Health Plan Illiteracy, or how not to benefit from the Benefit
Health plan illiteracy is alive and well, according to J.D. Power and Associates. The consumer market research firm’s 2008 National Health Insurance Plan Study finds that 1 in two plan members don’t understand their plan.
In this second year of the survey, J.D. Power notes that, as consumers understand the benefits of their Benefit, their satisfaction with the plan increases. Thus, there is a virtuous cycle that happens between a plan and an enrollee when communication is clear and understood.
J.D. Power looked at member satisfaction in 107 health plans throughout the U.S. in terms of 7 key metrics: coverage and benefits; choice of doctors, hospitals and pharmacies; information and communication; approval processes; claims processing; insurance statements; and customer service.
The survey was conducted in November and December 2007.
Last year, Abt Associates found that most insured workers don’t understand simple health plan language. I abstracted some of Abt’s findings in this chart that I use in many of my presentations. Health plan illiteracy goes beyond general health illiteracy — this is people blessed with benefits who don’t ‘get’ them.
Health Populi’s Hot Points: Having access to a health plan at the workplace is a Major Blessing these days. It is also an eroding benefit, as we learned earlier this week from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation‘s paper, Squeezed: How Costs for Insuring Families are Outpacing Income. It’s all about customer engagement. For employers to get their fully bang-for-health-buck, they need to pressure plans to adopt the consumer goods marketing hat and take a page out of the books of beloved brands and market segmentation gurus.
Not only would plans bolster their consumer satisfaction ratings — they could become beloved consumer brands in health care and build more trusted relationships in their communities. This could, ultimately, improve healthy communities…at least among the insured citizens.