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Health plans not meeting Medicare beneficiaries' communication preferences, survey shows

There is still a demand for voice and regular mail as communication methods, but that demand is shrinking.

Jeff Lagasse, Associate Editor

WHAT HAPPENED

Health plans may not be meeting Medicare beneficiaries' communication preferences, according to a HealthMine survey of 781 Medicare Advantage or Supplemental members.

WHY IT MATTERS

The results show that 47 percent of all respondents prefer digital communication with their plan, compared to the 34 percent who actually receive communication digitally. The survey also reveals a higher preference for digital communication by younger beneficiaries.

Of those 65-70 years old, just 38 percent said they receive digital communication from their plan, while 50 percent prefer it. 

Of those 71-75 years old, 34 percent said they receive digital communication from their plan, compared to 47 percent who prefer it; and among the 76-plus crowd, 30 percent responded they receive digital communication from their plan, with 43 percent preferring it.

The results don't negate that there is still a demand for voice and regular mail as communication methods, but that demand is shrinking. Only 18 percent of all respondents prefer to receive communication via regular mail, yet 24 percent do. Forty-two percent said they receive health plan communication via phone, versus 35 percent who say that phone is their preferred method of communication.

THE TREND

Respondents were asked what their plan communicates with them about most. The top answers by almost half the respondents were that they received communication about "health screenings" and "actions on how to improve health."

But even though 83 percent of consumers use digital health tools, only 22 percent said their health plan makes any use of digital communication to help them improve their health, according to a Healthmine survey from last year that shows similar results to findings this year. 

Seventy-three percent of respondents in the 2017 survey said their health plan doesn't seem to understand their health well, and 60 percent called for more communication from their health plan on something besides bills. 

ON THE RECORD

"With more than 10,000 individuals aging into Medicare daily, the growth trend for digital communication is here to stay," said Bryce Williams, president and CEO of HealthMine. "Our survey shows that plans are not quite keeping pace with the digital demand. It is clearly important that Medicare Advantage plans meet beneficiaries on their terms and cater to preferences."

Twitter: @JELagasse
Email the writer: jeff.lagasse@himssmedia.com

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