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Medicare AEP 2021: A Closer Look at Direct Mail Calls to Action (CTAs)

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hc insights - Direct Mail Calls to Action (CTAs)

We already knew that the 2021 Medicare Annual Election Period (AEP) would be an unusual selling season due to several factors – some anticipated at the start of 2020 (the presidential election) and others not (the impact and duration of the COVID-19 pandemic). But as they say in show business “the show must go on” – Medicare consumers only have the AEP period to shop and switch their benefits for the upcoming year, and Medicare marketers must put together strategic plans to help reach prospects and grow market share.

Here at Media Logic, the Healthcare Marketing Team is constantly keeping a pulse on all things Medicare, including marketing tactics used by health insurers. Direct mail continues to be at the foundation of many campaigns and a key funnel for lead generation. This year, we decided to compile a list of all calls-to-action (CTAs) and offers used by Medicare marketers throughout the 2021 AEP. We reviewed Medicare acquisition direct mail pieces from across the country – tracked and reported by Mintel – received September through November. We want to see if the CTAs shifted throughout the 2021 AEP. Here some observations:

  • There are a lot of CTAs encouraging consumers to request literature in September and October, but by November, CTAs are mostly to contact sales. This makes sense as the consumer nears the deadline, health plans will want to encourage engagement with sales.
  • Request literature and register for a meeting are still dominant CTAs.
  • Most of the offers are gift card based, which makes sense. According to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) “nominal gifts may not be in the form of cash or other monetary rebates even if their worth is $15 or less.” Gift cards are perceived as high value and still within CMS regulations. Because cash bank cards are similar in nature to cash, some health plans may be reluctant to use them, but they seem to be a popular option.
  • There are still quite a few health plans that don’t use direct, specific CTAs – instead they go with broad-based CTAs like call for more information. Direct response marketing best practices would indicate that consumers are more likely to act when marketers use more explicit, tangible CTAs.

Ultimately, our review found quite a bit of similarity across CTAs, but we felt that Medicare marketers might be interested in a full list of CTAs and offers. You can scroll through the tables below for a monthly snapshot.  

September 2021

BrandCTAOffer (if any)
Aetna Medicare Solutions• Call licensed agent to learn more
• Visit website to learn more
Call to learn more and receive a $10 Visa gift card.
Anthem BlueCross BlueShield• Call for free informationN/A
BlueCross BlueShield of CA• Call or visit website to learn moreN/A
BlueCross BlueShield of MA• Call
• Visit online
• Attend a free live online Medicare seminar
• Request free Plan Comparison Guide via BRC
N/A
BlueCross BlueShield of Nebraska• Call or visit website to learn moreN/A
Cigna• Call one of our Benefit Advisors to learn moreCall and receive two free fitness belt sets with no obligation to enroll.
Devoted Health Plans• Call for a free Medicare consult
• Take the Health Plan Checkup included in direct mail package
Get a $10 Visa gift card with your free Medicare consult.
EmblemHealth• Fill out BRC Get a free tote bag when you request a Medicare Made Simple guide via BRC.
Health Net• Call to request free Medicare Info Guide
• Visit website to join/attend a virtual/in person seminar
N/A
Humana• Call to enroll with a Humana sales agent
• Request a free 2021 Humana Medicare Decision Guide
N/A
Independence BlueCross BlueShield• Request Smart Solutions guide via phone, BRC, onlineRequest guide and be entered to win a $240 Blue Apron meal delivery gift card.
Kaiser Permanente• Talk to a Kaiser Permanente Medicare specialist
• Attend a live neighborhood webinar
• Request a FREE Kaiser Permanente Guide to Medicare
N/A

October 2021

BrandCTAOffer (if any)
BlueCross BlueShield of MA• Call
• Visit online
• Attend a free live online Medicare seminar
• Request free Plan Comparison Guide via BRC
N/A
BlueCross BlueShield of SC• Call Medicare specialist
• Visit website
• Register for virtual community meeting
N/A
Capital Blue Medicare• Call to learn more and request a free info kitCall to claim free $15 Walmart gift card
Cigna• Call
• Visit website
• Request free Plan Comparison Guide via BRC
N/A
Essence Healthcare• Call to request info kit and/or reserve a timeslot for an in-person or virtual meeting
• Visit website to RSVP to community meeting
Call to request a free information kit and receive a $15 Schnucks gift card.
Florida Blue Medicare• Call to learn more
• Visit website
• Register for virtual event
N/A
Freedom Health• Call to speak with licensed benefit consultantGet a $10 gift card when you complete a virtual presentation.
Highmark BlueCross BlueShield• Call to hear about their Medicare plansTake a phone survey to get a $10 Walmart gift card.
Humana• Call to speak to licensed sales agent to learn moreN/A
Kaiser Permanente• Call to schedule a personal appointment
• Attend live neighborhood webinar
• Request a FREE Kaiser Permanente Guide to  Medicare
N/A
UPMC for Life• Call to learn more and request free information kit
• Visit online to register for virtual Medicare meeting or in-person
• Visit a Service and Sales Center
$15 Visa gift card when you call.
WellCare• Call to request All-In-One Guide
• Visit website for more information and to register for virtual events
N/A

November 2021

BrandCTAOffer (if any)
AARP from UnitedHealthcare• Call to learn more
• Visit website
N/A
Advent Health• Call to learn moreSchedule and complete a phone consultation and receive a $10 Publix gift card.
Aetna Medicare Solutions• Call a licensed agent to enroll
• Visit website to sign up for a live, local Medicare seminar
Call to learn more and receive a $10 Visa gift card.
Anthem BlueCross BlueShield• Call to learn more
• Visit website
N/A
BlueCross BlueShield of CA • Call to enroll
• Visit website to register for free Medicare webinar
Get a $10 Amazon gift card when you call us for a free Medicare presentation by phone or attend a free Medicare webinar. 
BlueCross BlueShield of Rhode Island• Call to learn more
• Visit website
Free E-Cookbook when you call or visit online. 
Cigna• Call to request Medicare Guide
• Visit online to request Medicare Guide
N/A
Florida Blue Medicare• Call to learn more
• Visit website
N/A
Health First Health Plans• Call to learn moreRegister for a phone consultation and receive a $10 gift card upon completion of the consultation.
Highmark BlueCross BlueShield• Call to speak with a Licensed Medicare AdvisorCall to learn more and receive a free Highmark umbrella with a matching tote bag.
Kaiser Permanente• Call to learn more
• Visit website
• Contact your broker
N/A
UCare• Call or visit website to sign up for an online Medicare Meeting or request a free plan information kitAttend online meeting, fill out email survey and be automatically entered to win a $25 gift card. 

Check back with us in a few weeks for our annual review of marketing campaign highlights from the past year’s AEP.

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