Health Insurers Are Not Communicating Effectively with People on Medicare

Most health insurance documents are too difficult for people on Medicare to understand.

This image has been cropped and resized. Courtesy of CDC/ Judy Schmidt acquired from Public Health Image Library. Licensed under Public Domain.

An analysis of health insurance documents conducted by VisibleThread revealed that 86.6 percent of insurance companies are not communicating effectively with people over the age of 65.

Nearly 15 percent of the U.S. population is older than 65 and can benefit from Medicare, making the population important for insurance companies. And one-third of the U.S. population that cannot read are in this age bracket — an estimated 10.6 million people.

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More than 50 percent of adults over the age of 65 are at the basic or below basic level. Yet insurers reported using complicated language, long sentences, passive voice and complex word density to communicate with them.

While there are federal guidelines in place that describe complex words and phrases and urge organizations to use plain language, only six of the 30 insurers studied had a complex language score of 1 percent or lower. Amerigroup had the best score of 0.74 and High Mark had the worst score of 2.66.

VisibleThread found that 17 insurance companies scored an average of 6.56 percent for passive voice use. And according to VisibleThread, effective communication has less than 4 percent use. Using active voice makes communication clear and accessible for readers.

Additionally, insurers are using too many long sentences, which make content harder to read.

The insurers who scored the worst in this area scored an average of two times higher than the recommended 5 percent or less.

And 66 percent of insurers produce content more difficult to read than Moby Dick.

“All consumers value transparent, understandable content,” the report said. “And when it comes to health insurance, our research indicates this is not the case.”

MJHS — Elderplan and WellCare tied for the top ranking of the 30 organizations analyzed and surveyed.

For people on Medicare to get the most out of it, insurers need to focus on content that is easily readable, short and concise to get its message across properly.

Current technology that uses artificial intelligence and natural language processing can help insurance companies measure content clarity.

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