Health Insurance Enrollment Education is Lacking

July 17, 2014 Marijah Adams Cleek

When asked, most people will say that the biggest problem with the Affordable Care Act was the shaky rollout of enrollment websites. They’re wrong.

The biggest problem with the Affordable Care Act and health insurance in general is that people who are buying policies don’t understand what they’re buying or how to use it. Hands down, zero competition — lack of information and education takes the cake.

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I’ve seen articles like this several times. I’ve even written about it before, a few times.  But it seems that a lot of companies are still missing the main point.

Cost Transparency Doesn’t Explain an HSA

There’s a large push right now for price transparency in the healthcare industry, and to that I say, “Yes!” It would be so awesome to know the expected costs exactly before accepting medical treatments.

Unfortunately, that doesn’t help anyone understand what an HSA is or who their in-network doctor is. And if buyers can’t figure out the basic components of their plans, they may not be selecting the right plan. Meaning they will most likely become disgruntled when they find out their plan doesn’t cover what they need or want.

That’s a lose-lose situation.

Turn it into a Win-Win Situation 

I’ve talked with a lot of people about health insurance, and they all seem to have differing ideas of who’s responsible for their healthcare education.

Some say it’s up to the doctor to explain their insurance since it’s their doctor who gets paid to perform treatment.

Others feel it’s up to the government to make them knowledgeable about the massive healthcare changes that just took place.

A few even said it’s their own fault for not knowing more while simultaneously sharing overwhelmed feelings about their lack of understanding the changes.

But mostly, the people I talk with believe it’s up to the insurance provider to outline the policies they are selling in an easy to understand format.

I tend to agree with the latter.

I wouldn’t drop my car off at a mechanic and expect them to know the ins and outs of my warranty. And never, in the history of ever, would I think that I could read that tiny-print pamphlet of coverage and remember or understand everything inside of it. That’s what my attorney is for.

So, insurance providers, let us explore three highly effective ways to improve understanding.

  1. Side-by-side comparison charts – If someone wants to see the plans you offer, make it as uncomplicated as possible. Provide easy to digest layouts for customers to quickly and easily peruse all available options.
  2. Interactive virtual assistants (IVAs) – IVAs reduce enrollment stress by offering on-the-spot education to customers. When a customer is shopping for a plan, they don’t want to stop, open a new tab, and Google search “metal levels” or whatever term they don’t comprehend. So, enlist the help of an avatar that will explain the term on the same page. And then enjoy the plethora of other benefits provided by an IVA, like higher first-time form completion rates or reduced error rates.
  3. Good customer service options – Make your customer service information easy to find and staff so that the wait time isn’t 30 minutes. Your website should have an easy to find phone number, email address, and/or chat feature. Remember that customers shouldn’t have to spend more than a few seconds trying to figure out how to contact your business or waiting for a response just so they can buy your product. If you want their business, show them you respect their time and concerns.

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