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Friday, September 30, 2011

Simple is not easy

by Torsten Bernewitz

In recent posts I proposed that to embrace the direct-to-consumer marketing model, payers must become excellent on four dimensions: consumer insights, consumer engagement, simplicity/openness and stakeholder alignment.

I discussed consumer insights and consumer engagement in more detail here:

The consumer engagement strategy and tactics will be very different across segments, but two important guiding principles should never be violated. Unfortunately, both may require a significant attitude shift for health insurers, whose culture is strongly imprinted by actuarial and risk management considerations.
  1. Simplify, simplify, then simplify some more. Consumers have been “trained” by other industries to expect a hassle free, easy and fast experience (think Amazon’s one-click shopping). In fact, health insurers may be well advised to study and emulate how successful consumer companies create these customer experiences. Enrollment, renewal and adjudication must become straightforward, fast and user friendly (with a particular focus on friendly) - today they are anything but “one-click”.
  2. Keep everything transparent and easy to understand. Health insurance is complex, but consumers must not get lost in the maze, or they will check out. Helping the consumer navigate the healthcare decisions process, presenting the options in an honest and easy-to-follow way will go a long way in creating trust and building loyalty. The new insurance labels - the mandated standardized plan summaries or “food labels” for health insurance plans - may help, but they are probably just entry stakes to becoming more consumer-focused. Instead of looking at the usefulness of such labels with skepticism, health insurers who are serious about becoming consumer-centric should embrace the concept and push the envelope further. This is not a trivial task, and companies who excel at this can build a real source of differentiation and competitive advantage.
Torsten Bernewitz is a healthcare industry analyst and management consultant.
He is Managing Principal, Healthcare Insurers and Payers at
ZS Associates.

This post is the author’s own and does not necessarily represent ZS Associates’ positions, strategies or opinions.

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