Consumers confused by health insurance

December 15, 2010

The need for better communication is apparently fueled by consumer uncertainty about federal healthcare reform. According to the survey, 44% say they are not sure how their health plan is impacted.

According to a national survey by Xerox Corp., consumers are confused about their health options.

Kelton Research conducted the survey of more than 1,000 insured Americans, ages 18 and over, on behalf of Xerox Corp. The survey had a margin of error plus or minus of 3.1 percentage points. According to the survey:

  • 55% think their insurance provider should make benefits information easier to understand

  • 36% would like the communications personalized from their insurance provider

  • 51% believe their employer should make options easier to understand

  • 32% want personalized communications from their employer

  • 14% of those polled feel the communications they receive from their insurance provider is easy to understand

The need for better communication is apparently fueled by consumer uncertainty about federal healthcare reform. According to the survey, 44% say they are not sure how their health plan is impacted.

“Unfortunately, a lot of insurers consider their communications to their membership to be an obligation,” says Paul Lundy, vice president of healthcare for Communications and Marketing Services at Xerox Corp. “I think they need to spin that around and view it as an opportunity. Because it's viewed as obligation, it’s often written from the perspective of the insurer with legalese, rather than from the perspective of a viewer who's going to act upon it.”

Lundy says insurers need to set a goal for each communicated piece, not just focus on making it look colorful or producing it at low cost. He says the payoff comes in the form of better customer service and reduced call volumes.

“We all interpret information differently,” he says. “When we look at redesigning a document, we try to understand the goals and use behavioral science to meet the goals. We want to make communications multi-dimensional to give it a flavor that it's speaking to you one way and visually representing information to you in another way. “

In addition to providing multiple ways for customers to absorb the information, Lundy says personalization should also be multi-dimensional.

“It’s not just putting a name and location on top of a letter, it’s also discovering how viewers want to be communicated to,” he says. “Would they prefer e-mail, SMS, Web etc.? It’s all about interacting in the way members want to be communicated with so they can best digest the information.”