Washington, DC, August 12, 2021 – Greenwald Research (Greenwald), a leading independent custom research firm and consulting partner to the health and wealth industries, released new industry research, which provides a 360-degree view of how Medicare is marketed and distributed today, including brand strengths and weaknesses among both consumers and brokers, drivers of loyalty and satisfaction, and opportunities for growth.
In partnership with the American Association for Medicare Supplement Insurance, Greenwald surveyed 508 Medicare brokers, 1,023 healthcare consumers between 64 and 68 years old, and executives at 5 national field marketing organizations (FMOs) for the Medicare Marketing & Distribution Research Program. The research program also shares data on the differing approaches and motivations of Medicare brokers, areas of opportunity for Medicare products and brokerage services, and carrier selection and rankings, among other important topics.
The Medicare Market Today
Based on interviews with the FMO executives, a lack of clear succession planning for retiring brokers and advancement of technology in the industry have contributed to the consolidation of distribution and increases in the direct selling of Medicare products. With many brokers nearing retirement age themselves, there is an indication that this trend of consolidation is likely to continue.
While 46% of brokers believe that Medicare sales will eventually become completely virtual due to technological advancements, 91% of brokers believe that there will continue to be a role for them in Medicare sales and distribution. The challenge for Medicare brokers moving forward will be to determine how to evolve their roles to continue providing value to retiring consumers.
“Medicare brokers have varying needs based on the range of products they are selling, the audiences that they are focused on, and their growth trajectories,” said Edna Vasquez-Dretzka, study author and Managing Director, Healthcare at Greenwald Research. “This research provides clarity into who these brokers are and how you can tailor your support to meet their personal and professional needs.”
Medicare Broker Types
Results of the research program revealed that there are three distinct types of Medicare sellers: Medicare specialists, retirement specialists, and generalists. Their differing approaches and motivations for selling Medicare products indicate varying levels of interest in and preparedness for discussing other insurance and financial needs of retiring consumers. Each broker type also emphasized having different support needs from both carriers and FMOs.
Medicare specialists represent 35% of brokers, or 179 of all study participants. These brokers are lifestyle brokers, with 46% reporting that they’re motivated to sell Medicare because of the flexible schedule. Medicare specialists are focused on individual Medicare sales, as 87% get more than 80% of business from individual sales. Their marketing needs include assistance setting up online presence, lead generation, and marketing support. From agency partners, Medicare specialists are specifically looking for digital tools and opportunities for continuing education and training.
Retirement specialists represent 45% of brokers or 227 of all study participants. 48% of these brokers are motivated to sell Medicare because they were already selling other insurance products. In fact, these brokers sell the greatest number of products besides Medicare and 31% receive less than a quarter of their commission from Medicare sales. They sell 401Ks and annuities. Their marketing needs include better understanding of competition in the area, plan comparison tools, and cross-selling support. From agency partners, retirement specialists are specifically looking for flexibility in the commission structure and for them to have good carrier relationships.
Generalists represent 20% of brokers or 102 of all study participants. Similar to retirement specialists, 43% of these generalists are motivated to sell Medicare because they were already selling other insurance products and they sell the second largest variety of products besides Medicare after retirement specialists. Of these brokers, 30% receive less than a quarter of their commission from Medicare sales. One of the largest differentiators between the two groups is that generalists do not sell any 401K or annuity products. Their greatest marketing needs include marketing support and access to better technology for virtual sales. From agency partners, generalists are specifically looking for high-level, agent servicing.
About the Medicare Marketing & Distribution Research Program
The 2021 Medicare Marketing & Distribution Research Program was conducted using online surveys and telephone interviews between March 1, 2021 and April 15, 2021. The program studied three primary audiences, including 1,023 health plan consumers aged 64-68, 508 health insurance brokers who sell group or individual Medicare, and 5 Medicare distributors. Neither the consumer nor the broker surveys were weighted.
Complete findings from the Medicare Marketing & Distribution Research Program are available for public purchase. To become a partner and gain early access to results in future studies, contact Greenwald.
About Greenwald Research
Greenwald Research is a leading independent custom research firm and consulting partner to the health and wealth industries that applies creative quantitative and qualitative methods to produce knowledge that helps companies stay competitive and navigate industry change. By leveraging deep subject matter expertise and a trusted consultative approach, Greenwald offers comprehensive services for weaving rich research stories that answer strategic business questions. Visit greenwaldresearch.com to learn more.
About American Association for Medicare Supplement Insurance
The American Association for Medicare Supplement Insurance (AAMSI) supports insurance professionals and organizes the national Medicare insurance industry conference. AAMSI also hosts the national online directory providing consumers with free access to find local Medicare insurance brokers and agents. Visit medicaresupp.org to learn more.