Health Insurance: How do you feel about yours?

According to a newsletter aimed at the insurance industry, 70% of comments made about health insurers on social media sites in the past year were negative. FierceHealthPayer reports:

It’s time to face the facts–the American public dislikes health insurance companies. And that’s putting it mildly, considering that 70 percent of all opinions and comments about insurers posted on social media sites in the last year were negative.

(Read more: Insurers should take to social media to combat negativity – FierceHealthPayer http://www.fiercehealthpayer.com/story/insurers-should-take-social-media-combat-negativity/2011-10-07?utm_medium=nl&utm_source=internal#ixzz1aYo3DrmA 
Subscribe: http://www.fiercehealthpayer.com/signup?sourceform=Viral-Tynt-FierceHealthPayer-FierceHealthPayer)

I can understand some of that negativity. This past summer brought major upheaval for me as I searched for affordable health insurance for our employees. I asked our insurance agent early on to get us quotes. I was appalled at what came back from the company who provides our plan. As a small group (only 8 members plus one spouse) we are subject to huge variations in cost and are very limited in benefit choices. Health insurance is our second largest expense.

I interviewed employee leasing companies and other groups that claim to make you part of a larger group so you can benefit from lower pricing structures. Unfortunately, none of them were able to save us enough money to justify the severe limitation in benefits or the cost of membership. We ultimately bought a plan that increases copays and deductibles, but maintains most of the benefits we had….we think. How the insurer will choose to interpret those benefits when one of us actually needs to take advantage of them remains to be seen.

My experience is no surprise. Employers across the nation were faced with a  9% average increase in family premiums in 2011 while many of us were presented double digit increases, in spite of the recession.

The article mentioned above suggests that insurers should get involved in social media to combat their negative perception by the public. They should

Create a social media policy and then get out into the social world and establish a strong, positive presence. Tweet some healthful recipes, post exercise tips on Facebook, make announcements on Google+.

Whatever your specific strategy, though, make sure you monitor all social media sites for comments made about your company and then contact the poster to try and resolve the problem. Even if you can’t fix the particular issue, say because someone is griping about the lack of universal health insurance, you’ll have made an effort to connect with the public, which over time just might change their perception of the industry. – Dina (@HealthPayer)

In other words, they should get their marketing people to work in the social media sphere. Don’t do anything real to correct the negative perceptions of the public, just do your best to appear to care and to look good. Don’t let anybody realize that one of the major reasons the cost of healthcare is so high in the U.S. is because of the part played by the cost of health insurance.

I was rather distressed by that recommendation. Don’t do anything real…just do your best to appear as if you care about these negative perceptions.

I wonder what your experience is with health insurers. Does your organization provide health insurance for your employees? Is everybody satisfied with their plan and the cost of it? Have you ever made a negative comment about your health insurance on Facebook or Twitter? Ever made a positive one?

Please share your comments below.

Twitter Strugglers Are Not Alone

I was very pleased to read David Pogue’s NY Times column on Friday morning. It was really a relief to find that someone as tech sophisticated at Pogue also struggles with the possible benefits of social networks like Twitter.  Of course, I (and 1500 other people) started following him on Twitter immediately. His comments are most entertaining and I am sure there will be lots of tech tidbits that will be very useful to me personally. One of the biggest tips in his column was not to actually enter what you are doing right now when you Tweet (that is, when you enter a comment on Twitter). Entries that are personal are not really useful to the social network and are not really the best one can do. One of the first of Pogue’s tweets that I read was a link to a Twitter tutorial. If you have any interest in what Twitter is about, both of these articles will be useful to you.

For myself, I struggled this week with LinkedIn. Someone asked a question to which I had an answer, but it was a major effort to figure out how to enter the answer. In fact, I could not do it without also recommending an expert. While that might be useful sometimes, it was not what I wanted to do with my answer. Obviously, I was missing something and I could not find a way to get an answer to how to post my answer.

I also had a positive Facebook experience this week. We had a visit from a longtime friend and colleague who mentioned the name of another longtime friend with whom I had no contact for the past 14 or so years. I Googled this person’s name and found several references to someone with the same name. I read the various items and knew that some pertained to my friend; of others I was not sure. Then I found that the email for the “not sure” candidate was also on Facebook. I sent a Friend invitation and a note and the next day I had a reply. What a delight!

I also learned this week that not notifying my network of contacts that I have made a new blog entry results in few readers. So, this week I will return to my previous pattern of notifying certain folks that there is a new blog article that they might find interesting.

I am still not convinced that use of these social networks is going to be useful to me. They take a good deal of time to check daily and to make some entries. I have connected with people with whom I would not otherwise be communicating. I am not sure those connections will make any difference to my business or personal purposes. With enough time, I may make enough connections with others interested in mental health issues, behavioral health EHRs, and the ongoing struggles of healthcare professionals to be useful. Time will tell on this one. What about you? Has anyone else who reads this had any experience with social networks they would like to share? Do you use Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn or any of the other social media services on the Internet?