The Human Touch and Why It Matters to Gain MA Patients
Written by: Nicole King
In today’s digitally-centric world, it’s sometimes easy to lose sight of how older generations continue to consume news and information. Not everyone wakes up, immediately grabs their smartphone and starts to browse the web and Facebook in search of the trending topics. Instead, many Americans walk to the end of the driveway to grab the newspaper or simply turn on the TV to catch the latest news broadcast. These fundamental disparities are reflected in the way different generations shop and make purchasing decisions. And this includes health insurance.
Be That Trusted Resource
Do you recall the last time you enrolled in health insurance and didn’t have a trusted resource to help you along the way? Typically, employers work to provide an onsite insurance broker to assist their employees through the process and answer any questions. So, wouldn’t it make sense to support those eligible for Medicare in the same way? This is even more critical for our senior population whose livelihood may depend on being enrolled in the correct plan.
According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, seniors are frustrated by the sheer volume of information they receive as they near Medicare eligibility and unsure of how to dig through the clutter.  This leaves them feeling lost, confused and unclear on the necessary steps to take. Subsequently, they often turn to trusted resources like insurance agents, seminar speakers, plan representatives and their medical care team. This provides the perfect opportunity to step in as that trusted resource and steer the dialogue in the direction of the benefits of a Medicare Advantage (MA) plan. Make sure your medical team is equipped to educate patients about Medicare Advantage, answer questions and refer the patient to a broker for more information. Also, organize and invite your patients to events that serve to apprise seniors on Medicare enrollment and the different options available to them.
Human Assistance Matters
Due to the influx of information and resources made available to seniors during the period of Medicare eligibility, it’s possible some seniors didn’t utilize human assistance when making their initial decision. But even if a senior is already enrolled in Medicare, there may be an opportunity to help them switch their plan. As reported by Deft Research, those who relied exclusively on shopping through self-service channels switched at a rate of only 4%, while those who sought human assistance channels switched at a rate of 13%.  Even more interesting, those individuals who used a combination of both self-service and human assistance channels had the highest propensity to switch at 21%. With the understanding that seniors are consuming information through a variety of channels, this supports the integrated approach that many medical groups and health insurance companies are not utilizing.
Medicare is complicated enough and when you add another layer to it such as Medicare Advantage plans, it can become too overwhelming for seniors to understand and fully grasp. While websites, brochures, and direct mail are helpful tools that can provide the basics, nothing replaces the benefits of human interaction. Talking to seniors in person about Medicare Advantage and answering specific questions is an invaluable opportunity to build a relationship in addition to helping them navigate the system. Ensure your medical team, patient services team, and payer partners are available and engaged when seniors seek out this human touch.
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