Importance of Targeting in Direct Mail Campaigns
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Importance of Targeting in Direct Mail Campaigns

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September 11, 2009

The following is an excerpt from a larger case study of Connecticut’s efforts to improve the enrollment of Medicare beneficiaries in Medicare Savings Programs (MSPs). Their efforts highlight the importance of targeting in direct mail campaigns. An outreach mailing to enrollees in Connecticut’s pharmacy assistance program (ConnPACE) proved far more effective in generating applications (and presumably enrollments) than a more general prior mailing undertaken by the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) for a similar purpose.

Who was the target audience?

Medicare beneficiaries potentially eligible for an MSP.

What did they do?

Connecticut’s Department of Social Services chose to conduct targeted mailings, in partnership with AARP and local SHIP programs, to enrollees in the ConnPACE program. Pharmacy assistance beneficiaries were chosen as a target audience because the eligibility criteria for the pharmacy program were similar to those of Connecticut’s Medicare Savings Programs. Based on Connecticut’s expanded income limit for the Medicare Savings Programs, a person eligible for the pharmacy benefit would also be eligible for the Medicare Savings Programs, as long as the asset guidelines were met. State officials began the mailings after the Department of Social Services approved the removal of the asset test for the Qualifying Individual (QI) program (one of the MSPs).

The mailing packets included:

  • A one-page, bilingual letter from AARP, which included the SHIP toll-free number for applicants to call for more information about the programs.
  • A Medicare Savings Programs brochure that reflected the elimination of the QI asset test.
  • A coded short form application.
  • A postage-paid envelope addressed to the Medicaid Agency.


What was the result?

The mailing packet was sent to 30,000 ConnPACE recipients, with 4,800 MSP applications received – a 16% response rate. The mailing to the state pharmacy assistance recipients was significantly more successful than previous mailings that were addressed to the general population – generating nearly 15 times more applications.

Department of Social Services officials concluded that the pharmacy program recipients are a very receptive target population for Medicare Savings Programs outreach; they are, according to officials in the state, “very much on the cusp financially, have some familiarity with benefit programs, and are seeking ways to help their meet their medical costs.” The agency indicated that there was a large enrollment increase after the mailings indicating that many persons who applied were approved for benefits. Officials believed that the removal of the QI-1 asset test enabled many persons to qualify; if applicants had excess resources for the Qualified Medicare Beneficiary (QMB) or Specified Low-Income Medicare Beneficiary (SLMB) program, they could still qualify for the QI benefits.

For more information

K. Glaun, “Medicaid Programs To Assist Low Income Medicare Beneficiaries: Working Paper on Medicare Savings Programs in Connecticut.” Kaiser Commission on Medicaid and the Uninsured (2002). View the full report.

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