On July 30, Medicare will celebrate 50 years since it was signed into law and people are celebrating Medicare in different ways.
Medicare Rights is running a poll asking people to make wishes for Medicare’s future and is posting one wish each day until July 30. NPR covered the birthday by highlighting a Yale study that looked at the improvements in healthcare coverage since Medicare was introduced. At the official commemoration on Wednesday, Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia M. Burwell said “Medicare and Medicaid aren't just about health care; they are about who we are as a nation, about living up to our own values.”
Although Medicare has come a long way since its inception and has provided help to millions of families, people are still confused about their options and benefits. Has your website gone through a “senior sensitivity training?” Does it allow for seniors to enroll on their own without having to call someone? Baby boomers are becoming more and more familiar with the Internet and are willing to spend hours researching their options according to a Connecture study. This includes reviewing carriers as well as brokers websites.
Technology is the Future
At the White House’s recent Conference on Ageing, it was clear that technology is a common theme when it comes to making the next 50 years of Medicare just as successful as the last 50. Ten thousand people age in to Medicare every day. While Medicare itself may still be too complicated, there are tools and technologies that make it easier for seniors to understand their options and help navigate the myriad of plan choices.
More and more companies are developing technologies with the senior in mind. Drug cost calculators and provider finders make things easier, but it seems to end there. Seniors can track their health behavior on smartphones and are offered 24/7 access to telehealth services. But when it comes to navigating the Medicare landscape and understanding what plan is best, seniors are still not being provided the best tools. Sometimes they have no choice but to spend hours on the phone with call center agents.
Is your website going beyond making sure that beneficiaries can easily enroll in your plans without being confused and having to talk with someone at a call center? Have you studied your drop off rates and exit pages recently? Turning 65 can be a disconcerting milestone event for some people. Seniors may not be comfortable talking to a much younger customer service agent with varying degrees of expertise. Avatars are consistent in their quality and studies show that people prefer to engage with an Avatar than a real live person.
The Medicare Rights poll results show an interesting array of possible improvements to Medicare. A lot of people are confused and looking for Congress to enhance beneficiary education on quality and star ratings scores across all parts of Medicare. Others are confused on the process on navigating through multiple state and federal agencies to apply for low-income assistance programs. Seniors may not quite understand the potential gaps in coverage during the IEP and GEPs. Or seniors do not understand why they have been denied access to a health care service or prescription. Are you providing enough information about appeal rights? Are you getting too many calls on these topics?
One thing, I know for sure is getting the government to implement these wishes will take longer than putting a virtual assistant on your site that will help explain what to do, how to use your site’s tools and reduce unnecessary calls to your call center.
My Wish for Medicare
Aside from wishing Medicare Happy Birthday and many more years of funding, I wish that Medicare health insurance websites will become more consumer-friendly and that Medicare becomes simpler. Some folks even say that Medicare is more complex than Obamacare. Why would we subject our senior population to something more complex?
So take a moment to wish Medicare Happy Birthday and empower seniors and retirees to select their own benefits with technology that younger generations use every day.
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About the Author
As Director of Healthcare Consulting, Ray is focused on CodeBaby’s healthcare specific customers and delivering on CodeBaby’s mission of customer centricity. With over 20 years of experience in medical devices, healthcare and technology, specifically: ehealth, health insurance, and software, Ray is a subject matter expert who contributes to industry articles, and speaks at trade shows and events.Follow on Twitter More Content by Ray Catudal