Are you looking for ways to grow your Medicare business outside of the Annual Election Period (AEP)? Year-round marketing is not only essential for laying the groundwork for the next AEP, but it is necessary to gain year-round sales. A great way to grow during Rest of Year (ROY) is to become an expert in and Low-Income Subsidy (LIS) and Medicare Savings Programs (MSP), such as Dual Special Needs Plans (D-SNP). Customers who qualify for any level of LIS or MSP can make changes each quarter outside of AEP. Understanding this demographic and determining the specific challenges they face can help you form an effective sales strategy.
When can MSP and LIS beneficiaries enroll or change plans?
Beneficiaries who qualify for MSP or LIS can make a change once each quarter during the first 3 quarters of the year. These are the 3 quarters outside of AEP. A change for any given quarter is based on the submission date, and not the effective date for the quarter. So, if a beneficiary submits an enrollment application for a plan change in April with a May 1st effective date, then they would have to wait until July to submit a new enrollment application with an August 1st effective date. During the last quarter of the year, MSP and LIS eligible members can make their normal election choices during Medicare’s AEP from October 15 to December 7th with a January 1st effective date.
Aside from these quarterly changes, this group of eligible members can also add or change a plan if they have any change in their MSP or LIS status. This includes if they lose eligibility, gain eligibility, or if their eligibility level moves up or down the following benefit levels.
Understanding the MSP/LIS demographics
Low-income demographics: MSP and LIS help low-income beneficiaries reduce their Medicare expenses. This means this is a low-income demographic, so learning the income levels for each program and level will help you determine where and how to market. The maximum income limits to qualify for partial assistance through both LIS and the Medicare Savings Program for listed below. Keep in mind, that full dual (D-SNP) and full LIS beneficiaries have considerably less income resources than stated below. For example, the average income for full D-SNP eligible beneficiaries is only $8,000 to $11,000 per year.
Why is this important? This group of beneficiaries must make ends meet on limited income. This means that any extra benefits, such as extra money per month for the Healthy Food Benefit or the Over-the-counter products, will really help them out and your marketing message can be tailored to address these benefits. It will also affect where you are marketing to reach this customer demographic since they would be more likely to live in low-income housing areas and utilize local food banks.
D-SNP & Disabilities: D-SNP eligible consumers are 3x’s more likely to live with a disabling condition and approximately 30% of them live alone.
Why is this important? Due to disabilities, this demographic is not as likely to be mobile or out and about as often and may rely on other influencers for decision making. As an agent, your marketing efforts may be best spent on direct marketing of these influencers via provider marketing to physicians, specialist, dentists, etc, as well as direct mail marketing to where the D-SNP consumer resides.
How to find MSP/ LIS consumers?
Now that we know a little more about this consumer, we can determine where to find and market to them. It is important to know where LIS and MSP consumers eat, sleep, pray, or who are their influencers. Here are several suggestions on places to reach these consumers and how to market each.
- Low-income housing
- Food banks
- Providers/ Influencers
- Non-profit/Faith-based organization
As mentioned, MSP/LIS consumers make ends meet with limited income, which means they likely live in low-income housing. Low-income communities are everywhere, even areas that you would not think are low income have section 8 or HUD subsidized locations. These include mobile home parks, low-income HUD or Section 8 apartments, and nonprofit senior apartments.
You can market these areas via direct mail to the consumer and through marketing the community influencers: the property managers.
Direct Mail: This is direct to the consumer marketing via a marketing mailer, such as a postcard or letter. You can buy mailing lists based on low-income and 65+. But keep in mind that 39% of D-SNP eligible are under 65 years old. Refer to income limits mentioned earlier for your list sorting.
Property Managers: Many of communities have property managers that manage the property, organize regular events, distribute newsletters, and have regularly contact with the tenants. They are the gatekeepers and influencers of their communities. Your goal is to build and maintain relationships with the property managers and/or activities directors at these locations. Here are a few ideas to market these influencers and get in front of the residents.
- Social events: Many communities will have regular social events within the community. You can sponsor one of these events, such as an ice cream social, bingo, a bring monthly birthday treats.
- Educational event: Offer to hold an educational event for the residents on a subject that would be helpful for this demographic (i.e. How to apply for LIS, MAPD extra benefits, Medicare 101)
- Clinics: Hold an LIS clinic where you assist them with the steps to fill out LIS or MSP applications, or to answer general questions.
- Newsletters: If the community does a monthly newsletter, then they may need content or even offer cheap or free advertisement. You can offer to write a short piece on different Medicare topics monthly for the newsletter.
- Flyers: Leave your flyers and brochures on Medicare topics in the front office, club house, or community center.
Low-income housing tips:
- Make sure you are consistent with revisiting each community that you’ve established a relationship. Visit the managers regularly and see how you can help.
- You can search low-income housing at lowincomehousing.us and affordablehousingonline.com
- Replenish flyers regularly and switch them up to see how different flyers perform.
- Best time to schedule events are when residents are paying rent or mail is dropped off.
