Tips & Tricks: Five Ways to Create Savvier Health Care Consumers

By: Jill Dornan, Product Marketing

Most people only book a hotel after hunting for the best rate online. But, how many people look for the best price for an X-ray, or even know where to go to find that information? Researching health care costs can save people hundreds of dollars per year. Health plans have a huge opportunity to help their members become smarter health care consumers—and save money for everyone in the process.

According to The American Journal of Managed Care, health plans offering cost estimation tools are saving money with increased use of lower-cost and in-network providers. Most plans are already providing cost transparency tools, but there’s a catch. Only about 30% of members use them. Why? Lack of awareness.

Even if you are seeing solid adoption of your portal, you can drive more savings by further improving awareness for cost estimation tools. Here are five actionable ways to help boost adoption to help save money and increase member satisfaction.

#1: Highlight Resources in Your Member Portal
Take a close look at how your members access the cost tools today. Are they hidden behind the ‘find a doc’ link on your portal? Your members may already have a primary care provider and may not realize there is more information available behind that door. Consider renaming your tools to something more descriptive, such as ‘Find Care and Costs’. Even call out this valuable resource with a promotional ad or a modal so members are notified right when they log in to start saving money on health care.

#2: Promote Cost-Savings Tools Regularly
Ciscero Research recently found that plan members may just not hear about your resources enough. Their research shows many employers and health plans only communicate once each year about their cost transparency tools. While members may see an initial promotion, they aren’t likely to remember it by the time they need to find care. Increase the frequency of your communication to at least monthly, this will not only help boost adoption of cost tools, but drive a nearly a 30% increase in overall member satisfaction, according to research.

#3: Educate Your Members on the Value
Knowing that a cost-savings tool is available is good, but knowing how to get the most value from it is much better. Encourage your members to shop around for care with specific, relatable examples for shoppable care, such as non-emergency surgery or a screening. Show them costs for a wide variety of services, but especially standard events that vary greatly in cost like imaging.

Consider running a campaign to share stories about how other members have saved money on different services. Personalizing examples with members stories can be impactful and adds greater psychological incentive to take action. People may need to be reached with different channels, so you may consider using print, email, ad and in-portal communications together to engage members and reinforce your message.

#4: Give Your Members an Extra Nudge
Sometimes people need a little incentive to find savings opportunities. Your organization may already have a wellness rewards program. Have you tried rewarding your members who choose quality, cost-saving providers? Research firm M Health found that financial incentives can influence people’s decisions on health care—and lower health care costs in the process. About 80% of people would choose a selected lab or imaging center for a cash-based incentive as low as $25. Rewarding smart, cost-saving health care choices motivate members to try new, quality service providers that help save you money, while ultimately creating smarter consumers of health care.

#5: Finally, Make it Personal
People want information about saving money, but they also need to trust it. Make sure you’re delivering the most impactful cost-savings information—not averages that are likely to vary from a member’s actual out-of-pocket costs. Make sure your cost tools take a member’s specific plan and deductible status into account. The more relevant the information, the more we’re likely to trust it.

These are just a few ways you can help your members be better health care consumers. If you’d like to how your organization can improve your cost tool effectiveness and incent your members to find high-quality, lower-cost providers, our experts can help.

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