Pre-Warming Activities for Medicare AEP 2019
What can you be doing to get ready for AEP? Get tips on how to be compliant and get leads in your pipeline now with pre-warming activities.
Or so it seems during the waiting game of the official Annual Enrollment Period (AEP) launch. By the time October 1st is here, there is a very small window to reach the masses. According to AARP, there are 44 million Medicare beneficiaries. That’s 15% of the population. 22 million are currently enrolled in Medicare Advantage. There are so many people to serve during AEP, however there is intense competition as everyone is playing by the same rules. So, what can you be doing to put yourself in the best possible position until that magical October 1 date? Let’s take a quick stop at what the CMS regulations are and some effective, compliant pre-warming activities.
When is the Medicare Annual Enrollment Period (AEP) for 2019?
The Annual Enrollment Period for 2019 is October 15 – December 7, 2019. Any changes made to coverage during this time will take effect January 1, 2020. According to the CMS Medicare Communications & Marketing Guidelines (MCMG), any attempts to directly try and sell or market plans and products before October 1st are prohibited.
The MCMG draws a hard line between “communications” and “marketing”:
Communications: Activities and use of materials to provide information to current and prospective enrollees. This means that all activities and materials aimed at prospective and current enrollees, including their caregivers and other decision makers associated with a prospective or current enrollee, are “communications” within the scope of the regulations at 42 CFR Parts 417, 422, and 423.
Marketing: A subset of communications and includes activities and use of materials by the Plan/Part D sponsor with the intent to draw a beneficiary’s attention to a plan or plans and to influence a beneficiary’s decision-making process when selecting a plan for enrollment or deciding to stay enrolled in a plan (that is, retention-based marketing).
Additionally, marketing contains information about the plan’s benefit structure, cost sharing, measuring, or ranking standards.
The difference? Communications is purely educational.
Compliance with CMS regulations are imperative.
If you have questions on compliance, please contact AGA’s compliance team at 800-498-6880 or send us a message online
What you cannot do before October 1st:
- Connect or advertise (in person, by phone, direct mail, email, etc.) in any way to discuss or promote upcoming plans/products
- Host any marketing/sales events that promote upcoming plans or products
- Acquire a Scope of Appointment (SOA) form with the intent of reviewing 2020 plan information.
For more information on Pre-warming Activities and compliance, please download our Pre-Warming Guide
Compliant Pre-Warming Strategy
It may seem like your hands are completely tied, but this is not the case.
Even though the race doesn’t start until October 1st, you can start putting the tires on your car, giving it a tune-up, etc. Use this time to get your market ready so that when it is go-time, your audience knows who you are and views you as their go-to source. Here are some pre-warming activities to consider:
- Define your target market. Is there a slice that you will be working with within the Medicare beneficiary market, such as married couples, nursing home beneficiaries, specific cities you are expanding to?
- Know your audience. What are their interests? What do they read, watch? What are their primary concerns? Who do they follow on social media?
- Research your competitors. What are they doing that you aren’t? How is your niche different from theirs? How can you outshine them?
- Get marketing channels compliant. Get your ads, websites, handouts, presentations (any marketing material) approved in advance so there aren’t any delays when it’s mission critical time.
- Calendar your marketing events.
- Connect with current clients to review their current year plan benefits. Note, you can only discuss their current year, but in doing so, you will learn about what their needs are and have a warm call to make come October 1.
- Educate your audience on when AEP is and what happens during that time.
- Continue current marketing activities geared toward Turning 65 audience.