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Health Plans' Survival Could Depend on Customer Service

By Gregory A. Freeman  
   October 21, 2016

Insurers are facing more pressure than ever to meet customer demands or lose those customers to competitors.

A recent survey of 2,500 health plan members across the U.S. indicated that health plans must quickly tune their offerings and provide service levels that match or exceed members' expectations, says Ray Desrochers, executive vice president of HealthEdge, which conducted the survey.

Consumers expect organizations in their healthcare ecosystem to more effectively communicate with them and supply information and services in a way that is as convenient as their experience in other industries, Desrochers says.

For example, 88% of survey respondents said their health plan could be doing a better job of communicating their total financial responsibility.

Incentives for healthy behaviors including diet and exercise are popular, with 42% of consumers responding they are "very interested" and an additional 45% stating that they are "somewhat interested" in taking advantage of such inducements.

Despite that high level of interest, 48% of those surveyed reported that their health plan offers none of these benefits, Desrochers says.

Only 12% of individuals stated that their health plan provides discounts on gym memberships, although it's possible respondents did not know they have access to that benefit—another result of poor communication.

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Health plans also are missing the opportunity to allow members suffering from chronic conditions to participate in groups, according to the survey. Only 8% of respondents reported participating in a condition-specific support group or other resource resulting from a referral provided by their health plan.

Gregory A. Freeman is a contributing writer for HealthLeaders.

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