In new healthcare landscape, it's about the individual

Health insurance companies are finding that they have to make the customer experience more of a priority, according to a study released by Siegel+Gale.

WASHINGTON: Health insurance companies are finding that they have to make the customer experience more of a priority, according to a study released by Siegel+Gale.

Rolf Wulfsberg, global director of qualitative insights at Siegel+Gale, said companies are learning they have to market directly to the consumer and that they have to compete in new ways.

Settling on a health insurance provider is an anxiety-inducing process and source of concern for many consumers, he added.

“One of the biggest challenges for a health insurer is to change the way they think, where they typically didn't think about the member before,” explained Wulfsberg. “Now they have to market completely differently, and that's not an easy transition culturally.”

The agency previously worked with Aetna to help the company understand the shifting environment and how it could reposition a marketing strategy to get the individual consumer's attention. Its work included showing Aetna what consumers care about when they buy insurance, what drives their choices, and how likely they are to recommend their carrier to friends and families.

According to the study – in which 1,000 health insurance customers were surveyed about 13 brand experiences – people can get confused about what their insurance provides, in terms of services, coverage, or materials. Only 1% of respondents said they were unaware if they received ID cards, but 10% said they don't know if they received a welcome packet or explanation of benefits in the past year. Fourteen percent said they do not know if they were given coverage documentation.

Additionally, 36% of respondents were not sure if their insurance plan provides for wellness and disease-management services. While what matters most to consumers varies, the concept of simplicity is “just essential,” Wulfsberg said.

Five insurers were included in the survey: Kaiser Permanente, Humana, WellPoint, UnitedHealth, and Cigna.

Siegel+Gale used a quantitative process called PinPoint to total each insurer's Net Promoter Score. Kaiser Permanente had the highest at 32.3, while Cigna scored the lowest, coming in at -6.8. According to the survey, customers said their satisfaction with Kaiser Permanente had to do with the quality of doctors.

“The new paradigm is to empower individuals to take charge of their own health and that is a massive, massive change,” said Wulfsberg.

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