Combatting Price with Customer-Friendly Communications

The new healthcare landscape, set forth by the Affordable Care Act and creation of the Marketplace Exchange, has brought new customers with unique purchase drivers and high digital expectations to the market.

In taking a look at the demographics of these new individual health coverage policyholders, most of them are prone to higher digital expectations because they are younger. Approximately 26% (2.25 million) of those currently enrolled in the marketplace are ages 18 to 34 and 35% are younger than 351.  Also important to consider, is that they require financial assistance, with 89% of active 2016 renenrollees selecting plans with financial assistance and 84% of total Marketplace selections consisting of plans that offer financial assistance1. What does this mean? Consumers are extremely price sensitive and are willing to switch from insurer to insurer each year in order to obtain lower costs. Evidence of this? Nearly 2.2 million people, 60% of the 3.6 million active reenrollees, switched plans between the 2015 and 2016 coverage years1.

For small to mid-sized plans, the most effective defense insurers have against this price-focused mindset is a differentiating customer experience that establishes member loyalty.

With outbound communications often the only interaction many customers have with their insurance, and at little frequency, every communication becomes a critical moment of truth, thus, communications must be the cornerstone of any insurer’s customer experience strategy if it is to effectively combat Marketplace price competition.

Crafting an effective customer experience strategy begins by looking at all outbound communications and identifying ways in which they can be made more convenient, engaging and understandable to the recipient.

Customers expect fast and convenient delivery, understandable language and access via their channel of choice, but when we look at an item like the EOB, we realize how poorly these expectations are being met. The item is slow to get to beneficiaries and is typically a posting of a PDF that isn’t optimized for mobile device viewing in any way. The text is static and jargon filled, and the customer is unable to click on anything or interact with the document to seek comprehension assistance. The EOB references Diagnoses Codes, but then tells you to locate your provider claim to find the codes or call your insurer to request, rather than directly delivering to you within the statement.

Designing a winning customer experience means looking at ways to leverage the interactivity tools that the Web and PDF programming permit in order to transform these static documents of jargon into engaging experiences that walk customers through the elements and explain what they need to understand.

By morphing into your customers’ trusted healthcare complexity navigator via communications optimized for ease of understanding, you can create a defining customer experiences that triumphs price.


  1. “Health Insurance Marketplaces 2016 Open Enrollment Period: January Enrollment Report.” ASPE Issue Brief (2016): 1-24: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

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