CMS is creating new Medicare marketing opportunities for 2019. Will you be ready?

In our 20 years of marketing and advertising Medicare Plans and Provider Groups, CMS has rarely given us cause for excitement, but here we are, rubbing our hands together.

The rules of the game are changing again, and if you haven’t already started, you’ll need to be ready to quickly prepare your sales and marketing strategy to take off on what will likely be a short runway once the final Medicare Communication and Marketing Guidelines are released.

A return to the Open Enrollment “Switch” Period (OEP), emailing Medicare prospects, distributing sales contact information at educational events, member referral incentives, and supplemental benefits are offering some very interesting creative opportunities for Medicare marketers.

As we’ve heard, CMS is doing away with the Disenrollment Period that ran from January 1st through February 14th, and will return to the Open Enrollment Period (OEP).

Many of us who were around, remember the OEP “Switch” period from January 1st through March 31st as an opportunity to add significant enrollments before prospects were locked in. However, while the current law prohibits “unsolicited marketing and mailing marketing materials” to consumers to exploit the OEP, it allows for education. And, until Medicare issues final guidance on marketing to the “Switcher” audience, marketers need to develop their thinking around a range of strategic and tactical directions for both member acquisition and retention.

Prospect referrals are golden, as is CMS’s thinking around compensating enrollees for offering them. It appears CMS will be allowing Medicare plans to offer incentives in exchange for referrals. Plus, as an added bonus, referrals may also include email addresses, which highlights another big opportunity - permitting email marketing for 2019.

While we’re known as a forward-thinking healthcare agency, we are taking a look back.

We’re revisiting some of the strategies and tactics from our most successful campaigns around OEP, Member Retention, Collateral Sales Devices, Value-Added Benefits and Incentives to get the creative juices flowing early. As mentioned, we anticipate a short runway after CMS releases the final guidance and we want our client’s creative to be ready for take-off, as we expect the competition’s certainly will be.