Online tools for health care are vital in this age of technology as they lessen the administrative burden of demystifying health insurance to consumers. According to Alegeus, a company offering health care management tools, 69 percent of respondents claimed that understanding health care terminology is a major decision-making barrier.
This boils down to the fact that easily digestible health care information is in demand from customers across all age groups, genders and economic status. There are three factors that play a part in contributing towards demystifying health insurance — online tools, electronic enrollment and customer service.
A Mercer survey found that 77 percent of American employers offer access to a cost transparency tool, usually from health care providers.
Providing appropriate tools and resources will empower consumers to use decision-making skills and manage their own expenses, as they can easily search the cost of medical services and laboratory tests conducted at various medical centers. Such tools are highly essential for consumers on high-deductible health plans as they have to resort to paying more out-of-pocket expenses for medical services as the cost of health care increases.
Employers should bear in mind that tools aren’t generic but feature estimated costs based on the details of the company’s health plan. This will greatly benefit consumers in a way that enables them to plan their expenses in advance.
Electronic enrollment is a sure-fire way to reduce errors and administrative time required by health insurers and employers to explain benefit options. Employees can gain easy access to essential information online about co-payments and deductibles, provider networks, locations, hospital affiliations and physicians’ expertise.
Undeniably, enrolling electronically not only improves communication between employers and health plan insurers but also between health insurers and employees.
Citing a report from the Cicero Group, Healthcare Informatics explained that 49 percent of consumers cited that better communication is a motivating factor for them to use online tools.
Since consumers value human interaction compared to all other forms of support, good customer service is vital. Customers who know that they can rely on customer service by health care experts to help them navigate their health plan website and use online tools stand a better chance at utilizing them and maximizing health benefits.
At the end of the spectrum, bear in mind that as consumers build confidence in using online tools for health care, their reliance in customer support declines and their preference for digital tools and self-service options increases. At this point, determine if the current tools employees use are good enough. Prior to conducting your next online survey or a group session, consider the following factors to help you design your questions:
- Accuracy of information;
- Level of difficulty in navigating tools;
- Level of understanding of online information; and
- Degree of relevance to current needs.
The information gained from the survey provides insight into what works for your employees. You can then give feedback to your insurer and communicate possible ways to improve the way available online tools are presented for better consumer experience.
With the availability of online health care tools, employees have greater flexibility in selecting and managing their health benefits, hence empowering them to make their own decisions. In turn, you and your human resource staff reap the rewards of increased efficiencies and reduced cost.
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