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When it comes to customer engagement for health care companies, a literacy challenge exists.
According to a new study from UnitedHealthcare, many Americans do not understand basic health insurance concepts that are important to using their health plan benefits. Consider that only 7% of respondents could successfully define all four basic health insurance concepts: Plan premium, deductible, co-insurance, and out-of-pocket maximum. More than 60% of respondents successfully defined plan premium and deductible; however, respondents had a more difficult time defining out-of-pocket maximum (36%) and co-insurance (32%).
Nearly 80% of respondents preferred speaking directly with a customer service representative, with email or online chat the next most popular at 7% each.
When calling a customer service representative, the most important quality is the person’s knowledge (30%), the study shows, followed by how quickly the call was answered (27%), and then feeling the representative had all the necessary information on hand (22%).
UnitedHealthcare’s Consumer Sentiment Survey examined Americans’ attitudes and opinions about four areas of health care: Comparison shopping, wellness programs, health literacy, and customer service.
Here are some of the survey’s key findings:
People prefer other activities to enrolling in a health benefits plan during open enrollment. For example, 25% of respondents said they would rather file their annual income taxes than select a health plan.
More Americans are now comparison shopping for health care. Nearly a third of respondents have used the Internet or mobile apps during the last year to compare the cost of medical services. That is more than double from 14% in 2012 (based on a previous UnitedHealthcare survey).
Most people don’t fully understand what they are buying. Only 7% of respondents could successfully define all four basic health insurance concepts: plan premium, deductible, co-insurance and out-of-pocket maximum.
When it comes to customer service, Americans prefer live support. More than three-quarters (78%) of respondents preferred speaking with a customer service representative, with email or online chat the next most popular options at 7% each.
“This survey underscores why UnitedHealthcare is working to simplify the health care experience for people and help them take full advantage of their health care benefits,” said Rebecca Madsen, UnitedHealthcare’s Chief Consumer Officer.
What’s more, the use of websites and mobile apps to comparison shop for health care is increasing, especially among young people. Nearly half (47%) of respondents between the ages of 18 and 34 said they have used online or mobile resources to comparison shop for health care treatments or services. Among all comparison shoppers, 81% described the process as “very helpful” or “somewhat helpful.”
More than half of respondents (56%) who are employed full time said they would be interested in using a wearable fitness tracker as part of a workplace wellness program. That bodes well, considering that companies nationwide are expected by 2018 to incorporate more than 13 million fitness tracking devices into their wellness programs as a way to help reduce obesity and sedentary time among employees, according to technology consultancy Endeavors Partners.
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