AEP 2021: A 6-step Guide for Your Sales and Marketing Team During COVID-19 > Read our introductory post on AEP 2021
Every year at this time, Medicare Advantage Organizations (MAO) begin the tedious practice of preparing plan materials for the upcoming year. There are many challenges that your team will face in the development process; version control; staffing and budget resources, changing CMS requirements; all of which leads to delays and errors. Having a plan beginning with the model population through the actual mailing is critical for a successful enrollment season.
First step in preparing your documents is to determine where you will store working files for your team to update regularly for CMS submission. Utilizing a cloud management system will help with access and version control. As the model documents are built within Microsoft Word, having a team member or external vendor with experience in using all the functions of the software is critical. This will help to avoid “breaking” the model. What does this mean? There are formatting formulas hidden within the document that help with chapter table of contents, maintaining proper headers and footers and preparation for remediating the document for 508 compliance.
After entering all plan information, your team will submit to CMS for document review. As regulations are continuously changing, allow up to 45 days to receive feedback or approval. During this time, you should be working on your member mailing list, preparing document covers and determining print specifications and quantities for your printer. Having these steps completed will minimize the time to go to print and get materials to your sales team.
With October 1 as the deadline for mailing existing members the Annual Notice of Change booklet, knowing the amount of time it will take to print and mail is critical. Allowing up to 10 business days for your printer along with an additional 3-5 days for mailing first class is a typical guideline. Working with a vendor that can handle both ends of this process will create a better workflow.
At the same time materials are being printed, prepping files for translations and 508 compliance can be done. Your translation vendor will need several days for smaller documents, up to a month for larger ones like the Evidence of Coverage. It is important to discuss with your vendor any local dialects for the languages of your membership. For 508 remediation, you want to work with a vendor who has a complete understanding of current standards. Simply passing the Acrobat Accessibility test is not enough. Your vendor should be able to test to these standards, and provide a validation report for each document completed.
Now that you have completed all the steps for your marketing materials, MAOs should consider these additional steps to help ensure member satisfaction: • Create a web storefront for ordering documents and replacement materials, • Establish a return mail management program for updating your member roster, • Utilize call center outreach programs for provider data accuracy, and • Offer incentive programs to reward your members for maintaining their overall health.
Remember this saying: “proper preparation prevents poor performance.”
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AEP 2021: 6-Step Guide