Heading into 2021 AEP, Medicare marketers had serious concerns about two potential disruptions: the presidential election, and the COVID-19 pandemic. Both of these set the stage for a challenging and irregular selling season (to say the very least). In an effort to get a read on how much these external forces were impacting shopping and switching behavior, we conducted a Flash Survey of 600+ seniors across the U.S. Our survey was in-market just last week so the results are hot off the press. Here is a summary of our findings.
1. Consumers are just as likely to shop, or not, this year as compared to last year’s AEP.
42% of seniors surveyed said they were shopping for a new Medicare plan, while 58% said they were not. These numbers aligned exactly with findings from Deft Research’s 2020 Medicare Shopping and Switching Study. 15% of the seniors we surveyed already made a switch at the midpoint of AEP.
Those enrolled in Medicare Advantage plans are most likely to shop (50%) and switch (21% already switched). Original Medicare only enrollees are least likely to shop (33%) and switch (only 5% have already switched).
2. External factors do not appear to be playing a significant role in whether or not consumers are deciding to shop or switch.
Of those not shopping this year only 3% claim external factors are the reason (presidential election, COVID-19, etc.). The overwhelmingly majority (80%) are simply satisfied with their current plan. Of course, it’s important to note that this survey was based on a national audience, and that some local markets, especially those that were identified as hotly contested swing states, may be experiencing different results.
3. Consumers are choosing to do their own research, mostly via the Internet, and relying on brokers more than ever.
One-third of consumers noted that they were shopping differently this year as compared to past AEPs. The most common way in which consumers noted they were shopping differently was “by doing more research on their own vs. meeting with a health plan sales representative.” Of those who have shopped or plan to shop, the following are the three ways consumers plan to learn about their Medicare options:
- The Internet – 35%
- Agents/brokers – 21%
- Direct mail – 18%
Those with a Medicare Supplemental plan are even more reliant on the Internet (38%) and more likely to have a broker (28%). Those on Original Medicare only are unlikely to have/use a broker and use the Internet (28%) and TV (25%) as a means to gather information.
When asked what would have made the shopping experience easier, 43% of consumers wanted better/more website tools – by far the highest-ranking answer – with 14% wanting to meet with a broker. The importance of having a good digital experience and good broker relationships and commissions appears to be paramount.
Given that Medicare consumers are continuing to shop this year, health plans should continue investing in marketing efforts all the way through the AEP deadline on December 7. Check back with us in a few months for analysis of the 2021 AEP after the final enrollment numbers arrive. Any questions about our survey findings? Contact us today.Tags: COVID-19, Medicare, medicare aep, Medicare marketing