Can Health Consumers Vote With Their Feet?

If you can’t satisfy multiple buyers, does the company buying health insurance matter more than the consumers?  It’s a difficult question.  The employer cares about the average employee being happy with the health benefits.  You can’t design it for everyone.  And, since we can only switch insurance on annual enrollment (or other life events such as marriage), you [the consumer] can’t do much immediately.

feet  Over time, consumers can vote with their feet especially at companies where multiple insurance offerings exist.  This takes away some consumer power since you can’t storm out saying that this horrible customer service means that I am going to stop using you.

Does this affect service attitudes?  I certainly think so.  I saw it on TV several weeks ago in a sitcom, but I believe it is prevalent.  In that case, the CSR (customer service representative) basically told the person challenging the claim to terminate their coverage if they don’t like it.

call center  Since the consumer is often not the buyer or influencer of the corporate decision, this is an unfortunate reality.  Maybe we need another “life event” to be poor customer service.  When this happens you can change carriers.

Of course, the company arguement would be that this complicates underwriting and raises costs, but why not simply tie customer satisfaction to their pay.  The only way consumerism really works is where the consumer has the ability to walk away.

Interestingly, for one of our biggest customers at a past employer, we got paid cost with a bonus payment that was tied to patient satisfaction.  It was risky, but it put the right pressure on to make sure the patients were satisfied.

One Response to “Can Health Consumers Vote With Their Feet?”

  1. Let’s all have a drink and after several years of poor customer service we will probably end in an alcohol rehab telling health insurance jokes.

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