Success Speaks: Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan Talks Meeting Member Demands in Healthcare
When looking for a payments success story in the world of healthcare, you’d be wise to turn your attention to the Great Lakes and the work done by Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan (BCBS MI). In a recent webinar with AHIP (America’s Health Insurance Plans) and ACI, Faran Farooqi, Strategic Capability Implementation and Operations for Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, shared his insights into how his organization addressed the challenges of today to deliver a great payments experience for their members.
The Health Insurance Payments Landscape
BCBS MI was facing challenges that almost all insurers face: how to satisfy a wide array of members, including Medicaid and Medicare patients, while also meeting a new host of challenges presented by the implementation of the Affordable Care Act.
This was pushed even further by a surprising “competitor” of sorts. “We had very limited payment functions and ways members could engage us in comparison to the online experience a typical retail member has today, for example with Amazon.com,” said Farooqi. “It was a really big transition for us to explore member options to help bridge that experience they were accustomed to.”
Driving Member Satisfaction with Payments
Is it fair to compare the likes of Amazon to health insurers? Maybe not, but consumers are doing it daily, forcing all companies to re-examine their billing and payment processes. It had become clear to Farooqi that meeting member expectations meant delivering an experience on par with that of a top eCommerce business. This is a lesson that all health insurance providers should immediately begin taking to heart.
Why? Because when it comes to member satisfaction, billing and payments has proven to raise member satisfaction by 25%.*
The bad news is that health plan members report that the member experience did not improve over the past year. Just as troubling is the news that more than 40% of members report their health plan did not provide a good payments experience in customer service, communication, premiums, rates and fees.* This can be blamed on many things, including complacency, but as Farooqi explained, consumer expectations have shifted dramatically thanks to the payment experiences offered by top companies like Amazon.
The good news is that BCBS MI provides invaluable lessons on how healthcare insurance providers can adapt and win in this new payments ecosystem.
Favorite Ways to Pay
So what are the payment options that members are clamoring for? Here are a few you should consider.
In today’s world, mobile is king. The ability to quickly and easily pay bills or receive messages from a device that’s seemingly always (literally) at our sides is extremely powerful. This type of convenience most closely mirrors that of eCommerce, providing an experience consumers love and expect from all industries.
Mobile billing and payment options also heighten the impact of other conveniences, such as consolidated billing and tailored messaging. Imagine receiving your dental and medical bill in one statement, then receiving a text notification that the bill is either due or has been paid. You think members might like never having to pay a late fee? We bet your bottom line would love these increased collections as well.
Set it and forget it. Five words that can mean an increase in collected revenue and satisfaction. Recurring payment options, especially recurring card payments, are in high demand and it’s easy to see why. Paying bills without physically having to remember them or click a button (or three) ensures members will always pay on time.
For health insurers, offering recurring payments that include debit card, credit card and ACH payments provides a hands-off experience that gives consumers the power to choose their favorite ways to pay.
According to Lipis Advisors, real-time payments in healthcare will grow at more than 100% CAGR from 2018-2022. We’ve made the case for real-time payments before but it bears repeating. Members' ability to pay in real time keeps their accounts balanced and ensures they won’t suffer bounced checks or overdraft fees. There’s also the added bonus of delivering refunds or reimbursements to members in real time, which will always be a crowd pleaser.
The switch to real-time payments is a matter of when, not if. Insurance providers looking to gain an edge will be wise to begin their journey to real-time payments ASAP.
Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan Builds Payments Success
So how did BCBS MI achieve their goals? First, they gathered all the stakeholders, including ACI, to create the best business case possible. “Being able to engage with both the ACI team on site and the folks that were on the phone really helped propel us in the right direction.”
With the teams aligned, it was time to get to work. “When ACI came in, they really showed us there are various ways of thinking about this (payments),” said Farooqi. “It was really brilliant how the ACI technical resources and our sales support team were all in sync in helping us craft a solution and a roadmap.”
BCBS MI first introduced guest credit and debit card payments, allowing members to pay without the burden of creating an account. With this improvement came a decrease in calls to the call center, reducing this cost for the organization.
