For Consumers, Cost is King
Health plans have gone far astray from actual consumer concerns, he says. As premiums and deductibles continue rising, American consumers are less interested in esoteric feel-good marketing campaigns from insurers, Jacobs says. Instead, they're interested in cold, hard cash.
RefillWise, for instance, has seen success with a loyalty card program that includes $5 cash back on the first prescription and again after each 10th prescription. Jacobs also cites the price lookup tool offered by a competitor, GoodRx, that he says responds directly to consumer concerns.
"Payers are just now following suit with a lot of me-too products where they are launching price lookups of their own, and it's a lot easier for them than for a company like ours. We have to find everyone's prices and they're just providing their own prices," Jacobs says.
"It would be as if Taco Bell had a lot of trouble telling customers what a taco costs, yet we have health plans struggling to make these things transparent because either it's not in their nature, or they have some benefit from not doing that."
Nevertheless, Jacobs expects more transparency from health plans in the future simply because consumers are embracing what little exists today and will expect more.
"I think if the insurers realize they can't pivot because they're just too big to make that change, they may begin acquiring the companies that do offer that kind of transparency to consumers so they can use them to change from within," Jacobs says. "Or they'll just squash them and eliminate the competition."
For more on healthcare policy, payments, and politics, attend the HealthLeaders Media webcast, How the 2016 Election Will Affect the Future Landscape of Healthcare Payment and Policy, on October 25 from 1PM to 2PM ET.
Gregory A. Freeman is a contributing writer for HealthLeaders.