Recently, we posted a blog making a connection between healthcare marketing and billing efficiency. It began, "Imagine a world where where all patients paid their bills on time."
This post could just as easily begin, "Imagine a world where every patient understood their healthcare coverage."
To be honest, even before the Affordable Care Act patients weren't always clear about what their healthcare plans covered or what their billing responsibilities were. The recent shakedown of traditional health insurance paradigms has simply brought that latent confusion to a head.
There's even a word for this problem: health insurance illiteracy.
Educating Patients About Healthcare Coverage Pays Off
We can see relevant examples of health insurance illiteracy by reviewing results from a 2014 Kaiser Family Foundation survey completed by nearly 1300 adults.
Some of their findings include:
- 21% of respondents weren't clear that they have to pay an insurance premium even if they haven't utilized healthcare services.
- 28% couldn't clearly define what an insurance deductible was.
- Only half of the people could calculate their financial responsibility for a week-long hospital stay, factoring in their co-pay and deductible.
- There was widespread confusion about the difference in cost between in-network and out-of-network providers.
This health insurance illiteracy epidemic poses three major problems:
- It prevents patients from accessing free, preventative healthcare appointments because they think they'll have to pay, leading to more expensive healthcare costs down the road.
- Patients over-utilize doctor offices, urgent cares and ERs because they don't realize the out-of-pocket expenses involved.
- Excessive and unpaid healthcare tabs leave everyone dissatisfied—patients and healthcare providers alike.
Healthcare marketing can help on all counts, providing patients with the information they need to make informed decisions about services and treatment and ensuring patients are adequately covered for the services you provide before moving forward. That's a perfect foundation for patient satisfaction and financial success.
Use Healthcare Marketing for "Healthcare Coverage 101" Tutorials
Here are ways you can utilize healthcare marketing to provide the equivalent of "Healthcare Coverage 101 Tutorials."
Direct patients to specific resources
Why re-invent the wheel when you don't have to? Instead, use blogs, social media posts and pamphlets that are designed with insurance-related and well researched SEO phrases to promote helpful insurance guides, such as:
- A Summary of Benefits and Coverage (available in multiple languages) for patients with plans through a health insurance exchange.
- A Glossary of Healthcare Terms.
- Videos that can benefit visual or less-literate learners. Text can be overwhelming, especially when you consider that 50% of Americans read at lower than an 8th-grade reading level. Check out YouToons and then consider making your own explainer video to post on the web.
Market to your internal care providers
There's a reason why patients can't understand "doctor speak"; they're not doctors and they're not working in the healthcare arena day-in and day-out. Communicate with doctors, nurses, N.A's and pharmacists about the importance of helping patients understand. For example, explain the difference between generic vs. name brand meds (refer them to GoodRX for comparison), remind them to visit insurance portals for instant access to network providers, etc.
Utilize healthcare coordinators and market them
Healthcare coordinators can be so helpful in walking patients through the ins-and-outs of their coverage as well as billing and payment plan information. We guarantee that well-promoted patient coordinators will be worth their weight in gold in terms of patient satisfaction, improved bill pay, and a more informed patient population.
These ideas are only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to all the ways you can use healthcare marketing to educate patients about healthcare coverage. It's a win-win for all.