Horses and Zebras

Truth and Tactics for Health Marketers

Lost Trust and Found Opportunity

Lost Trust and Found Opportunity

In our previous blog post, we explored a pervasive issue associated with health insurers:  dissatisfaction on the part of members. This issue not only impacts how consumers perceive your organization and plans, but also to how they build trust in and, ultimately, loyalty to your brand.

When you stop to think about it, the central function of what health plans do—managing access to care to ensure it is appropriate from both a cost and an outcome standpoint—is actually a threat to brand health that must be carefully addressed.

In this post, we’re going to explore some specific attributes and behaviors that can help establish trust and build loyalty. We will also explore which types of insurance companies have more credibility when it comes to fostering these behaviors.

In our two 2020 national surveys*, we explored a range of qualities that could either build or diminish trust and satisfaction in insurance companies. Our studies looked at these qualities in the context of which insurer types could most credibly claim them. We specifically included geographic scale, for-profit status, and whether being a provider-sponsored plan had an impact on either perception or credibility.

  • National insurers are expected to be the most cost efficient, have a wider selection of providers, and more generous benefits. These expectations correspond to important functional decision factors in insurer selection.
  • Local/statewide plans and not-for-profit plans were far more credible in claiming key trust-building qualities.

  • Size and “business motive” drives believability for these attributes, with local/statewide and not-for-profit plans enjoying a substantial advantage in credibility.

When it comes to credibility, it’s evident that locally rooted, not-for-profit, provider-sponsored health plans have a sizable edge on trust-related attributes. But some vulnerabilities did come to light. Local scale and provider sponsorship raised questions of panel size and provider choice.

Overall, insurer size, profit status and provider sponsorship significantly influence credibility in claiming key trust-related attributes. For those smaller, not-for-profit, provider-sponsored health insurers looking to take market share form larger health insurance companies, the pervasive issue of trust provides fertile ground for brand messaging.

The next blog in this series will explore whether these trust and service attributes are simple “nice to haves” or absolute “must haves.”

*BVK Health Plan Surveys, 2020

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