Rev UP Your Practice Marketing Mojo with Open Enrollment

image of health insurance application

So here it is – September… when some of us begin to think about changing leaves and cooler temperatures. Others get a real jump on the season with thoughts of holiday shopping….

But those of us who work in healthcare hardly need a reminder that Open Enrollment for health insurance is right around the corner! Since that will affect almost all our existing clients and prospective clients, it benefits them AND us when we call their attention – and focus on it.

So let’s invest some marketing elbow grease over the next couple of weeks. For little effort, and no cost except time, you can do some simple outreach to existing and prospective clients, to expand your work and income.

We All Know the Basics

First – any advocate or care manager worth their salt knows the basics; that in the United States, in order to get any sort of healthcare services, you must have at least a basic insurance policy. We all pay for insurance in one form or another (past the age of 26, at least). Even if someone doesn’t pay directly from their own pocket, they may have an employer, or the employer of a partner, paying for it.

The Health Insurance Calendar

open enrollment for advocates

Second – every year in the Fall, individuals have the ability and sometimes the requirement to update their insurance coverage.

That’s where – and when – you, their trusted advisor, come in!

Health insurance advisement is a service that supports those who want information about their options or their requirements. It’s something that all advocates and care managers can provide. They may do so by providing the service themselves, or by referring to the right experts, or by providing good resources.

Early fall, right after Labor Day, is the time to launch these efforts.

Brush Up on Your Health Insurance Knowledge

  1. Assess your level of knowledge about health insurance and government payment programs like Medicare. Fill in any gaps you might have such as:
    • Do you understand, and can you explain the terminology? (copays, coinsurance, policy payments, prior authorization, formulary tiers, and more.)
    • Are you knowledgeable about the ways to assess the best plan for each individual?
    • Do you know the various plans and parameters?
    • Do you understand the underlying reason policies are priced the way they are? How that affects which doctors an insured person can see, whether they will need prior authorization, or how much their drug and device prescriptions will cost?
    • Do you understand how employer subsidies work? Why they change over time, and how a client can review their benefit annually to be sure they are making the right choices?
    • Do you know the 4 types of Medicare coverage, and the differences (pros and cons) between Medicare Advantage and Medigap insurance?
    • … and other questions
  2. If your understanding of health insurance is lacking, that provides you with two new opportunities:
    • Maximize your knowledge of the basics, as outlined above. Do your homework. Develop your own working knowledge base so you can answer basic questions – or even so you know HOW to refer to someone else who knows them.
    • Connect with someone who is an expert in health insurance advisory (often, but not always, medical billing specialists) who can back you up when needed. Be sure to make one or two connections prior to your marketing push so you know you can tap into them, or advise your clients to tap into them if necessary. Expect to pay them for this support.
  3. Review your own health insurance status. This will give you a sense of what you need to look for, and how to assess whether you’re getting your own best coverage for your money. Once you’ve taken care of this for yourself, you’ll feel much more confident about helping clients. As you go along, list the questions you needed to ask for yourself so you can be prepared with answers when those same questions are asked by a client.
  4. Make a list of all the resources you have gathered. People, articles, and resources online – whatever has been helpful to you. You’ll be able to share them when the time comes.
  5. With all this knowledge in place, it’s time to do some outreach.

Create Your Open Enrollment Focused Marketing Plan

  • Step 1: Assemble your email lists. (1) a master email list of all your past and current clients. And (2) your potential clients from talks you’ve given, cards you’ve collected, whatever you have. You might even add in your pastor or rabbi, financial advisors you know – anyone you think could influence others to reach out to you. If they haven’t before given you permission to email them, then ask them to opt-in ahead of time.
  • Step 2: Determine Open Enrollment deadline dates. They vary by state, so just do a quick search for the upcoming year (not the current year if you’re searching after mid-year). Also find out what the Medicare and Medicaid dates are as sometimes they can be different. Further, they might be different for straight Medicare (and Medi-gap) – vs – Medicare Advantage.
  • Step 3: Make an outreach calendar and plan for all the times you’ll contact the people on your lists between now and early next year. This can be a simple list of dates (every 10 days or so). Also, determine topics or “did you knows?” or “facts about health insurance” or terminology – some piece of information that can be shared in each outreach. Your first should be issued by mid-September. Plan for 8-10 contacts before Open Enrollment ends (usually early January.) Send them more frequently as you get closer to deadline dates. Remember to include a Call to Action and your contact information in every outreach.
  • Step 4: Use your email lists for outreach. Send a newsletter or an email that invites each person on your list to begin thinking about changes to their coverage. Assure them you can walk them through the process if they need help. Often by mid-September, you’ll find Open Enrollment becomes a topic of conversation even at social events. Make sure people can easily share your capabilities with others. (e.g. “Forward to a friend.”). Consider setting up different versions of your email or newsletter. One can go to current clients and may be a bit more personalized, and another for potential clients that’s more generic.
  • Finally: Take notes as you go along about ways you want to improve your outreach next year. Because – you should plan to do this annually, tweaked each year to fit new laws, new rules, or to improve the previous years’ outcomes.

Reap Huge Benefits!

There are so many benefits to you and your clients to this sort of information push! YOU will learn much in the process, not just about health insurance and Open Enrollment, but about your individual clients’ needs, too. YOU will also garner new clients, or expanded work from existing or past clients. YOUR CLIENTS will learn you have the knowledge, and the connections, to make their journey smoother as needed, too.

Win-win! The BEST way to do business.

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100% of this post was written by me, a human being. When there is AI (Artificial Intelligence) generated content, it will always be disclosed.

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Trisha Torrey
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