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Direct Mail Tactics from 2014 AEP Enrollment Winners

• Author: Healthcare Team

Medicare AEP direct mail marketing packages

According to CMS, the biggest enrollment gains during Medicare’s 2014 Annual Election Period (AEP) come from Humana (+373,905), UnitedHealthcare (+285,519), Aetna (+159,522), Kaiser Permanente (+85,143) and Health Net Inc. (+41,550). With some help* from Competiscan, we took a look at some of the direct mail packages utilized by each of these insurers.

Together, they offer some insight into “what worked” when it came to attracting new members.

Leading with $0 plan premiums
Many of the direct mail packages emphasized $0 premiums, which isn’t a surprise. In fact, in 2013, most of the top 10 winners promoted $0 plans. So this year, if a $0 premium plan was available, the insurer used it to entice prospects. In one of Humana’s pieces, for example, we counted 11 mentions of “zero” on a single panel.

AEP_humana_11 zeroes

Promoting credibility and expertise
In addition to $0 premium plans, many of the mailers from the top plans focused on insurer credibility and expertise. Language and images in Humana’s direct mail pieces featured its 4.5 STAR rating, its experience (50 years in healthcare; 25 years in Medicare) and its size (2.8 million Medicare Advantage members; 6.6 million Medicare members). UnitedHealthcare leveraged its partnership with AARP, which, of course, comes along with a great deal of consumer trust and loyalty.

AEP_united health_with aarp

And to attract new members during 2014 AEP, Kaiser Permanente leaned on STAR ratings, declaring, when it could, that it was the “highest-rated Medicare health plan” in the state (or states) targeted by the direct mail piece.

AEP_kaiser_great care great value

AEP_kaiser_five stars

Getting personal
In our sampling of direct mail pieces from the top five gainers this year, we noticed two insurers getting up close and personal with prospects. For example, Aetna’s creative was very playful. Not only did its images and copy have the feel of storytelling (utilizing lifestyle vignettes over benefits and rates), but its calls to action were far from traditional with language like “Let’s be wildly predictable” and “Let’s not waste a minute” versus “call now.” And Health Net’s creative stressed that the insurer knows its customers as “more than” Medicare beneficiaries.

AEP_aetna_wildly predictable

AEP_healthnet_best friend

Insurers rely on similar tactics as they try to acquire new Medicare customers (consider, for example, how many “time is running out” mailers individuals receive as the enrollment deadline nears). And so the question becomes, “How do you differentiate yourself from your competitors?”

Three of the insurers on this list – Humana, Kaiser and UnitedHealthcare – took a “just the facts, ma’am” approach to direct mail, letting their premiums, ratings and experience speak for them. On the other hand, Aetna and Health Net got quite a bit more personal with their messaging, perhaps in an attempt at early relationship building.

Interestingly, when growth is calculated for this group by percentages instead of members, Aetna and Health Net take the lead:

  • Health Net, +17%;
  • Aetna, +15%;
  • Humana, +13%;
  • UnitedHealthcare, +9%; and
  • Kaiser Permanente, +7%.

*Direct mail communications (screenshots) sourced from Competiscan, a full-service, competitive intelligence market research firm. Competiscan enables clients to study marketing and loyalty strategies by industry, company, product or recipient demographic.  Media channels tracked include direct mail, email, online display, social media and print. Competiscan clients utilize a web-based search facility to understand what consumers, business owners, financial advisors and insurance producers are viewing in the marketplace.


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