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Medicare Mythbusters: 5 Medicare Advantage Insights to Know for Open Enrollment

Male doctor looking over tablet with older patients

Open enrollment season is quickly approaching, and for healthcare consumers, ages 65 and up, Medicare Advantage plans are growing in popularity and changing the health insurance industry business model. Insurers are eager to get members to enroll in their MA plans, but because of the growing competition, it’s best to understand the audience effectively so that they are motivated to enroll in specific plans.

The problem? There are still plenty of myths out there about older members that still permeate insurance marketing. Many of these myths don’t give seniors enough credit and when they’re highlighted in insurer marketing materials, they can backfire instead.

Here are 5 myths about seniors interested in Medicare Advantage plans and how seniors feel in reality.

Myth #1: All Medicare seniors are the same.

Despite popular belief, Medicare Advantage members are not, in fact, the same. Each one has a different set of motivations that propels them to make decisions based on values and beliefs. A consumer segmentation model referred to as psychographic segmentation can identify groups of healthcare consumers with shared values and beliefs for more effective messaging.

Psychographic segmentation has been used for years in the consumer retail industry but has been gaining steam in healthcare in recent years due to the consumerization of healthcare. Under the PatientBond model, Medicare Advantage members fall into one of five segments ranging from most engaged to least engaged on their health.

Self Achiever - 26%

Self Achievers are eager to accomplish their health goals and like to keep track of their progress. They are eager and willing to work with their provider to create a plan to achieve these goals.

Balance Seeker - 11%

Balance Seekers want options and tend to question the expertise of their providers. When going about their health, they like to research on their own to determine their choices and options.

Priority Juggler - 11%

Priority Jugglers are always on the go and put their family’s needs and their work above their own well-being. If they do something about their health, it is with that in mind.

Direction Taker - 19%

Direction Takers seek more support in their health journey from experts. They prefer to have guidance from their provider and look to them to determine the next steps in their care plan.

Willful Endurer - 33%

Willful Endurers aren’t interested in looking ahead in their health journey. They live in the here and now and expect to be instantly rewarded for their efforts.

Many might assume that these segment numbers are also the same for all seniors, but that’s also a myth. Nearly every segment percentage changes when you compare Medicare Advantage with all seniors 65 and older, most of whom are covered by traditional Medicare and supplemental gap insurance. The difference is especially pronounced among the number of Willful Endurers with a third of Medicare Advantage members being in the segment versus 21% for all consumers 65 and older.

Psychographic Segments

Self Achievers

Balance Seekers

Priority Jugglers

Direction Takers

Willful Endurers

Medicare Advantage

26%

11%

11%

19%

33%

Ages 65+

26%

14%

16%

23%

21%

These insights and others, even payer data outside of Medicare Advantage, can be found in the PatientBond Insights Accelerator™.

Myth #2: Seniors don’t use telehealth or other health technologies.

Despite popular myths, Medicare Advantage members are relatively open to using telehealth. According to PatientBond market research data, 23.7% of Medicare Advantage members have used telehealth/virtual care in the last 12 months, which is slightly higher than the general population at 22.1%. And among segments, Self Achievers and Willful Endurers are more likely to use telehealth among all age groups, not just seniors.

Myth #3: Medicare Advantage seniors don’t use their health insurance company’s app or visit their website.

Again, Medicare Advantage members aren’t against the use of technology. In fact, they are not far off from the general population when it comes to using wearables and apps.

Medicare Advantage Members are as Likely to Use Health/Fitness Apps and Wearables (past 12 months)

General Population

Self Achievers

Balance Seekers

Willful Endurers

Apps

21.6%

22.6%

19.4%

18.5%

Wearables

17.0%

19.6%

20.6%

19.8%

PatientBond market research found that 38.1% of Medicare Advantage members have downloaded a health insurance company app and 77.9% of them are extremely/very satisfied with it. That is notable considering 35.1% of the general population has downloaded a health insurance app and 71.8% of them are extremely/very satisfied with it.

When it comes to health insurance websites, Self Achievers and Willful Endurers were the only segments where the majority visited these websites before choosing their 2022 Medicare Advantage plans. But considering these segments makeup 59% of healthcare consumers combined, it is notable.

Myth #4: Seniors want everything on printed paper.

While print still is used to target healthcare consumers, it’s not always the preferred channel, and that’s the same for Medicare Advantage members. And even then, it depends on the type of communication they’re receiving.

For instance, according to PatientBond market research, Medicare Advantage members prefer email and print when for educational content, but the first preference depends on the segment. For reminders (e.g., appointment reminders, annual checkup reminders, etc.), texts are the top choice but print is the top choice for explaining insurance benefits. However, Willful Endurers are the least likely to prefer print.

Nervous about communication frequency? PatientBond market research shows that the majority of people in all segments feel like they’re getting the right frequency of communications from their provider with Willful Endurers wanting them more frequently than the other segments.

Myth #5: Seniors don’t respond to social media.

It may come as a surprise, but just under 30% of Medicare Advantage members actually look at social media when choosing a health insurance company based, and this is nearly in line with the general population, too. 

Looking at the segments among MA members, Priority Jugglers and Direction Takers are the least likely to use social media, but Self Achievers and Willful Endurers are the most likely to indicate digital media being one of the most impactful factors in choosing their health insurance plan in 2022.

Tools like the PatientBond Insights Accelerator™ are vital to helping providers use data to create engaging and informative messaging to motivate their members.

It’s not too late to boost your Medicare Advantage membership. Learn more about achieving a 7:1 ROI with PatientBond in our case study.


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