The 2021 Medicare Annual Election Period (AEP) poses several unique challenges for health insurance providers. Due to COVID-19, seniors are interacting with marketing in different ways, CMS approval times are uncertain, and social distancing is impacting methods of enrollment.

The need for translated documents and language support add another layer of complexity when you want to reach the Limited English Proficiency (LEP) over age 65 demographic. According to a 2017 CMS report, they make up nearly 8% of Medicare beneficiaries nationwide. States with even larger percentages of LEP beneficiaries include:

  • Florida (12%)
  • New Jersey (12%)
  • Texas (13%)
  • New York (16%)
  • Hawaii (19%)
  • California (22%)

 

Fortunately, with the right preparation, you can ensure that the upcoming AEP goes as smoothly as possible. Below is a checklist to help you tackle marketing, CMS requirements, and enrollment in multiple languages.

Marketing

Promote telehealth benefits. Feature telehealth benefits front and center, if your Medicare Advantage plans include them. Seniors are switching to telehealth in greater numbers for routine care due to COVID-19, and need to know if this service is covered. A COVID-19 study that surveyed Medicare recipients found that 18% reported having a telehealth visit compared to 4% prior to the pandemic.

Beneficiaries who have limited English skills may need additional information about remote interpreting options that will help them access telehealth. Roughly 55% of foreign-born individuals age 65 and older reported speaking English ‘less than well’, according to a US Census Bureau survey.

Send direct mail postcards. Send direct mail postcards instead of letters to achieve a higher response rate. Seventeen percent of respondents told Deft Research that they set aside direct mail for a day or more before opening it, and 21% threw out direct mail that they would normally read.

If you send direct mail in multiple languages, include phone numbers or website URLs that recipients can use to access information in their native language.

Buy TV advertising. Keep in mind that seniors who speak limited or no English prefer watching TV in their native language. Don’t forget to buy ads on channels that air programing in those languages. Adding a voice-over or subtitles to the original English-language message is an affordable way to make it accessible. 

CMS Approval

Select a translation provider. Choose a provider that has experience translating Medicare documents such as a plan’s Summary of Benefits, Evidence of Coverage and broker’s marketing materials. Your provider should have management systems in place for both version control and quality control to help guarantee that your documents meet CMS guidelines.

Submit documents early. Given the uncertainty around CMS response times, you should submit your documents as soon as possible. With such a narrow window, it’s important to be one step ahead with your documents in order to reach all eligible prospective members.

Enrollment

Plan virtual AEP seminar meetings. Have a plan to switch from in-person AEP seminars to a virtual format. Social distancing requirements may be in effect, and even if they’re not, seniors may hesitate to meet in-person. In fact, only 12% of Deft’s respondents said they would prefer to meet in-person before enrolling in a plan.

Don’t forget to coordinate with a language services company that can provide remote interpreters to ensure Limited English speakers can participate.

Prepare call centers. Expect a higher volume than usual and prepare your call center accordingly. Sixty-one percent of respondents said they would prefer to speak with an agent over the phone, and 15% would prefer to communicate via email.

Make sure enough bilingual representatives and/or telephone interpreters are available to help Limited English speakers enroll.

Patients Over Paperwork Initiative. Review the most recent updates before you start enrolling beneficiaries. By limiting paperwork, you’ll streamline the process and cut down on confusion, making it easier for eligible LEP individuals to enroll in a plan.

Next Steps

If you’re ready to translate your AEP documentation, CQ Fluency is here to help. We handle the full AEP toolkit including:

  • Evidence of coverage
  • Summary of Benefits
  • Annual Notice of Change
  • Formulary
  • Enrollment application
  • And more

 

We’re also well-versed in multi-cultural marketing, and can adapt your message in over 150 languages.

Contact us today to discuss your AEP needs!