The face of Medicare is changing. It’s getting younger. As switching rates decline, and a new Baby Boomer turns 65 every eight seconds, marketers have begun to turn their attention to first time Medicare buyers, commonly called Age-ins. Open your mail or turn on the TV, and you’ll see the shift first hand. To connect with this new demographic, marketers have swapped images of seniors playing cards and counting pills for people biking, throwing dinner parties, and traveling around the world. The industry believes its dollar lies with those aging into Medicare, and it has tapped into that generation’s free-spirited, adventurous mindset in hopes of winning customers.
However, this new direction comes with a hurdle. People are retiring later, which means turning 65 no longer means directly enrolling in Medicare. Bloomberg highlights that senior employment rates have climbed to a 55-year high, and, as a result, Accenture adds that 48% plan to delay Medicare enrollment past age 65. So why are people retiring and enrolling later? The AARP points its finger to money. It recently reported that 48% of Boomers are not financially ready for basic expenses in retirement, and only 10% can expect income from defined-benefit or traditional pension programs. Add to this the sense of satisfaction and identity many Boomers get from employment, and retirement moves further and further toward the horizon.
So what does this mean for Medicare professionals? A new challenge. The task we face isn’t guiding Age-ins to the right plan today – it’s helping them prepare for the right plan tomorrow. Boomers may be retiring later, but that doesn’t mean they’ve pushed Medicare off the table. In fact, Deft reports that eight out of 10 Boomers have begun thinking about plans, regardless when they intend to enroll. At Serum, we have more than 15 years’ experience helping Medicare providers connect with consumers. We’ve started preparing for the new age-in by doing the following:
- Consider the education Age-ins need today: Medicare is complicated – especially when you throw untraditional retirement ages into the mix. That said, it’s never too early to start the conversation. We help Age-ins get clarity and find the best plans for their evolving needs by equipping them with comparison charts and fact sheets on different plans. We take their employment status into consideration by reminding those still in the workforce to compare the costs and benefits of their current group plan against their Medicare options.
- Meet them where they are: Direct mail is a tried-and-true channel, but we need to expand to digital as this highly connected generation reaches enrollment age. DMN3 reports that Boomers spend an average of 27 hours online a week, and 65% of them have a Facebook. Just as values of today’s Age-in have changed, the way they communicate has.
- Prep your data capabilities for a dynamic market place: With everyone planning to enroll at different times, mass communication doesn’t work. At Serum, we’ve built a data environment that manages and tracks all interactions with our Age-ins. It required up-front investment but has paid off in a responsive system that anticipates each Age-in’s unique needs. Not only does it custom-tailor communications to each prospect, but by constantly building on a bank of campaign metrics, we can automatically optimize strategies. It gets sharper as it ages.
The face of Medicare has updated. As Age-in acquisition becomes more competitive, Medicare marketers will also need to update their strategies for guiding prospects to the right plans. Today’s Age-in demands a custom-tailored approach. Brands that fail to adapt risk missing out on the Boomer wave.