As Open Enrollment Has Kicked Off, VisibleThread Report Shows Health Insurers Need to Communicate Better with Seniors

As Open Enrollment for 2020 healthcare coverage kicks off, nearly 15 percent of seniors in the U.S. are eligible to take advantage of this government program. Yet, a report from VisibleThread reveals that health insurers are doing a poor job communicating with this audience. The result is a loss of trust in the industry. And, an increase in operational costs for the insurer.

VisibleThread evaluated Medicare documents from 30 of the top health insurers.

Their findings show that the reading level required to understand these communications is outside of the recommended level for senior citizens.

Specifically, 86.6 percent of seniors could not readily understand the messaging.

Trust is necessary for business

The Mintel North America Consumer Trends 2018 found that trust dictates where and how consumers spend. Health insurers who communicate clearly create a higher level of trust.

“The results of our report were troubling for both consumers and health insurers. Consumers may not fully understand what is and isn’t covered. Think about pre-existing conditions. Likewise, insurers are putting themselves at risk of not following the government’s legally required plain language standards. When subject matter experts who are not trained writers compose materials, insurers have inadvertently lost sight of what their customers need,” said Fergal McGovern, CEO, Visible Thread.

Clarity results in cost-savings

Clear communications reassure members about their coverage and build trust. They also represent cost-savings for insurers. This is evident in a reduction operational costs such as call center expenditure.

“When consumers need to spend less time on the phone with insurers’ customer service centers, experience improves and costs for the business drops,” he added. “Open enrollment presents an excellent opportunity for health insurers to assess and improve their written communications with members. Clarity helps insurers reduce overhead costs associated with excessive call center volumes.”

Additional Findings

The VisibleThread report also found that:

  • 56.6 percent of insurance companies communicate in an academic tone
  • Two thirds of insurers produce content more difficult to read than Moby Dick
  • Long sentences are twice the recommended level
  • Only six out of the 30 insurers have an acceptable complex word density

Insurers who ranked low were:

  • Manhattan Life
  • American National Insurance
  • Fidelis Care

Insurers who scored high were:

  • Amerigroup
  • Kaiser Permanente
  • AARP

For a copy of the full report, including methodology, click here.

ABOUT: VisibleThread helps organizations make their words matter. Our solutions help professionals, across all business functions, write more clearly and consistently. Our dashboards measure the tone and consistency of communications, across all teams, using objective metrics.