Pre-Warming Activities for Medicare AEP
The Annual Enrollment Period (AEP) is the pinnacle of the year for independent insurance agents selling Medicare plans. With millions of Medicare beneficiaries to serve and intense competition in the market, it’s crucial to be well-prepared. Don’t wait until October 1st to kickstart your efforts! In this blog post, we’ll explore powerful pre-warming activities that will help you stand out, engage your target audience, and optimize your success during AEP.
Medicare Advantage enrollment continues to rise, and is projected to continue. KFF
When is the Medicare Annual Enrollment Period (AEP) for 2024?
The Annual Enrollment Period for 2024 is October 15 – December 7, 2023. Any changes made to coverage during this time will take effect January 1, 2024. 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 new 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.
Preparing for AEP doesn’t have to be a waiting game. By implementing these pre-warming activities, you can establish your presence, engage your target audience, and position yourself as the go-to agent for Medicare plans. Start revving your engine now, so when the green flag drops on October 1st, you’re ready to sprint ahead of the competition. Don’t miss out on the opportunity to make this AEP your most successful one yet!