The Truven Health Blog

The latest healthcare topics from a trusted, proven, and unbiased source.


Helping the Uninsured Navigate the Complexities of the Healthcare Marketplace

By Truven Staff
Matt Collins imageIn the article titled “Obama: Healthcare as easy as online shopping” from the Los Angeles Times, the idea of a experience is touted as the way that the new healthcare marketplace is going to work for the millions of Americans who will seek health insurance in the next several months. There is a key element of personalization missing from this concept of point, click, and shop experience that the White House is promising. They are stating that an uninsured person will now have the ability to compare plans and determine which plans will “work for your family.”  I believe only half of this to be true. The fact is that users of the marketplace will indeed be able to view premiums and plan designs of the available plans. However, will this really mean anything to a person that has possibly never had health insurance?

The key component that is missing is a personalized experience to help the user understand what his or her out-of-pocket expenses might be. Health insurers have been showing individual shoppers monthly premiums for comparison purposes for years, so, this is really nothing new. What would be new and progressive is if these sites also helped the user understand what the total, annual out-of-pocket expenses (in addition to the premium) could be. By answering a few simple questions about chronic conditions, planned procedures and overall planned healthcare use, a user could be given a rough estimate of total out-of-pocket expenses. This could show the differences between a traditional PPO plan and a high-deductible plan. Without this shopping experience, the vast majority of these healthcare neophytes will elect to choose the plan with the smallest premium. This could cause financial woes once the medical bills start arriving.

In addition to the missing element of personalization, the marketplace is having a tough time handling the volume. The government was expecting a trickle into the marketplaces during the six month enrollment period. After visiting the evening of October 1 and the morning of October 2, I was greeted with the following message:

“We have a lot of visitors on the site right now. Please stay on this page. We’re working to make this experience better, and we don’t want you to lose your place in line. We’ll send you to the login page as soon as we can. Thanks for your patience!”

Based on my experience it appears they weren’t ready for the volume they are receiving. It should be an interesting next six months to say the least…

Matt Collins
Director of Product Managemen

Health Plans: Take Consumer Engagement Into Account When Planning For Insurance Exchanges

By Truven Staff
Anita Nair-Hartman imageAdditional funding from HHS will support states continuing their efforts to build out their insurance exchange infrastructure.  For health plans, state- and federal-sponsored insurance exchanges represent a strong opportunity to attract and acquire new members. 

As a health plan, you carefully evaluate your public and private insurance exchange strategies relative to market opportunity, mandated coverage and plan design provisions, profitability, and other factors. But how much time do you devote to the user experience? Consumer user experience will play a large role in member retention over the next year. 

Currently, much focus in the market is on member attraction and growth relative to products, plan design, branding, and marketing. But it’s equally important to ensure that once you get a consumer via an exchange channel relationship, your health plan is well positioned to gain their loyalty and retain them. As you create your strategies, be sure to include consumer engagement. This process should start with the health plan selection process on the exchange.  You should choose to participate in public or private exchanges that offer a robust plan selection tool – one that’s user friendly and provides enough information to the consumer to clearly differentiate your products and brands.

Additionally, once you’ve acquired new members, it’s very important to offer them robust tools and services to better understand and manage their health.  Ensuring that your exchange strategy not only attracts members — but also retains them — will go a long way toward supporting your overall strategy.

Anita Nair-Hartman
Vice President Market Planning and Strategy