitor blood pressure and cholesterol. Insurers should not lose these healthier potential enrollees.

"These self-managing customers are just the type that a health plan wants in the new value-driven payment world," the authors said.

An estimated third of Medicare beneficiaries are in private health plans run by insurance companies such as UnitedHealthcare, Humana, Anthem and Centene. Enrollment in private health plans is only expected to rise as the government pays insurers to provide coordinated services and coverage in value-based care initiatives.

This is a huge market, as an average of 10,000 people each day turn  65. The total number of the Medicare-eligible population is expected to be 80 million by 2030.

The study of 2,301 consumers assessed the attitudes toward retirement, healthcare technology modernization and service innovation.

Twitter: @SusanJMorse
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