In a recent article for The Washington Post, reporter Jason Milliman asks: “Can technology pick the perfect health plan for you?” At Array Health, we believe the answer is a resounding “YES.” As consumers assume greater control over their healthcare dollars, decision support technology has become an imperative. With more choice comes more responsibility, making it crucial for insurers to provide consumers with the tools they need to pick wisely – and have confidence in their decisions in the long run.
Milliman states, “As much as any Web site claims to be an Amazon or a Kayak for health insurance, shopping for health insurance is still pretty difficult.” We agree shopping for health insurance isn’t as easy as picking a pair of shoes on Zappos. The stakes are high. If you pick the wrong shoes, you can send them back with free shipping and the worst-case scenario is a mere annoyance. But if you pick the wrong health plan, there are financial and health ramifications that affect not only you, but potentially your family members, as well. Complicating matters, most consumers don’t fully understand what they are buying when enrolling in a health plan. Consumers aren’t as familiar with industry terminology, and they often don’t truly understand the benefits their health insurer provides.
In order to address the unique needs of healthcare consumers, successful decision support tools must incorporate multiple areas of expertise: psychology of consumer decision-making, current best practices for e-commerce shopping and subtle ways of educating consumers about health insurance to increase their overall comprehension. It’s easier said than done. Successful private exchanges help consumers value their purchasing decisions, and they do so by helping consumers feel in control of the process with decision support technology, offering an appropriate number of options, clearly communicating the value of the plan options and using language and terminology that are easily understood.
For more information on the role decision support plays in building a successful private exchange, check out our recent white paper “Designing a Retail Shopping Experience for Health Insurance: How to Help Consumers Understand and Value Their Insurance Choices.”