Posted on January 27, 2015
The Affordable Care Act (ACA) has opened the floodgates to changes in the insurance industry. You already know about the Health Insurance Marketplace and other insurance exchanges. But have you heard about fast-growing startups like Zenefits?
Long story short, companies like Zenefits are tapping into the post-ACA insurance market. They're giving small to mid-size businesses and their employees new options to buy insurance online. No news there - but …
Now that consumers can easily compare coverage and costs, many are choosing plans with higher deductibles and out-of-pocket expenses. That means "value" is a hot button. But you know as well as I do that "apples to apples" comparisons rarely exist in the complex world of specialty services and surgeries.
Changes in the insurance industry also pose another challenge for hospitals. Many newly insured will have limited knowledge about their coverage or how the healthcare system works.
So what's a CAH to do? Change the way you communicate.
- As more and more consumers begin to shop for "value," it's critical to provide them with information about quality of care as well as price.
- Different patients need different types of pricing information based on their insurance coverage. For example, consumers with covered hospital services may be concerned about out-of-pocket expenses and may want to compare your hospital with another. Make it easy for them to get the information they need. If you don't, they'll simply move on to the next choice.
- Consider creating videos to address frequently asked questions that consumers and patients can view from home or even on a tablet in your waiting room. You may have featured physicians in previous videos. This time, focus on FAQs that are answered by your billing expert and front-office staff on a daily basis. For example, feature a brief tutorial on basic insurance terminology.
- Partner for prevention. You may already attend local health fairs to talk about nutrition or to give free blood pressure screenings. Consider inviting professionals from different health plans to join you and answer questions. Another option is to bring health plan representatives to your hospital for Q&A sessions.
- Take another look at how you're advertising. As more patients gain coverage, hospitals can benefit from advertising to the newly insured with targeted messages.