An Open Letter to Health Plans

Every time I turn around, there is another person who is complaining to me about the customer experience in the health care system. As soon as they hear that I’ve worked for and am working with health care plans, they are so willing to share their stories with me. I get it, and I appreciate their frustration, so I thought I’d write a letter to the health plans.

These three issues are the three I hear time and time again. 

As a matter of fact, I’ve been hearing these exact same themes for years. And I continue to hear them. What that tells me is that instead of focusing on the basics of delivering their customer experience, these plans are chasing whatever is the current shiny, bouncy ball.

A while back, I was talking to a seatmate on a plane about his healthcare experience. He was telling me that he was on the phone, on hold with a plan. The wait time was significant. He told me he’d been on hold with customer service for quite a while, and had at least another 20 minutes to go (according the recorded voice that popped up every few minutes).

At some point, the recorded voice offered him the option to communicate with the plan on Snapchat. This gentleman’s reaction was priceless. And unfit to print. And I agree. If you can’t nail the basics of what your customers want (like picking up the phone in a timely manner), you have certainly not earned the right to offer a customer Snapchat.

My advice? Focus on these three issues that are consistent and pervasive in the customer experience you offer. You must nail the basics before you earn the right to have a relationship with me.


An open letter to heath plans.


Dear health plans.

I’d like to take this opportunity to ask you to pay attention to a few things for me. As I look back at how I struggled through yet another open enrollment season, there are a couple of areas that seem like they should be simpler.

I figured I’d take a minute and share them with you so that you could understand my frustrations – after all, I’m trying to CHOOSE YOU, and you’re making it really, really hard.

#1. I know my medicines are expensive. I know you want me to take something else, but my doc and I have decided that these are what work best for me. Can’t you do something so that I do not have to go through the hoops of getting permission to fill my prescription every year? I’ve been on these forever –and every year we go through the same dance. Can’t you recognize that you’ve already had that conversation you needed to have with my doctor and just let me fill my prescription?

#2. I know you have these contracts with certain doctors, and I understand that you want me to only see doctors that you have a contract with. If that is the case, can you please make sure that the tool that I have to use to ensure that my doctor still has a contract with you is right? It seems like every time I need a new specialist, or one of my family needs a new doctor, and I go to use that tool you have on line, that something is wrong with it. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve gone online, used the tool only to find out later (usually when I call the doctor to make an appointment) that they aren’t doing business with you anymore. This is the number one decision point for me when I choose you – and I feel like you can’t get the most basic thing right…


#3. Every single year for years, I’ve chosen you. Yet every single year, for years, you’ve treated me like I’m a first time buyer and that you’re meeting me for the very first time. You ask me the same questions. You don’t remember anything about me from last year. If I can remember the additional password to log into one of the 20 versions of your “choose and compare” tool, then you may have an inkling of who I am, but you seem to launch a new one every year and I just can’t keep up. You continue to ask me how I want to be contacted, yet you completely ignore what I’ve told you. You ask me for my phone number constantly – and let me tell you, from the amount of voice mails you leave me, you obviously have it!


I think it all boils down to a few really simple requests. You have to earn the right to have a relationship, not just a transaction with me – and the way you treat me by making all of this so hard? Well – you’re not even close to earning that right. Take a step back guys, and figure out how to make this customer experience easier for me – after all, I’m trying to CHOOSE YOU.


One of your frustrated customers


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