Marketers Beware: Seniors Are Far From a Typical Healthcare Consumer

SEP 16

The U.S. is on the verge of a dramatic demographic shift as more than 10,000 Baby Boomers turn 65 each day.  This startling demographic change has tremendous implications for our society, ranging from the availability and utilization of our healthcare resources to the staggering, uncontrollable economic cost of providing medical care and support services.

While the problem is wide-spread, the age of Health Reform has shifted the traditional health delivery model to one focused on the individual.  In our research on seniors, TripleTree has unearthed several emerging themes that introduce improved transparency, advocacy, and choice into the senior’s decision-making process regarding their health and prescription drug coverage.  As a result, the senior becomes the focal point to improved coverage that better aligns with their specific health needs as well as cuts unnecessary cost and waste out of the purchasing and enrollment process.

The following themes highlight a few examples of how an alignment around the senior has played into the strategies of large corporate entities as well as emerging innovators that specialize in combining technology with high-touch service capabilities.

Leveraging “Brand”

The new generation of seniors will be much more retail-savvy, will demand greater transparency, and will have improved information tools to help guide all aspects of their health-related spending.  Recognizing this, retailers such as Wal-Mart, Walgreens, and CVS/Caremark are strongly positioned to leverage their trusted brand within the decision-making processes of seniors.

  • Wal-Mart, through a recently announced co-branded Medicare Part D prescription drug plan with Humana, is already taking advantage of this phenomenon.  The Humana Wal-Mart-Preferred Rx Plan (PDP) is being offered in over 4,000 Wal-Mart pharmacies nationwide, providing substantial cost savings for the 18 million Americans that rely on Medicare Part D for their prescriptions.
  • CVS/Caremark, like Walgreens, has capitalized on an opportunity to expand its platform to include other service-line extensions.  The company’s acquisition of MinuteClinic and subsequently, its rather aggressive expansion strategy have played on the brand’s trusted, neighborhood presence as a means of providing face-to-face care and assistance for seniors and other demographics.

Unique Demands & Approaches

While the complexities of comparing and procuring health insurance are much greater than that of other day-to-day purchasing decisions, new industry dynamics are driving the demand for solutions that can address both the functional requirements of health insurance exchanges as well as the purchasing preferences of seniors.  New innovative approaches are being developed to address the emerging demands of this new healthcare marketplace.

  • Transparency: Several emerging vendors – such as ConnextionsBenefitfocus, and Extend Health – have established themselves as trusted sources of information within the health and prescription drug coverage procurement process.  Their solutions interface with multiple data feeds (including eligibility, subsidy, health plan, premium data, etc.) and present this data in an easy-to-use, consumer-friendly format that can be understood and relied upon by the senior.
  • High-Touch Advocacy: Companies that layer personalized advocacy and support services over their core technology are a step ahead as the requisite technology-services mix comes together to enable a comprehensive yet flexible approach that caters to the personal buying habits and technological proficiency of a diverse senior population.
  • Establishing Trust in the Decision-Making Process: Seniors, to an extent greater than their younger peer groups, have a more pronounced set of preferences and possible reservations when it comes to making decisions regarding their health and prescription drug coverage.  This dynamic – which is only exacerbated as the senior ages and experiences accelerated cognitive impairment – introduces greater uncertainty and the potential for mistrust within the purchasing process.  To combat any negative preconceptions, companies that wish to market successfully to seniors must be disciplined in how they incorporate an easy-to-understand decision-making framework with personalized, high-touch guidance and support.

Soon, our research team will be publishing a series of reports on the Seniors market.  A range of themes are evaluated in the context of providing seniors with greater access to resources, support, and decision-making tools as they increasingly desire to age independently in the home.   Let us know if you’d like a copy.

Have a great week.

Seth Kneller
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