A regional health plan had a strong senior market share in the central city in their service area but the rest of the region was highly competitive with a large Blues player and national firms such as AARP/United Healthcare, Humana, and others vying for Medicare business. The client needed to crack the outlying markets in order to grow.
THE DEFT APPROACH
First, Deft Research conducted an analysis of the market using secondary data from the client and public sources. We discovered that the two largest opportunities were lower income seniors with supplemental Medicare policies and seniors with no insurance other than Original Medicare.
Several research goals were developed during meetings with the client:
- Describe the preferences and attitudes of seniors currently served by Medigap plans, Medicare Advantage customers, and seniors with no supplemental coverage.
- Develop an understanding of trade-offs between premium level and cost sharing.
- Obtain information that helps predict the response of the market to coverage packages offering extra benefits.
- Suggest ways to differentiate with product, price, and positioning.
The research reduced the uncertainty and financial risk of an innovative product launch. To attract low income MedSupp customers, the client launched a Medicare Advantage product whose benefits were rich and cost sharing low. The product had a higher premium that the previous conventional wisdom would have recommended.
The client learned where to focus. Seniors enrolled in Original Medicare Only and MedSupp were most attracted to the predictability of premiums and costs. And, compared to their Medicare Advantage peer, they were less attracted to ancillary services such as wellness or advice services.
For many MedSupp customers, premiums created financial worries. The client’s Medicare Advantage plan was positioned to both relieve financial stress and meet the customer’s needs better.