Six creative benefits outreach strategies
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Six creative benefits outreach strategies

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April 2, 2013 More outreach strategies

Check out our promising practices clearinghouse to learn more successful strategies to conduct benefits outreach.

Organizations use a wide range of methods to educate low-income people with Medicare about the benefits they may be missing. Common among these outreach efforts are mass mailings, paid and earned media advertisements, health fairs, and partnering with local agencies to spread the word.

The 51 national Medicare Improvements for Patients and Providers Act (MIPPA) grantees used all of these—and more! Here are six creative (and successful) approaches MIPPA grantees used to connect with older adults and enroll them in benefits.

1. Community shred. Protecting seniors’ personal information is vital to keeping them safe from fraud. Several counties in Utah organized community shred events, wherein citizens could get sensitive paperwork shredded for free and learn about Medicare. The events featured entertainment and prizes, thus encouraging folks to stick around and learn more about programs and benefits in their community.

2. Relay for Extra Help. North Carolina took its outreach to the streets—literally! SHIP staff invited the Senior Tar Heel Legislature Delegation, a group of older adult advocates from across NC, to be ambassadors in a campaign that kicked off with a walk around the state capitol. Relay for Extra Help was launched statewide, and seniors were encouraged to “relay” the messages about benefits to others in their counties.

3. Ask the Pro. The Southwest Times Record, a newspaper serving western Arkansas includes a bimonthly column “Ask the Pro” targeted at answering questions about retirement. The Arkansas MIPPA grantees used the column as a forum to answer common questions about Medicare coverage, and to direct folks to local SHIP, AAA, and ADRC offices for personalized assistance. As one AR aging official noted, “We received more phone calls and inquiries from this than any other media we used.”

4. Boot camps and birthday clubs. Medicare can be confusing, especially to those aging into it. Several states targeted the new-to-Medicare population with educational sessions to help them navigate the system—and enroll in programs that make Medicare affordable, if they were eligible. Agencies in Missouri and Vermont ran Medicare boot camps for older adults, while in Kentucky those turning 65 became members of a special “birthday club” and received information.

5. GIS mapping. Geographic information system mapping holds great promise for identifying underserved populations, and where to target outreach. One area agency on aging in Connecticut collaborated with Senior Safe Meds to map pharmacies in three areas with potentially large numbers of seniors eligible, but not enrolled in, LIS and MSP. Targeted outreach events and one-on-one assistance were offered in coordination with these local pharmacies.

6. New venues: from book deliveries to beauty salons. MIPPA grantees engaged nearly 10,000 local partners to identify and educate seniors about Medicare benefits, and several found success beyond the aging and health network. The state of Maryland partnered with Liberty Link, a book delivery service for homebound seniors, to include SHIP information among the lending library. The Indiana SHIP partnered with a McDonald’s restaurant in a low-income, rural location to disseminate information, while in Rhode Island, hair salons yielded many new beneficiaries. As the RI SHIP director said, “Non-traditional sites are an effective way to reach eligible beneficiaries who might not otherwise patronize more tradition ‘senior’ sites.”

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