Health Plans Face Under-Informed Consumers

Christopher Cheney, for HealthLeaders Media , March 12, 2014

He says one of the keys for health plans offering policies on exchanges is to make is easy for members to pay, including checks, money orders, credit and debit cards, online payment and call centers. "Different people pay in different ways," Waterstraat said.

Kevin P. Kelly, a principal at Deloitte Consulting and midwife to the apparently successful public exchanges in Connecticut, Kentucky, Rhode Island, and Washington, says exchange officials literally have no business billing health plan members. Insisting carriers that should always handle billing, Kelly says, "Push it to where it belongs – to people who are really good at it."

The consumer was front and center in a conversation I had Tuesday with the director of J.D. Power and Associates' healthcare practice. We were talking about J.D. Power's 2014 Member Health Plan Study, which was released Monday. Based on data collected in December and January, the report gauges consumer satisfaction with US health plans by region and by markers such as trustworthiness and communication with members.

Rick Millard, who holds several university degrees including a doctorate in clinical psychology and an MBA, says the 2014 consumer satisfaction study shows health plans understand the importance of connecting with consumers but there is a learning curve to climb. "Plans are trying to figure this out but it's a new world and it takes time," he told me. "I'm not sure they truly understand how to take on this issue… but hopefully they will continue to make strides."

Christopher Cheney is the senior finance editor at HealthLeaders Media.
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