A big issue for many Medicare Agents is finding consistent leads year-round, outside of the busy Annual Election Period (AEP). There are still a lot of people that are eligible to enroll in plans outside of AEP, including upwards of 10,000 aging in daily. Holding educational events to help educate Medicare recipients about the various Medicare parts and plans is a great way to help generate leads and maintain more consistent sales the rest of the year.
Why Educational Events?
Educational seminars are a great source for finding year-round Medicare leads. Strategically planning various events throughout the year that target different types of Medicare eligibles can not only produce leads directly at the event, but it can also help you position yourself as a Medicare expert in your community. Over time, the latter will bring in more consistent referrals. The good news is that the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) treats educational events differently than marketing events. Recent changes by CMS now allows agents to pass out business cards, collect contact information via optional generic lead information cards, as well as complete a Scope of Appointment for any attendee interested. Educational events have broad topic appeal versus plan specific information presented at marketing events. Because of this, they can attract multiple target audiences that wouldn’t normally go to an official plan Marketing Event because they may not know that a specific plan is right for them, or they don’t want to attend something that they assume is geared more towards selling them a plan versus providing them valuable information. Here is a look at the different audiences you can target for educational events.
Multiple Target Audiences
Turning 65: This group is brand new to Medicare and doesn’t necessarily know that their options include a Medicare Advantage or Medicare Supplement plan. They are more likely to attend an educational event to get answers to their questions and learn more. Once they are informed, they will be able to make a choice. If you are the person providing them with Medicare expertise, then they are more likely to trust and use you to enroll in a plan.
Employer Groups: This group includes companies that have people leaving the work force and moving on to Medicare. You can help employers by positioning yourself as their source to help their employees make this transition. Offer to hold regular educational events to teach employees how to make the move to Medicare and help them with any uncertainties that come up from enrollment periods, current HSA accounts, penalties, etc.
Medicaid/LIS Eligibles: Many clients may not know they qualify for extra help, or that there are DUAL Plans that can benefit them. You can help clients apply for LIS, which will significantly reduce their prescription drug costs. You can also educate them about Dual plans that provide extra benefits such as dental and vision coverage .
Original Medicare Recipients: You can hold educational seminars for this group to breakdown the differences in costs, out of pocket maximums, how billing works, copays, coinsurance, and general differences between original Medicare and MAPD or Medicare Supplements.
How to Market Educational Events
A successful educational event is one that attracts an audience and provides them with relevant information that helps them make Medicare decisions. Start by picking your target audience, as exampled above, and decide which topic could best help and attract that audience to your event. Once you have your topic, you will want to tailor your message and market your event to that audience. Here are a few examples of educational event messaging/topics:
- Medicare: What is covered, what is not covered?
- Are you maximizing your Medicare benefits?
- Breaking down Medicare Parts A, B, C, and D
- Do you qualify for LIS or Medicaid? How they affect Medicare
- Turning 65? Learn how to prepare for Medicare
- Retirement: How to transition to Medicare from employer benefits
You will need to find a venue that is strategically located and accessible near your target audience. This could be a retirement community club house, senior center, library meeting room, etc. An accessible location can make the difference on how many people attend your meeting.
A note on virtual meetings: As we are currently navigating COVID 19 and adhering to social distancing protocols to keep our clients safe, virtual educational webinars are a good alternative. Virtual meetings make it convenient for Medicare recipients to attend your event from the comfort and safety of their home. However, it is not just a convenient tool for the COVID era. Many Medicare eligibles coming out of the workforce now are more accustom to webinar meetings and may prefer to attend a webinar versus an in-person event, even in normal situations. You do not have to file these events if they are purely educational.
Once you are ready to market your event, use a myriad of marketing channels to get your event in front of them. These include mailers, social media posts, online ads, newspaper ads, or flyers that can be distributed and left in various senior centers, doctor’s offices, community centers, etc. There are also companies that will market and fill seats for you, for a price.
Educational Event Compliance
As always, Medicare has a lot of dos and don’ts to follow. Even though educational events are not as strict as marketing events, you still need to understand what you can and cannot do. Here is a list directly from CMS to keep in mind while preparing and presenting your educational event.
Per CMS, Educational events are designed to inform beneficiaries about Medicare Advantage, Prescription Drug, or other Medicare programs. Educational events:
- Must be explicitly advertised as educational;
- May be hosted in a public venue by the Plan/Part D sponsor or an outside entity;
- May include communication activities and distribution of communication materials;
- May answer beneficiary initiated questions;
- May set up a future marketing appointment, and distribute business cards and contact information for beneficiaries to initiate contact (this includes completing and collecting a Scope of Appointment (SOA) form);
- Must not include marketing or sales activities or distribution of marketing materials or enrollment forms; and
- May not conduct a marketing/sales event immediately following an educational event in the same general location (e.g., same hotel).