The Senior Segment Is Growing Fast-And They’re Going Online For Health Insurance
Do you know Kathleen Casey-Kirschling? Born in Philadelphia on Jan. 1, 1946, at 12:00:01 AM, she’s considered the first of America’s 76 million Baby Boomers born in the two decades after World War II. Along with recent changes to Medicare, health insurance agents serving the senior market face a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. The 65+ heath insurance segment is going to be huge.and they’re increasingly online.
This will be a bonanza for many agents – especially if they have the knowledge to serve and the right tools to capture this market.
Scope of Growth
The U.S. Census Bureau estimates there are currently more than 38 million seniors aged 65 and over-and that doesn’t include the Baby Boomers!
To some fanfare, Casey-Kirschling turned 62 and applied for social security benefits at the beginning of this year. In less than three years, she’ll be able to apply for Medicare coverage. She’ll be followed by another 70 million Baby Boomers.
By 2050, the Census Bureau estimates that the senior population will crest at about 86.7 million people – an increase of about 128% over today!
As Casey-Kirschling and other seniors apply for Medicare, they’ll have the option of choosing individual health and supplemental coverage from private carriers. Even retirees previously covered by their former employers are being forced to choose Medicare.
Many of them will rely on health insurance professionals like you to guide them into the right Medicare Advantage or supplemental plans for them.
Seniors Increasingly Online
The senior segment of the population has long trailed all the younger segments in its use of the Internet. But they are closing the gap and are now the fastest growing segment of the Internet population.
In 1996, only 2% of seniors (age 65 and older) were using the Internet.
By 2000, more than 15% of seniors were going online, according to the Pew Center’s Internet and American Life Project. And four years later, that percentage had grown to more than 22% of seniors.
At the start of this year, more than 1/3 of all seniors use the Internet. That’s still low when compared to the general population where more than 75% of all American adults use the Internet.
But a more important trend is that nearly 4 out of every 5 Baby Boomers regularly use the Internet. Just as Baby Boomers have defined the past four decades, they will also redefine retirement and seniors’ use of the web.
And even though seniors are currently far behind younger users in their Internet use, seniors who do go online are just as avid about the web. According to the Pew Center, “Wired seniors are often as enthusiastic as younger users in the major activities that define online life such as email and the use of search engines to answer a specific question. Also, wired seniors are as likely as younger users to go online on a typical day.”
The Opportunity for Individual Health Agents
When we look at what seniors are doing online, we see why so many health insurance carriers, brokers and agents are excited about the opportunities in the senior market.
Not only has the government-supported Medicare system opened up to private carriers, Medicare- and Medicaid-related programs are the primary concern for seniors – especially those online.
In general, seniors are less likely than the general population to search for health information on the web. BUT, seniors are very concerned about senior health insurance – searching for Medicare and Medicaid more than twice as often as all younger users.
Technology to Handle the Numbers
Don’t make the mistake of thinking that this “silver tsunami” will mean tremendous business for all agents. Technology and the right products will end up driving most seniors shopping for individual health coverage to only select agents.
The challenge is to make sure you’re one of these top producers with the right tools to serve this market:
- •Senior programs
According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, 8.3 million seniors are currently enrolled with the Medicare Advantage (private carrier) program – nearly 1/4 of all seniors. An additional 17.4 million seniors purchase Part-D prescription drug coverage plans.
- •Quoting engine
The Norvax quote engine will soon offer a senior quoting feature that lets users obtain immediate pricing on the supplemental plans that cover many of the expenses Medicare doesn’t. Just as the basic quote engine has allowed agents to increase their productivity by 2500%, senior quoting will allow producers to serve many more senior clients each day.
- •Drip marketing system
The predominant Internet activity among seniors is email. Wired seniors actually use email more regularly than younger Internet users. With a drip marketing email autoresponder like LeadMiner, agents can send reminder emails to thousands of seniors with just a click of the mouse.
Each year, more seniors are going online to find the information and agent they need to choose the right Medicare Advantage or supplemental plan. Top producers have the opportunity to capture this golden market – but only if they have the right tools.