Consumers Are Re-Shopping Health Insurance Plans …. Are You Ready?

August 6, 2015 Ray Catudal

Image of shopping for healthcare onlineWith open enrollment coming up for people with individual plans, it’s important for carriers and brokers to remember that existing customers are just as important as new customers. Consumers will be shopping for better deals and many consumers still review their options to confirm that they have the best plan available and that prices and networks have not changed.

The Numbers

According to the Urban Institute and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation who have been monitoring the effects of the ACA since 2011, more than 75 percent of some organizations' conversations were with enrollees who needed help with renewing coverage. The study also found enrollees engaged in a much higher rate of plan or insurer switching compared to other health insurance contexts. For example, in the federally-facilitated marketplace, 29 percent of enrollees eligible for automatic renewal switched plans.

Furthermore, Connecture, a web-based consumer shopping, enrollment and retention platform for health insurance distribution, found that 80 percent of consumers need guidance when it comes to enrolling in health insurance. And, 43 percent of shoppers spend about 15 minutes or less on shopping for health insurance.

As a carrier or broker, you can’t forget to offer outstanding customer service to existing clients to help them get ready for open enrollment.

The Questions

So the question becomes: Is your website ready to provide a stellar experience that helps consumers understand their options and choices when re-enrolling in 15 minutes or less? Are you proactively reaching out to consumers and making sure you are providing the right tools so they can make decisions and take action directly from your website?

The Answer

Using an avatar can be a great way to explain what to consider when re-shopping, re-determining subsidy eligibility and explaining what is new for 2016. A great way to minimize leakage overall is to utilize an intelligent virtual assistant (IVA) to explain processes verbally before they happen.

For example: Use an IVA to help consumers understand what the consequences may be if their income has changed over the past 12 months. Price and premium tax credit can substantially change if there have been changes to a household size and income.

Consumers can get lost and confused in the plan enrollment process, especially if they are sent to other websites in the process and cannot enroll directly. This can occur when a consumer verifies if they are eligible for a subsidy. After shopping for health coverage on a web broker or health plan site, consumers are then redirected. Estimates are that as many as 50 to 75 percent of consumers get lost at this point. Some may consciously register that they are taken to another site and understand they need to return to the original carrier or broker site. Others get lost in the process and end up enrolling with another carrier on the state or federal exchanges. This confusion will continue until the government implements direct enrollment via Eligibility Verification as a Service (EVaaS). Why not use your avatar to prepare people for the transition before they get sent to another site?

And don’t forget individuals shopping for Medicare plans. Will you or your company’s branded avatar be reaching out to these people to schedule or remind them of an appointment they have to review the options for 2016?

Carriers and brokers, don’t get caught on two sides of the fence trying to lure in new clients one the one side and trying to maintain existing clients on the other. Studies show that it is much harder to acquire a new customer than it is to maintain and expand an existing customer. Don’t forget to continue to offer outstanding customer service to existing clients to help them get ready for enrollment.

Consider differentiating with an IVA that represents your brand and that ensures consumers are re-enrolling in the right plan with the right insurer and prepare them for the upcoming events.


Like this post? Share it with others, and check these out too:

Are You Making it Easier for People to Enroll in Medicare?

3 Steps to Take Now so Consumers Aren't Left Alone to Navigate Healthcare Enrollment

3 Reasons To Invest in Customer Education Before They Buy

About the Author

Ray Catudal

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.

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