Power to the People

Updated on June 11, 2023

Digital Empowerment is Changing Medicare 

Progress happens as a result of large-scale societal shifts and changing consumer behaviors. Companies follow, leveraging nascent technologies to build new products and services to meet the demand. According to an Accenture report, 64% of customers wish companies would respond faster to meet their changing needs, while 88% of executives think their customers are changing faster than their businesses can keep up. This disconnect will continue to grow as consumers have more data, information, and insights than ever before. 

Boomers, or those born between 1946 and 1964, have had a profound impact on politics, culture, business, and society throughout every phase of their lives. The second-largest living generation in history, they championed social change and advocated for equal rights, environmental conservation, and peace. It’s not surprising that they find themselves profoundly changing the healthcare business as 10,000 of them turn 65 — and become eligible for Medicare — every single day.  Not only do they want more personalized products, but they also want greater transparency in order to feel empowered in their decisions. 

Over the last decade, there has been a proliferation of various marketing tactics — from DRTV to direct mail — in order to reach, and often take advantage of, Medicare beneficiaries. While these methods initially yielded rapid growth and effective response rates, they eventually became oversaturated, leading to high churn. Rapid outbound dialing to consumers who completed online lead forms has become the norm, but this approach has resulted in chaos for beneficiaries, with multiple outbound calls from various marketing organizations vying for their attention. 

Overall, the vast majority (94%) of adults 65 and older with Medicare coverage report being very satisfied or satisfied with the quality of their medical care and the availability of specialists. However, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) shared that the number of Medicare beneficiary complaints about private sector marketing for Medicare Advantage (MA) plans more than doubled from 2020 to 2021. Rightfully so, as this new generation of tech-savvy seniors is demanding a better approach, and the market now faces a crackdown on aggressive marketing tactics to secure lead generation. 

Today’s seniors want to understand their healthcare options and have a seamless purchasing experience in the same way they now engage with their bank, the grocery store, online retailers, and other sites. The pandemic accelerated trends that were already taking place. According to consumer data, 76% of consumers aged 60 and over made healthcare-related searches online before 2020. Additionally, a survey from the same year revealed that 52% of seniors were willing to try telehealth, citing faster access to care as motivation. Since the pandemic, boomers have embraced digital channels in new ways, and yet, despite these developments, the market has not yet reached the scaled demand necessary for full self-service and unassisted online enrollment. The current in-between solution involves web form fills, leading to outbound call transfers after providing contact information in exchange for a fast and free quote. 

As an industry, we must do better. The path forward requires giving power back to the people — providing the tools, education, and resources they need to make the best choices for themselves and their families. The potential for such a shift is evident, considering the noticeable embrace of cutting-edge innovation by this cohort and the amount of time that seniors are now spending online, especially on social platforms. If these tools are within reach, why shouldn’t they become the standard for the Medicare industry?

There needs to be a market where researching, comparing, and enrolling in Medicare plans online becomes the norm. A better scenario where beneficiaries can navigate the digital landscape without feeling lost, overwhelmed, or hunted. Companies need to become partners, not rely on fear-based marketing to aggressively push sales. Those tactics of the past will not work on Boomers who have spent their entire lives pushing for progress and better solutions to structural issues. By building bridges of empowerment, we can redefine the Medicare experience and ensure that beneficiaries are equipped with the necessary tools and knowledge to make informed decisions. The people have spoken through market research data, and through their changing behaviors in-market. As the new guard of this changing industry, it’s our job to answer.

Anthony Kavouras is the CEO of OpenMedicare
Anthony Kavouras

Anthony Kavouras is the CEO of OpenMedicare, a platform that helps seniors find the right Medicare health insurance plan. Anthony is passionate about OpenMedicare’s mission to address the need for trust in the search for Medicare and its ability to leverage data and technology to match customers with the right plan. Anthony brings 15 years of leadership experience to the role from companies including GuidedChoice and eHealth.