3 strategies to retain existing members

New customer acquisition costs more than retaining existing customers, so building loyalty among members is crucial to fiscal health. Here are three steps health insurers can take to build a strong relationship with existing enrollees, culled from a variety of sources.

1. Encourage wellness

Insurers should take a page from credit card companies, which motivate cardholders to develop usage behaviors that benefit both the cardholders and the card companies, Business2Community reported.

To foster wellness behavior change among members, health insurers should promote primary care visits for checkups and preventative care services via reminder mailings, helping members make appointments and even offering transportation to appointments, B2C noted.

Wellness programs are among four major trends affecting health insurers this year. Keeping up with the trend will require insurers to tailor wellness programs, their awards and incentives to each company's culture, as FierceHealthPayer previously reported.

2. Promote a variety of payment methods

The U.S. Department of Health & Human Services requires insurers accept prepaid debit cards, cashier's checks, money orders, paper checks and bank-account transfers as payments for plans sold on the exchanges. And they should urge members to use whatever payment method makes it easier for members to pay their monthly premiums, and subsequently avoid uninterrupted coverage, according to B2C.

Although insurers don't have to accept automatic monthly payments from either credit or debit cards, encouraging members to arrange auto bill pay could mitigate billing problems that have been plaguing insurers of late.

Recognizing claims payment is one of the highest volume transactions people perform, UnitedHealth allows its policyholders to pay their bills online to improve the payment experience.

"We have radically simplified that process for consumers, made it easier for them to understand, given them a tool to manage their claims and out-of-pocket costs, and then allowed them to finish the job by paying a bill with a few clicks," Victoria "Tory" Bogatyrenko (pictured right), UnitedHealth's vice president of product development and innovation, told FierceHealthPayer in a recent interview.

3. Offer pharmacy benefits

Insurers can attract and retain members by including prescription benefits in their exchange plan offerings, according to the American Journal of Managed Care. That's because more than half of Americans take at least one prescription a year and prescriptions account more than 10 percent of medical spending. However, the increased opportunity to leverage pharmacy benefits could disrupt the relationship between employers and pharmacy benefit managers, like Express Scripts and Walgreen, the article noted.

For more:
- here's the B2C article
- read the AJMC article