Our MSP and LIS consumers need to make a limited income go as far as possible on groceries. As a result, many utilize local food banks to help stretch their grocery budget. Your goal when marketing food banks is to first educate the “gatekeepers” that manage the food bank on how you can assist the consumer and help them gain access to more resources. Bring a packet that highlights the various resources, such as LIS help, D-SNP healthy foods, OTC catalog, dental, etc, that you can show to the food bank organizers. As you build a relationship with the organizers, you can request permission to post these materials, hold an informal sales event with a table and popup banner where you can answer questions and pass out flyers/materials. You can also ask if you can include your flyer highlighting assistance or resources in each of the food boxes that go out. Remember, the key is to make sure the gatekeepers understand how you can help the consumers at foodbanks. If including your flyer can potentially help their consumers in a real way, then the gatekeepers are more likely to include them in the packaging.
Food bank tips:
- Don’t conduct this marketing during mealtimes when organizers are too busy to talk.
- Don’t call first. Simply drop by so you can speak face-to-face.
- Thank the organizer and follow up with a thank you card or phone call.
- Maintain your new relationship with regular visits and communications.
- Replenish any posted flyers or materials.
Provider marketing includes marketing and forming relationships with the physicians, pharmacists, dentists, chiropractors, etc., that your LIS and MSP consumers frequent visit. These are influencers where your potential clients are ready turn to for advice and trust and include the following:
- Primary Care Physicians
- Hospital/ FQHC
Your first step is to identify a list of providers to visit. As mentioned, LIS and MSP consumers have limited income so you should search providers in the heart of lower income areas. Depending on the types of providers you are targeting, make sure you have appropriate material to leave behind for both consumer and provider facing. For example, when visiting dentists, you would provide D-SNP benefits on dental or at Pharmacists you would include LIS materials on potential Extra Help savings.
As you go out and meet these providers, your goal is to build a relationship with them and help them by alleviating a pain point or benefiting them and their patients in some way. You can do this by presenting yourself as a trusted, knowledgeable source that can help the provider by answering patient, physician, and staffs Medicare questions or by holding provider lunch and learns or patient educational events on Medicare topics. As we know, Medicare is complicated, and it helps them to have an expert to direct all questions to. You can also help them keep patients in their network by offering to help them identify and enroll in plans that have the provider in their network. For more information on general provider marketing, you can visit our blog on Growing Your Business with Provider Marketing.
In the case of LIS and MSP, you can educate providers on the different savings and plan benefits that help their patients. Specifically, for D-SNP, this includes bringing D-SNP provider education packets with information and resources that can help consumers and physicians. Each carrier has a myriad of D-SNP materials. Below is an example of materials you can get from the UnitedHealthcare Toolkit that are included in the Provider Packet:
- D-SNP Provider Leave Behind Letter
- D-SNP Provider Journey Map
- D-SNP Provider Quick Reference Guide
- D-SNP Provider Benefit Overview Flyer
- D-SNP Provider Educational Resource Flyer
- D-SNP Provider “Got Got Get” Materials Menu
- D-SNP Benefit Flyers
- Get to know the front desk workers. They are the gatekeepers and influencers.
- Ask to speak to the business office manager.
- Take a few minutes to quickly show the materials in the provider packet.
- Ask if you can leave consumer facing flyers in the lobby.
- Make regular visits to replenish or swap out flyers, bring treats to staff, or fill lobby candy dishes.
There are many non-profit/faith-based organizations that offer various forms of assistance to low-income communities, including food, clothes, donations, bill assistance, etc. You can search to make a list of non-profits that assist low-income families online and visit churches to find out which organizations they partner with, or what programs they offer these communities.
You would approach these organizations like you would approach food banks: Educate the people running the organization or church on how LIS/MSP can help provide more resources to low-income communities. Your marketing activities here are similar to food banks or the low-income housing communities. These include leaving consumer facing flyers, setting up a table to answer questions and provide flyers and brochures on plan benefits or LIS savings at their community fundraisers or events, hold an education event or LIS/MSP/DSNP clinic to help show people how to apply for LIS or MSP, or host one of their events.
Non-profit/faith-based organization tips:
- Speak with the organization leadership.
- Maintain relationships by visiting regularly.
- Find out if they make announcements at the end of service.
- See if the church has a newsletter you can contribute to.
Marketing is a continual effort. To build and maintain relationships, you will need to be consistent and engage regularly with both the influencers and the consumer. As you do this, the community will see you as an export and important resource for LIS/MSP customers. People will not remember you or how you can help if you only show up one time. Set a schedule to make rounds to places you have visited. Keep track of the locations where people were the most receptive and make sure to show your face and bring more flyers or engage in other ways.
Also, find ways to regularly help and engage directly with the LIS/MSP consumer at these locations with scheduled events, tables, or newsletters with your face and content. Most importantly, when marketing to the LIS/MSP demographic, remember to be sensitive to their special needs and circumstance and be sure you know LIS Extra Help and Medicare Savings Program extremely well. For more in depth information on these programs, see our blogs The Ins and Outs of the Medicare Savings Program and The Ins and Outs of Extra Help, Low-Income Subsidy
Feel free to contact us and learn more about our MARKETING ASSISTANCE and CO-MARKETING REIMBURSEMENT for agents. Our agents also have dedicated agent managers and a marketing designer to help you create flyers, postcards, etc, for free.