Many consumers can't get through to insurers due to long customer service wait times, so they're turning to social media--Twitter in particular--to express their complaints and criticisms. And insurers are listening, often responding directly to consumers with ways to immediately rectify the problems.
The Affordable Care Act has severely effected customer service for all companies participating in the affordable care act. Frustration has mounted even for those not involved with health benefit exchanges or subsidized care. Anthem Blue Cross in California is experiencing the brunt of many tweets after it canceled individual plans and switched hundreds of its members into new plans and withdrew premiums from their bank accounts without their knowledge. In several situations, Anthem spokesperson Darrel Ng tweeted individually to people who complained about the withdrawals, asking for their contact information so he could resolve the problem, ProPublica reported.
Did you know that Anthem has been using social media for customer service and complaints for some time?
Ng told ProPublica that consumers now are interacting with companies, including Anthem, beyond the traditional phone call. "In response to this new demand, we created our customer service Twitter account @AskAnthem several years ago to assist members," he said. "As consumers themselves started proactively contacting our other Twitter accounts, we started directing these inquiries to customer service for assistance."
Aetna spokesperson Matt Wiggin said the insurer recognizes people are using other methods to communicate. "There have been some instances where call volumes have been heavy and if people have not been able to get through or been able to get the information we need, they've either reached out to us through social media or other means available," he told ProPublica.
California HealthCare Foundation has been tracking Twitter comments related to the reform law and its recentreport found less conversation about the law between December 2013 and Jan. 15, 2014, compared to several months ago when HealthCare.gov launched with glitches and enrollment errors.
Recognizing consumers take more frequently to Twitter, insurers Aetna and Cigna have been maintaining a strong social media presence to manage their brand while taking quick action to remedy any complaints aired publicly,FierceHealthPayer previously reported.
"Social media gives us a tremendous opportunity to learn what the community needs," Carissa O'Brien, Aetna's social media director, told KHN. And by using Twitter, Aetna can educate and inform their followers about health and wellness.
She and her team of six employees aim to respond within an hour of the roughly 250 Tweets each month dealing with claims and other services. But O'Brien recognizes that it's just the beginning. "If we're looking to focus a 100-plus-year-old company on social media, that's massive cultural change," she said.
Using Twitter also keeps the insurers accountable. "Social media acts as a public documentation of how you resolve the situation," Ini Augustine, a social media strategist and head of SocialWise Media Group, told KHN. "It's more than a marketing tool."
Insurers like Aetna, Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield and Cigna have designated Twitter feeds, @aetnahelp @askanthem and @cignaquestions, respectively, that focus solely on marketing and sharing health-related news.
Read more: Insurers increase their Twitter presence to manage image - FierceHealthPayer http://www.fiercehealthpayer.com/story/insurers-increase-their-twitter-presence-manage-image/2013-08-09#ixzz2sP3Ud2Nd
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