As Medicare Advantage organizations prepare to promote their plans for the 2022 Medicare Annual Election Period (AEP), marketing experts say they see a continued shift to year-round and online campaigns. But with the increased use of digital engagement and enrollment leading to some member dissatisfaction, plans must take extra steps to ensure a positive experience early on, they warn.

CMS as of press time had not yet released its annual “landscape” files for the MA and Part D programs, but data released this time last year indicated that MA beneficiaries in 2021 had an average number of 47 plan choices per county, up from 39 in 2020, and that more than 4,800 MA plans were operating in 2021, compared with 4,300 in 2020. Marketing for the AEP begins on Oct. 1, and open enrollment runs from Oct. 15 through Dec. 7.

In her work assisting MAOs with their AEP marketing, DMW Direct Executive Vice President Renee Mezzanotte observes that while last year’s election-related disruptions are behind them, “plans and consumers are still dealing with the uncertainties of COVID.” And that’s not just having an impact on in-person engagement but in the “unexpected channel” of direct mail, she tells AIS Health, a division of MMIT.

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