No one knows better than brokers how much information health insurance customers need to decide which plan to purchase – or whether or not to purchase one at all.
During the first Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) individual coverage open enrollment period, consumers were wary of the rocky rollout and website glitches — but what really deterred folks was the perceived cost of the “qualified health plan” (QHP) coverage.
Consider these two facts:
- More than 17 million uninsured Americans qualified for tax credits in 2014, but, according to government data, only 21 percent of them enrolled in a plan by March 2014.
- According to a 2014 McKinsey survey, 80 percent of the people who didn’t enroll cited affordability as the reason. However, 66 percent of those consumers were not aware of their subsidy options.
Premiums were cheaper than originally estimated. Tax credits helped many consumers reduce the monthly cost even more. But consumers still think health insurance is too expensive because they don’t know financial help is available.
What can brokers do to educate consumers about their financial options and get them to sign onto the dotted line? Showcase affordability — and make it simple. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has reported that only 12 percent of adults have a high level of health literacy.
Here are some other ways to improve the health insurance shopping experience:
- Let consumers browse their options quickly. Don’t require consumers to read unnecessary information before they see basic information about basic plans.
- Calculate the bottom line. Don’t expect shoppers do the math; do the math for them.
- List the right program. Medicaid expansion has been a big benefit for millions of consumers, and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) also helps many. Telling eligible consumers about these programs positions you as a trusted source of information, even when those programs don’t offer direct compensation to brokers.
For brokers, the best way to achieve these goals is to work with health insurance companies that offer the tools needed to improve the consumer shopping experience.
Sallie Poblete is the chief executive officer of Wellthie.