Sales VPs: Reduce Medicare sales via paper!


Paper has its place in the bathroom. However, paper has no place for enrolling a member in a health plan and I bet you will agree with me after you consider these points.

My unscientific, statistically inappropriate sampling of Medicare Advantage plans over the last two years suggests that over 80 percent still use paper applications to sign up seniors for Medicare Part C and D.

Here’s what’s wrong with that:

  • Paper apps allow sales reps, brokers and agents to literally check any box and complete (or leave incomplete) any field on the form. As a result, incomplete and inaccurate applications are a common problem for getting seniors enrolled in MAPD plans.
  • Paper is the worst conceivable data transfer mechanism known to man, with the possible exception of stone tablets. People often write illegibly, causing data entry and validation challenges while systematically reducing quality.
  • Paper applications expose the senior’s most personal health information to breach via physical transportation in briefcases, cars, taxis, mail, FedEx trucks and fax machines.
  • Data entry is required, sometimes into multiple systems. Data entry introduces the opportunity for keying errors and dramatically slows the process, eating away at the seven days CMS allows for getting the senior enrolled.

With this said, I have to ask all the Vice Presidents of Medicare Advantage/Part D Health Plans: Are you trying to reduce your sales during the unreasonably short annual enrollment period?

There can be no other explanation than a vast conspiracy is afoot that looks to create an exceptionally painful enrollment experience for seniors, possible security breaches and the unlikelihood to actually enroll seniors in seven days.

What do I recommend?

It’s pretty simple actually. We have created a solution with our enterprise content management (ECM) platform that allows MAPD plans to slowly wean themselves from their addiction to paper and move into a solution that drives quality, sales, security and a delightful member experience.

Here is what you can do right now:

     1. Immediately redesign your forms for next AEP with an optical character recognition (OCR) solution in mind.

I know, your IT folks will immediately whine that OCR software is imperfect. Please remind them that they are too. After that, note to them that a properly redesigned application can improve the enrollee experience and improve the quality of the entry and validation process. It is inexpensive, proven and allows for an incremental improvement while you are piloting and implementing a digital solution.

     2. Sign seniors up on tablets.

Start with a small group. Maybe it is your captive salespeople or maybe it is a small agency that you work well with. Tablets are a CMS-approved method of capturing MAPD enrollments. I know because we have customers driving MAPD sales via tablets.

The process is very simple:

  • Sales representative’s appointments are sent directly and securely to their tablets. All information is encrypted. The rep goes to the senior and enters the information directly into the tablet with the senior.
  • The software overlays the entered data onto your CMS-Approved form and the senior and rep both sign using electronic signatures. Everything is locked down in an unchangeable PDF, encrypted, and stored on the tablet.
  • The tablet is typically not connected to the internet during the meeting with the senior, so when the rep hits a local Starbucks or their home office, the data and signed form are securely transferred directly to HQ.
  • Workflow software at HQ ensures that all data and forms are complete and accurate. Appropriate systems are updated. The app is uploaded to CMS.  Usually within 24 hours of the signature.
  • Your staff votes you as boss of the year as they get twice as much work done during the day and still go home by 5pm during AEP to see their families.

     3. Provide superior service and profitability.

You increase sales, market share and the number of happy MAPD Members. Your competitors cringe and try to copy you, but they are too late.

So, do us all a favor, flush your paper. It does not belong in your sales process. It is time to begin the change to digital enrollments.

This post was originally published on Pulse.

Mike Hurley is a veteran health insurance expert and contributor to the Hyland Blog.
Mike Hurley

Mike Hurley

Mike Hurley is a veteran health insurance expert and contributor to the Hyland Blog.

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