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Jasmine Crenshaw, MPH
Content Marketing Strategist
It’s always great when your Medicare Advantage members use your health plan to its full extent—but what happens when they don’t?

Research shows: members drop off. However, this isn’t always due to a lack of understanding from the member: Maybe some of your members could no longer afford your plan 1,2, lost their income 3, or just felt unsatisfied with your offerings.4 No matter the reason, these members ultimately felt that leaving your plan was the best decision they could make. But, there are ways to prevent us from getting to this point.

Between 2013 and 2014, 14% of MA members enrolled in a plan with a lower Star rating switched to another plan.

Before we dive into possible solutions to help reduce member churn, let’s discuss how your members might have arrived at this decision.

Out of all reasons for member churn, affordability and plan satisfaction remain the biggest reasons why members leave or switch their Medicare Advantage (MA) plans. In fact, a 2016 Kaiser Family Foundation study concluded that about 1 in 10 Medicare Advantage members switched plans back to mostly traditional Medicare plans during 2014; some of the reasons given for the switch included member age and plan cost.5 Additionally, lack of satisfaction with the MA plan can be a hard obstacle to overcome. Between 2013 and 2014, 14% of MA members enrolled in a plan with a lower Star rating switched to another plan, compared to those who were enrolled in MA plans with higher Star ratings.5 With the 2023 Medicare Advantage Star measures placing more emphasis on member experience and satisfaction 6, now is the best time to understand your member base and develop strategies that (1) can reduce member churn, (2) keep members engaged, and (3) keep members on track to achieve health goals or manage their condition. 

The 3 B’s of Keeping Your MA Members Aligned and Engaged

Developing a patient engagement strategy is the best way to ensure that your members are consistently using their plan, satisfied with their plan, and fully knowledgeable about what your plan has to offer. While this might sound like a big undertaking, it doesn’t have to be! Here are three strategies to include in your patient engagement strategy to avoid churn, keep current members satisfied, and attract new ones – boost knowledge, build rapport, and bridge gaps with solutions that matter.  

The 3 B's of Member Engagement

Boost Knowledge

Ensure members are fully aware of offerings by crafting clear informational materials with your offerings as well as how to access them.

Build Member Rapport

Building rapport through omnichannel communication and inbound support shows your members that you will go the extra mile.

Bridge Gaps with Solutions

Address barriers to access and social determinants of health with solutions that your members will want to use.

Boost Member Knowledge

With members becoming more knowledgeable about their health, your health plan should make sure that they are fully aware of all offerings. Many Medicare Advantage plans include additional offerings compared to traditional Medicare plans, such as eye exams and Special Needs Plans, but your members might not know.7 While many Medicare Advantage members use the Medicare website and the annually released guide, Medicare and You,8 to help discover the best plan for them, some members have found other sources more helpful.9

Research shows that MA plan members found the necessary information for identifying a plan through their insurance companies via seminars in their communities, mailers, and other methods.9 A JD Power and Associates study found that over 75% of Medicare Advantage members were registered for their plan’s digital portal in 2021, slightly more than the previous year.10 The demand is there: Your members want to engage with you and receive all of the information they can about what you offer.11 Crafting clear informational materials (in print and digital) with your offerings, how to access them, and who to call with questions is paramount to helping members understand who you are as a plan and how your plan is best for their individual health needs.

Build Rapport with Your Members

Now that you have established easy-to-follow and accessible informational materials about your health plan, your members will feel like they are being supported by learning more about your offerings. Building rapport with your MA member base through inbound support and omnichannel communication is the next step in making sure that your beneficiaries feel that they can be successful with your plan. With inbound support, your members can speak to knowledgeable agents/advisors that can provide all necessary information and resources to members.12,13 Also, this support should be available to your members in the way they prefer, whether by email, call, or text.14 Building rapport through omnichannel communication and inbound support provides you the opportunity to show your members that you will go the extra mile and that you sincerely care about their well-being.  

Bridge Gaps with Solutions that Matter

By building knowledge and rapport with members, they will feel that your health plan consistently engages with them, instead of just the first few times after signing up during open enrollment. What else can seal the deal in terms of engagement? Bridge gaps in care with solutions that your MA members truly want. This strategy should directly address barriers to access, which is essential in helping to reduce churn and keeping them engaged.

Solutions that address social determinants of health15 among members have remained among the most popular and successful programs to be included in health plan strategies, such as meal delivery programs16 and medication reminders.17 For example, one Journal of Medical Internet Research (JMIR) study 17 investigated if tailored text messaging could improve medication refills among Medicare patients with chronic conditions and found that there was an increase in refills among the group who received the text reminders. When members have programs that matter to them, they will stay engaged and involved in improving their own health. 

Meal delivery programs and medication reminders are two solutions that can help address social determinants of health among your MA members.

Boosting knowledge, building rapport, and bridging gaps can help your health plan to develop a patient engagement strategy that works and that can help reduce member churn. Through all three strategies, your member base will feel seen, heard, and respected. To them, your health plan will be the gateway to better health, rather than just another dead end. 

