Many Medicare Advantage (MA) plans are relying on predictive modeling to power their Annual Election Period (AEP) marketing, with use hitting all-time highs in 2015 and 2016. And that trend should continue, according to Cary Badger, principal at HealthScape Advisors, LLC, in Chicago. Many insurers use response modeling extensively, he says. “We are working with our clients to augment these purchase behavior decision models with more analytical insights leveraging their current MA membership — e.g., why did the current members join and who are they? — to understand what changes AEP will drive into their membership for the forthcoming year.”

This also allows the plan to prepare post-enrollment member and patient engagement strategies, including health assessments, chronic care management, and accuracy of risk evaluations, he says.

“The days of mailing everyone are long gone,” agrees Linda Armstrong, executive vice president and practice leader for marketing firm DMW Direct in Chesterbrook, Pa. “Predictive modeling is a part of all of our clients’ processing. Modeling enables them to go as deep into a file as is profitable for them and is a cost-effective way to keep mailing costs down.” For many clients, “we employ different models for each touch. We have found that the model results change between touches and using models based on the results of each individual touch increases the response for each touch.”

Badger says he urges plans not to get fixated on products and prices. “I go into these meetings and they’re debating whether it would help to have a dollar advantage on a copay,” he says. “They need to focus on the big picture.” Members prefer consistency and don’t like changes in plan design every year, he says.

In addition, plans “know their current membership really, really well,” and so they should consider how they attracted those members and work to attract more people like that. “If you know your customer base, you will be better off than if you don’t.”

For example, insurers should consider what the baby boom generation wants from their insurer, which is much different than what prior generations have wanted. Baby boomers want dental and vision coverage, and they especially want coverage when they travel, he says.