Health Plans Face Under-Informed Consumers

Christopher Cheney, for HealthLeaders Media , March 12, 2014

And, Blais told me that Connect for Health Colorado hopes to continually improve its website to provide consumers with "more robust tools to inspire confidence in the decisions they have to make."

With outreach and education funding for the public exchanges certain to decrease over time, Blais says creating more self-sufficient consumers is critically important to sustaining the new exchange market. Citing the need to reduce in-person customer service as a financial necessity, she says the Colorado exchange team is focusing on a key question: "How do we make the technology do some of the heavy lifting for us?"

It's 'A New World'
For decades, most health plans have relied on agents and brokers to handle the customer service side of their business. With consumers considering options to employer-sponsored health insurance such as policies on public and private exchanges, retail was a hot topic at last week's AHIP exchange forum.

Billing is a relatively easy way for health plans to build relationships with individual consumers, several AHIP forum speakers said. Billing helps a health plan establish regular contact with members, said Mark Waterstraat, chief strategy officer with Omaha, Nebraska-based Benaissance. "Every month, they see you," Waterstraat told one of the small groups of forum attendees who had signed up for seminars that included lunch right before the forum kicked off. "It wasn't a Google search that brought the consumer to you on a one-time basis."

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