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Insurers, Your Plan Members Don't Understand You

health care marketing planDespite the fact that the inaugural launch of federal and state insurance exchanges got off to a rocky start, millions of Americans eventually navigated their way through the frustrating maze of health plan options to choose coverage.

Newly insured consumers are quickly discovering what millions of existing health insurance, Medicare and Medicaid members already know — the confusion doesn’t end when the insurance card arrives. With so many new plan members finding it difficult to understand what it is that they’ve signed on for, it’s time to rethink your health care marketing and member education plans.

The one-size-fits-all messaging that has been a staple for insurers simply won’t meet the needs of an expanded, diverse group of customers.

The Challenge of Translating Insurance Jargon

A recent Kaiser Health News article highlights just how difficult it is for consumers to understand exactly what their policies offer.

According to the U.S. Department of Education, only 1 in 10 people has adequate health literacy to make smart care decisions. Even well-informed consumers can be confused by care summaries filled with hard-to-decipher codes and costs that do not reflect what is actually owed. For newly insured consumers, even basic terms like ‘deductibles’ and ‘co-pays’ can seem like a foreign language.

This lack of understanding undermines the intent of expanded insurance coverage — to improve health and reduce health care costs.

As University of Pennsylvania researcher, Brendan Saloner, tells KHN, “Giving somebody an insurance card and not really telling them what that insurance is going to do for them is not going to produce the health outcomes that we all want to see.” In fact, the Institute of Medicine notes that “people with low ‘health literacy’… are more likely to be hospitalized and use costly emergency rooms.” Isn’t that what insurers want to avoid?

And it’s not just the jargon that is puzzling people. The diversity of consumers across the country has resulted in language and cultural barriers that, thus far, insurers are failing to overcome.

Marisela Sanchez, a new Medi-Cal user in Los Angeles, tells KHN, “It’s hard to understand even if it is Spanish. If it’s in English, it’s worse.” Sanchez’s confusion about how her new insurance works led her to stop taking two necessary medications because she didn’t understand that she was responsible for calling in refills. When she ran out — and the doctor didn’t write a new prescription — Sanchez simply thought she didn’t need the medication any more.

Why Insurers Need a New Approach to Marketing

The health care landscape is transforming, and insurers must adapt to new roles and relationships. What does your health care marketing plan need to address in order to succeed?

  1. Focus Is Shifting from Employers to Consumers: In the past, insurers negotiated with employers, professional organizations and other large groups. Much of this Business-to-Business focus must now transition to a Business-to-Consumer focus as insurers compete on health insurance exchanges to win individual consumers.
  2. Better Informed Consumers Make Better Decisions: Insurers must embrace their role as educators. An influx of new consumers — many of whom are unfamiliar with what an insurance plan entails — requires new strategies to help plan members understand how to get the most out of their coverage. As Susan Pisano of America’s Health Insurance Plans tells KHN, “… patients will take better care of themselves if they understand their benefits.”
  3. Dissatisfied Members Have More Options Today: When members were beholden to whatever plan their employer offered, insurers did not have to work as hard to create outstanding customer experiences. Not so today — if your plan members are unhappy with their experiences, they can shop around next year.   

To develop a more effective health care marketing plan, insurers must have greater insight into health care consumers. Segmentation allows insurers to identify key motivators and influencers:

  • Demographic and socioeconomic background — such as gender, age, ethnicity, income, education
  • Behavioral and attitudinal factors — such as health care utilization or shared attitudes about various subjects like preventative medicine
  • Psychographic attributes — such as shared beliefs, emotions, or lifestyles.

Using consumer segmentation, insurers can develop meaningful member profiles to help them provide more effective communications to educate plan members, nurture member relationships and build brand loyalty. 

To learn how in-depth psychographic segmentation offers 91.1% predictability into your consumers, contact c2b solutions.

Psychographic Segmentation and its Practical Application in Patient Engagement and Behavior Change


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