Millennials Throw Shade, Offer Savage Tips for Health Plans

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Throwing shade = not good. Savage = good. While millennials may use language that goes right over most of our older heads, what we learned from a panel of 20-somethings discussing health insurance last month at the Health Care Consumer Engagement Congress in Boston was simple: They want fast, clear, and human interactions that are up-to-date with today’s technology.

We also learned that millennials understand (and are afraid of) high health care costs – but often can’t find the answers or support they need to understand their insurance plans. One panelist stated the fear of costs very clearly: “We joke, but it’s not really a joke, that if one of us gets hurt to call an Uber, not an ambulance, because it’s too expensive.” In fact, he went so far as to say, he wants a bracelet that says if he drops to call Uber, not an ambulance.

How can you better reach your millennial health plan members and deliver the information and experience they need to make smart health care choices? Here are a few top takeaways from our panel of millennials aged 22-32 to help you reach your younger audiences:

It has to be human
Millennials are connected to their smart phones 24/7, but when it comes to interacting with their health plan, the panelists want more than just website or email channels – they want human interactions.

“There needs to be a level of support to get the information I need when I need it. What we want from our health plan is concierge-like service. Not waiting on hold for 30 minutes or having to look through 14 pages on a bad website to answer a question about coverage,” said one panelist.

Millennials want and need key information to be delivered quickly through higher touch services, meaning customer service agents becoming more like concierge services that answer phones quickly, are informed about the member, and can deliver relevant information seamlessly.

You’re being compared to other industries, so pay attention to them!

Millennials are major consumers across industries and since they are digital-first, they expect the best when it comes to digital products and services. Our panelists felt that health insurance was behind other industries in terms of customer experience and satisfaction. Who did they cite as possible examples to follow?

  • American Express was praised for its excellent mobile app and customer service.
  • One panelist felt that even though Comcast has its flaws, the ability to communicate through multiple channels and specifically the ability to request a call-back at your convenience, was appreciated.

It boils down to offering more options that cater to younger audiences: “Let us pay through Venmo. Maybe look into a Slack channel to let us communicate with you. Show that you are trying to keep with technology.”

There’s still time to create loyal members

Most of the millennial panelists said they don’t pay much attention to their health or health insurance, because they don’t have to yet. They don’t have children and are perfectly healthy. Some rarely visit the doctor and simply select the cheapest plan through their employer with little research into coverage.

One panelist noted that because health insurance is so tied to the Human Resource Department, they feel disconnected from it. There is an opportunity to create better relationships with members through employer-sponsored plans. The panelist went on to say, “a lot of the challenges revolve around humanizing the actual brand and the actual health insurance components, but also creating some sort of on-boarding and connection with your actual customers.” Rather than have HR discuss health plan options once a year, create a human experience by keeping communication channels open and holding regular on-boarding and information sessions about health plan options.

Other panelists mentioned that they are also open to more interactions with their health plan including wellness programs. One panelist suggested, that plans “offer Class Pass as a wellness incentive to show that you relate to us…” and even suggested that discounts to healthy meal services like Blue Apron be offered to help millennials eat healthier and gain valuable cooking skills. Personalized notifications about suggested appointments or procedures, and educational information about their health were also mentioned, in fact, one panelist stated that “I’d be fine with my insurance reminding me I might need an appointment or giving me personalized recommendations. Yes, it’s creepy but it’s the norm today.”

Here are a few other ways we heard you can become more engaged with your members:

  • Clear language. It was clear that millennials “want health plans to speak our language. Not gibberish.”
  • Give a variety of communication options. Text, chat, mobile apps, phone, email, website, and social media all have a role to play.
  • Create quick and easy cheat sheets: “For us as millennials, I think we want to see a cheat sheet for health insurance plans. To see what’s covered and what’s not.”
  • More connected customer service: branding customer service agents as advisors to give answers needed is one suggestion from the millennial panel.
  • Speed up. In no uncertain terms, the millennials demanded that health plans need to be a lot quicker.

Wait, there’s more! We made an infographic:

How Health Plans Can Market to Millennials