Communicate, educate and promote to members all at once

I'm about to declare something rare--my insurance company did something right.

A few days ago, I received two pamphlets in the mail from my insurance company. My health plan recently shifted from a more traditional product with a $120 per-person deductible, followed by a 10 percent co-insurance to a high-deductible plan that requires my family spend $2,000 before coverage really kicks in.

The pamphlets aimed to explain the changes. They were well presented, well executed and clearly well thought out.

Right away, bright orange and blue colors caught my attention as I pulled the pamphlets out of the envelope. One was called a "user guide" that provided an at-a-glance look at how to use the health plan. The insurer highlighted what information I would need to bring with me for a doctor's visit or to pay for a prescription. It also explained how to submit receipts and detailed information for downloading a free smartphone app associated with my account to monitor claims information.

My favorite part of the pamphlet was its simple breakdown of key insurance terms that often trip up most consumers. It explained out-of-pocket maximums, co-insurance and deductibles and even included two example scenarios showing how much families could pay with the plan.

On the very next page, the pamphlet drove the point home with a "putting it all together" section clearly showing my costs for deductibles, co-insurance and out-of-pocket maximums, and the services that are covered along the way.

The other brochure offered clear ways to reach the insurer's customer service representatives. Inside I found magnets and key tags for easy reference of customer service phone numbers as well as the days and time they're available.

Reading through these pamphlets, I was impressed. My insurer gathered together the most important pieces of information in a clear, easy-to-understand manner. It was effective communication, education and marketing all at once.

It successfully reached out to its consumers, potentially pre-empting widespread confusion that could have arisen with the changes to the plan. It also achieved something rare among insurers--taking industry jargon and clearly explaining it to the public.

If more insurers took the time and investment to create similar information packets, they could save a lot of misunderstandings and mix-ups. Particularly with the influx of consumers who haven't had health insurance before, insurers could do well to immediately present such information to new members when they complete their enrollment.

If they did, maybe more consumers will respond with the same reaction as I had--that they're impressed with the insurer and appreciative for the information received. - Dina (@HealthPayer)

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