One of the key trends we’ve seen since the implementation of the Affordable Care Act has been the commodification of health insurance. Previously, when a majority of individuals enrolled in insurance through their employer, insurers didn’t have to worry as much about year over year turnover. Member portals were developed with the specific task of servicing members, and a primary goal of decreasing member support dollars. Conversely, retail portals concentrated on new members and those shopping for an insurance plan.
Now that members can easily change their insurer annually during open enrollment (not to mention the absence of marketing on state and federal exchanges), member portals are more important than ever in creating brand loyalty amongst existing members. This means integrating some features and functionality from the retail portal into the member portal. Too many insurance companies make their members go through a generic new consumer experience to update their plans, rather than an experience customized for a valued member.
So how can you tie your retention efforts into your member portal? One way is to focus on ways to make life easier for your current members. Renewal time can be stressful, even if a member is planning on staying with their existing plan—they may not know what they need to do in order to keep the benefits they know and like. Below are a few examples of how a robust, customer-centric member portal can make things easier, build loyalty, and lead to better retention.
My plan is being retired, what now?
Many grandfathered and transitional plans will be retired over the next several years. Your member portal can be used to communicate upcoming changes, and guide users to the appropriate course of action. For example, if a member’s plan is being phased out, preemptively offer them a similar new plan (and maybe some options for comparison) and make it simple for them to enroll.
Why do I have to enter my credit card again?
Often, because the public and member areas of the website are separate, members have to reenter a significant amount of personal information that the insurer already knows. While companies have gotten better about pre-filling applicant information, some areas are still lacking, such as payment information. Consider pulling existing payment methods into the shopping process. By integrating the renewal process into the member portal, you can minimize the effort required to stay with you as an insurer.
What about the baby?
As your members’ life status changes, different plan benefits can take on increasing importance. Take advantage of the renewal period to emphasize those benefits. For a member who recently added a child to their policy, make sure to highlight child wellness benefits available through their plan. Again, combine this information with a seamless process that makes it easy for them to renew their plan.
While the situations above exemplify some of the disconnect between the member and retail channel, they also highlight real world issues that insurers should be addressing. It’s time for forward-thinking insurers to create a member ecosystem that captures the full customer lifecycle – where a member doesn’t just come to check on the status of a claim or pay their bill, but also to review their renewal options and choose to remain a member.