They also optimized their bill presentment experience. Farooqi was quick to mention that by adopting the retailer mindset, the team was able to create an omni-channel platform that really took advantage of a variety of touchpoints. Not only does this improve the effectiveness of the communications, it delivers a personalized experience for members.
By the end of this undertaking, BCBS MI had gone from 8 payment options to more than 31. But most importantly, the ROI showed immediate benefits.
“Our internal investment was paid off in 10 months.”
Farooqi already has his sights set on the future, with strategies to implement payment options through alternative payment providers including Amazon Alexa, Google Home and Apple Pay.
Build Your Strategy Today
With the 2019 enrollment season quickly approaching, the time is now to begin re-examining your billing and payment processes and start building your strategy to increase member satisfaction. Contact us to schedule a consultation with an ACI payments expert who can help you expand your offerings and enrollments.
To learn more, view the on-demand webinar.
*Third party survey of ACI clients. Forrester Research, Inc. “The US Health Insurance Customer Experience Index, 2017”, September 27, 2017.
Related Blog Posts
How Italian Banks and Processors Can Capitalize on Digital Transformation
The European payments landscape is in an era of significant change thanks to PSD2 and other macro factors, but there is more than one way to deliver real-time and open payments to meet PSD2 requirements and its technical standards. Banks and processors must manage this alongside their own set of domestic challenges and opportunities.
Overcoming Cyber Threats to Payments Security
Recently, Gene Scriven, chief information security officer at ACI, spoke at NACHA Payments 2019 on the ever-changing landscape of cybersecurity. Here are a few highlights from his session, including the impacts of cybersecurity breaches, today’s emerging threats and the new strategies to keep your organization safe.
Removing Gender Bias and Enabling Women to Succeed in Leadership Roles
The recent UK Women in Payments (WIP) Symposium 2019 took place in London, recognizing unique leaders who help uplift women in the payments industry. Among those recognized was ACI’s Melissa McKendry, vice president, Retail Banking Implementation Services, who was honored by WIP as the 2019 Advocate for Women.
Regulating for Real-Time: The Role of Government in Payments Modernization
Dr. Leo Lipis and Craig Ramsey, Head of Real-Time Payments for ACI Worldwide, continue their discussion on real-time payments and the findings of the new white paper, Get More from Real-Time.
Payments and Fraud: The Paradox Twins
Digital commerce through web and mobile is where merchants predominantly experience shopper growth today. This has become a hugely important domain for their focus. It offers a means for international growth, new market penetration and a way to engage with shopper-hungry Millennials in their culture. Merchants frequently adopt a Digital-First, eCommerce-First or Mobile-First strategy to ensure full corporate buy-in to this strategy.
Open Payments Systems for Merchants: Don't Close Down Your Options
Remember “Open Systems”?
It was a big industry nom du jour in the 80s and 90s. Every IT system had to be open and therefore flexible and future-proof. Nobody can argue with the logic behind this; making systems easy to integrate with other systems, ensuring vendors could cooperate with one another; creating agility to improve time to market and drive down costs.
Issuing and Acquiring in a Real-Time and Open Payments Ecosystem – The Global Picture
Dr Leo Lipis and Craig Ramsey, Head of Real-Time Payments for ACI Worldwide, continue their discussion on real-time payments, stemming from the findings of the new white paper, Get More from Real-Time. See part one.
Why It’s Time for Women to Rise UP
As a senior software engineer at ACI Worldwide, Rawan Shawar helps to guide her team’s priorities and enhance processes at both the team and organizational level. Recently, Rawan was selected by the organizers of Money20/20 Asia to be part the Rise Up Class of 2019.
Can Digital Payments Be Kind?
There is no doubt that the era of less (or minimal) cash is truly upon us. According to the Access to Cash Review, cash could fall to just 10 percent of all payments in the UK within the next 15 years.
Other countries, such as Sweden, have already seen significant changes – cashless payments have grown so quickly that only 10 percent of the 20 SEB banks in Stockholm now hold cash. Beyond Europe, China is leading the way with USD$12.8 trillion in mobile payment transactions in 2018.