August 9, 2023

Who Threw Out My Baseball Cards?

Rick Lee
Time Read
6
mins

Retention… Just the sound of that word can make you shudder. Nielsen says that if exposed to watching Seinfeld, virtually 100% of humans will retain their enthusiasm for the show. (OK, maybe only 99%.)  I harken back to wanting to retain my favorite childhood Teddy Bear. Or, to choose a more valuable asset - wishing I could retain shoeboxes full of precious baseball cards that my Mother threw out. And in the world of Medicare Advantage, to retain a member carries a significant dollar value.

Retaining just one member is worth $1500 - $2500, according to my closely guarded sources inside various MA plans. That’s way more than any of my baseball cards. (And I’m still feeling the loss of those, all these years later!)

MA Retention = MA Plan Survival

Retention of Medicare Advantage members is critical to your plan’s survival.  Retaining current membership absorbs a great deal of management’s time when open enrollment rolls around.   It underscores the appeal a plan has achieved in earning loyalty by providing operational excellence.  Quite frankly, staying in one’s MA plan might also be attributed to seniors being lazy or distracted, or our bias in tolerating the status quo or just bad timing.  

A Senior with an extended stay hospitalization to fight cancer likely is not focused on the free transportation benefit offered by her MA plan.  So, in truth, the Annual Enrollment Period that starts after Labor Day and extends into a week after Thanksgiving doesn’t result in wholesale shifting of enrolled populations from one plan to another.  Perhaps only 30-45% of eligible seniors contemplate their contentment with their current plan and consider switching.

Welcome To The Big League

The battle to recruit and retain members is waged on a multi-million dollar scale, featuring household heroes like Joe Namath and Capt. James Tiberious Kirk—AKA William Shatner—all fighting for market share.  And in these skirmishes, there’s no Elmer’s Glue or Duct Tape.  Rather, a clarion call goes out to remind current members of the value of their benefit package.  

Try mining membership data for all members who utilized their optometry benefit, and you’ll likely find many loyal members, likely to remain in your plan.  Maybe refining membership around chronic diseases like COPD can isolate those who live alone.  Are they being overseen by your care managers?  If so, do you know how many have pets in their home and to what extent those pets are harboring fleas that could exacerbate COPD symptoms? 

So Is Retention Just A Numbers Game?

The more an MA plan is empowered with personal data (e.g. name of pet with fleas), the more capable of launching a potent retention campaign.  At Healthrageous, we proudly dive into the deep end of the personalization pool.  Just starting with a name is a good beginning.  My name is Frederick, but I go by Rick.  And not a first day of school ever went by without me hearing “is Fred Lee here” during morning attendance checks.

My brother’s name is Dana.  The burden inflicted on him by my parents was his gender, not just his nickname.  “Is Dana here?  Oh, you're a boy?”  There’s a reason used car salesmen ask the name you’d like them to call you.  It’s because Dale Carnegie instructed them to deploy it, Rick, in every question over the next hour, Rick, as they put you in that perfect sedan to drive home, Rick.

Getting personal doesn’t have to be a violation of HIPAA.  Rather, knowing you love to read crime novels or watch Wheel of Fortune engages you with your care manager.  Understanding that you get up with the rooster or watch TV well after midnight is equally telling and personal.  The greater the intimacy, the more likely a bond forms.  Eliciting personal data might be too time consuming for care management staff.  But it has become more accessible in today’s data rich marketing world than ever before.  And health care firms like Better Health have even been sanctioned by the government for misusing Personal Health Information (PHI).  

But HOW Do You Know?

At Healthrageous, we learn a lot about those we serve.  Their likes and dislikes in food.  Their fondness for salt or sugar.  Their desire to lose weight.  Their aversion to exercise.  Do they consume enough water on a daily basis? Through asynchronous communication, they share their battle with Type 2 Diabetes.  They bemoan the chore of cooking for just themselves.  

You don’t need glue or tape to achieve stickiness.  When you have a well-designed personalization engine that teases out what makes a person tick, you’ve overcome the largest hurdle. And it really works. Our clients have observed an 8% retention bump solely from our intervention.  When seeking to create broad product loyalty, consider the Healthrageous model of meals, digital engagement and deep personalization.  Let us show you how to increase stickiness without having to resort to glue or tape.

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