Blog Post

Announcing Deft Research's NEW OEP Study
by Catherine Mandler


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Deft Research added a new study to the Senior Market Insights Service. The OEP Supplement published this week and looks at switching activity that occurred during the newly reinstituted Open Enrollment Period (OEP). It’s an add-on study to the Medicare Shopping and Switching Study and examines what happened during this new switching period 1/1/19 – 3/31/19.

The primary objective of the study is to understand shopping and switching during the OEP with a special emphasis on Medicare Advantage members. The study relates the OEP behavior to AEP, including the channels that prompt consumer shopping during the OEP, and how product design can drive consumer decisions and be altered to help prevent attrition in future AEPs.

Is OEP an Opportunity to Acquire and Retain new Medicare Advantage Members?

OEP gives Medicare Advantage (MA) members the opportunity to experience their health plan and decide if another plan better meets their needs. Loyalty to a new plan is tested by these early experiences. The OEP gives members an opportunity to find a better alternative. 17% of MA members cite that finding a better alternative is a top reason for switching their coverage during the OEP. New supplemental benefits give members a reason to re-evaluate their current plan and see what other plans have to offer. The 2020 AEP will provide even more new supplemental benefit offerings to attract the attention of new members. Even if MA members didn’t experience the new benefits, OEP gives them time to better understand the benefits and look at alternatives. This makes it more important than ever that health plans ramp-up the educational efforts to clearly communicate their benefits to help members make the right choice for them initially.

What Prompts Medicare Advantage Members to Switch During OEP?

Agents continue to play a critical role for MA members when considering health plan alternatives. Given the increased benefit offerings with new supplemental benefits, members have even more questions. Speaking to a person to help guide them through the decision eases the burden of sorting through the alternatives themselves.

What Supplemental Benefits Were Switch-Worthy?

New supplemental benefits prompt members to switch plans. The door is open for the 2020 AEP to see the impact of new supplemental benefits once health plans have more time to implement them. Eyewear allowance and over-the-counter pharmacy allowance are supplemental benefits that the recent OEP study shows to sway MA members to consider a particular health plan. There’s a fine balance between offering a novel supplemental benefit that is switch-worthy and appealing to the masses. The 2020 AEP will be an interesting time period to see how this plays out for new supplemental benefit offerings.

Deft Research’s syndicated research studies provide a national benchmark for health insurance carriers to gauge the Medicare, Employer Group, and Individual markets. Health insurers that are interested in surveying their own members and prospects engage Deft Research in custom research studies to provide insight for their marketing and product strategies. Contact Deft Research with any questions you may have regarding syndicated and custom research needs. 


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