Article updated 10/31/2023


  1. Ochieng N, Biniek JF. Beneficiary experience, affordability, utilization, and quality in Medicare Advantage and traditional Medicare: A review of the literature. Kaiser Family Foundation. September 16, 2022. Accessed September 26, 2022. https://www.kff.org/medicare/report/beneficiary-experience-affordability-utilization-and-quality-in-medicare-advantage-and-traditional-medicare-a-review-of-the-literature/  
  2. Willcoxon N. Older adults sacrificing basic needs due to healthcare costs. Gallup. June 15, 2022. Accessed September 26, 2022. https://news.gallup.com/poll/393494/older-adults-sacrificing-basic-needs-due-healthcare-costs.aspx  
  3. Nguyen QC. Health insurance churn: The basics. Community Catalyst. Accessed September 26, 2022. https://www.communitycatalyst.org/resources/publications/document/Health-Insurance-Churn-November-2016_FINAL.pdf  
  4. Meyers DJ, Belanger E, Joyce N, McHugh J, Rahman M, Mor V. Analysis of Drivers of Disenrollment and Plan Switching Among Medicare Advantage Beneficiaries. JAMA Intern Med. 2019;179(4):524–532. doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2018.7639 – https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamainternalmedicine/fullarticle/2725083\ 
  5. Jacobson G, Neuman T, Damico A. Medicare Advantage plan switching: Exception or norm? KFF. September 20, 2016. Accessed September 26, 2022. https://www.kff.org/report-section/medicare-advantage-plan-switching-exception-or-norm-issue-brief/  
  6. Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). 2023 Medicare Advantage and Part D Star Ratings. October 6, 2022. CMS Newsroom. Accessed November 22, 2022. https://www.cms.gov/newsroom/fact-sheets/2023-medicare-advantage-and-part-d-star-ratings#_ftn4 
  7. Jacobson G, Cicchiello A, Sutton JP, Shah A. Medicare Advantage vs. Traditional Medicare: How do beneficiaries’ characteristics and experiences differ? (Commonwealth Fund, Oct. 2021). Accessed 10/12/2022.  https://doi.org/10.26099/yxq0-1w42 
  8. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. Medicare & You 2023. Accessed November 20, 2022. https://www.medicare.gov/medicare-and-you   
  9. Rivera-Hernandez M, Blackwood KL, Mercedes M, Moody KA. Seniors don’t use Medicare.Gov: how do eligible beneficiaries obtain information about Medicare Advantage Plans in the United States?. BMC Health Serv Res. 2021;21(1):146. Published 2021 Feb 15. doi:10.1186/s12913-021-06135-7 
  10. JD Power and Associates. Fewer Medicare Advantage Plan Members Actively Managed Their Health during Pandemic, J.D. Power Finds. June 17, 2021. Accessed June 23, 2022. https://www.jdpower.com/business/press-releases/2021-us-medicare-advantage-study  
  11. Henry J, Barker W, Kachay L. Electronic capabilities for patient engagement among U.S. non-federal acute care hospitals: 2013-2017. The Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology. April 2019. Accessed November 20, 2022.  
  12. Ali R, Cicchiello A, Hanger M, Hellow L, Williams K, et al. How agents influence Medicare beneficiaries’ plan choices. The Commonwealth Fund. April 21, 2021. Accessed November 20, 2022. https://www.commonwealthfund.org/publications/fund-reports/2021/apr/how-agents-influence-medicare-beneficiaries-plan-choices 
  13. McMullen M. How health plans can improve member growth and retention by offering digital solutions. Fitbit Health Solutions. April 12, 2022. Accessed November 21, 2022. https://healthsolutions.fitbit.com/blog/how-health-plans-can-improve-member-growth-and-retention-by-offering-digital-solutions/  
  14. Ablett D. Omni-channel communication elevates quality of care. McKnights Long-Term Care News. November 19, 2020. Accessed November 21, 2022. https://www.mcknights.com/marketplace/marketplace-experts/holistic-omni-channel-communications-elevates-quality-of-care/   
  15. Better Medicare Alliance. NORC at the University of Chicago. Case study report: Innovative approaches to addressing social determinants of health for Medicare Advantage beneficiaries. January 2022. Accessed November 22, 2022. https://bettermedicarealliance.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/01/SDOH-Case-Studies-NORC-Report-Jan-2022.pdf 
  16. Hager K, Cudhea FP, Wong JB, et al. Association of National Expansion of Insurance Coverage of Medically Tailored Meals With Estimated Hospitalizations and Health Care Expenditures in the US. JAMA Netw Open. 2022;5(10):e2236898. doi:10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2022.36898 
  17. Brar Prayaga R, Jeong EW, Feger E, Noble HK, Kmiec M, Prayaga RS. Improving Refill Adherence in Medicare Patients With Tailored and Interactive Mobile Text Messaging: Pilot Study. JMIR Mhealth Uhealth. 2018;6(1):e30. Published 2018 Jan 30.   

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