Agent Sales News

Six tips to maximize your mobile marketing

If you place a priority on marketing, you’ve probably thought about taking advantage of smartphone technology. And it’s very much worth considering: Ninety percent of American adults have a cell phone, and half of those have a smartphone that delivers email, text and Internet in addition to voice communication.

Mobile marketing can help you connect with existing customers, reconnect with former ones and develop new ones. But like any other medium, it has its own set of parameters, advantages and limitations. So how can health insurance professionals leverage this new technology? Mobile should integrate with an existing marketing and communication plan. Consider these tips:

  • Define your goals: Know specifically what you want the medium to help you accomplish. Increase sales? Build brand awareness? Drive traffic to your website or your physical location? Mobile can help with all those, but not at the same time.
  • Build an app: When clients and prospects download and install it, they’re giving you free real estate on their devices. Make sure it’s easy to use and provides services your clients and prospects want.
  • Offer an incentive: Give a reward for installing or using your app. Consider offering the basic app for free and charging for a more robust version. Or a discount on selected services.
  • Adapt the message to the medium: No one wants to read long narratives on a tiny screen. So keep it short and to-the-point. Avoid fancy HTML images that take a long time to load.
  • Optimize your landing page: Smartphone users are often in quick-decision mode and don’t want to consider their options at length. So optimize the mobile version of your website’s landing page to capitalize on this mentality. That means easy and minimal reading without enlarging the text, and large, simple action buttons. Like the one that says “buy.”
  • Make it easy to opt out: Some users want to hear about what you’re selling, but not on their smartphones. By offering an easy way to opt out, you show respect for the user’s time and can still reach the person through other channels.

By integrating mobile technology into your existing marketing plan, you can open a whole new channel and connect more efficiently.  


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Florida Blue's position on telemedicine legislation

As a broad concept, telemedicine (defined literally as “health at a distance”) makes a great deal of sense. It lets doctors use advanced communication technology to expand care for patients—especially those in remote areas—and reduce costs.

But legislation currently making its way through the Florida Senate has elements that Florida Blue views as troubling.

“We support telemedicine initiatives that expand access to care, improve quality and support patient-centered care,” said David Pizzi, Florida Blue director of political and external relations. “We know telemedicine offers vast potential. The challenge is assessing all the impacts. There must be safeguards in place to protect patients and ensure that this does not become another driver of unnecessary utilization that adds cost without corresponding benefits.”

As of mid-March, the Senate version of a telemedicine bill would require insurance providers to reimburse telemedicine services at the same rates as face-to-face consultations with doctors. Florida Blue expressed concern about this provision on economic grounds: “We think market forces must be allowed to guide market prices,” Pizzi said. “Price fixing is the fastest way to break a market.”

Under the same bill, eligible telehealth providers would be limited to Florida-licensed physicians (not nurses), and out-of-state physicians who are registered. This scenario “sets up an artificial barrier that stifles innovation, harms care and increases cost," Pizzi stated. "And we also believe it is not always necessary to have a physician at the other end of the camera.”

One thing about telemedicine is clear: We have much yet to learn. The scheduled final day of this year’s session is May 2.

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Some markets show premiums declining under ACA

One the most popular assertions about the Affordable Care Act (ACA) was that it would help drive down the cost of health insurance. And according to a story coproduced by Kaiser Health News and National Public Radio, the outlines of that pattern are starting to emerge in several markets throughout the country.

The story singles out the ten least expensive health insurance markets in the country, based on the average premium for a hypothetical 40-year-old patient purchasing a silver-level plan. While the differences in premiums seem startling, especially at the regional and national levels, the broad outlines of correlations are starting to emerge. 

Several factors are in play. Among them:

  • Robust competition: In markets where providers compete more actively, insurance costs are trending lower.
  • Collaborative patient care: Efficient care models such as Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs) help drive down insurance costs. Markets where physicians are organized into silos, more detached from one another, tend to have higher insurance costs.
  • Early cost-control measures: In states that started regulating Medical Loss Ratios and other cost control measures early, premiums trend lower.
  • Health risks: In markets with a relatively high statistical incidence of chronic health conditions, like diabetes or COPD, premiums trend higher.
  • Provider network size: Markets where consumers demand a wide range of provider networks tend to correlate with higher insurance rates.

The lowest premiums were observed in parts of Minnesota, Pennsylvania and Arizona. Here in Florida, although no markets ranked among the nation’s cheapest, many of these same factors are exerting downward pressure on premiums.

Source: Kaiser Health News


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Four ways to build customer-centric relationships

In this age of relationship marketing, with customers enjoying a wide selection of choices and sellers scrambling to differentiate themselves, a customer-centric approach is critical. That’s true throughout the economy, and particularly true in the health insurance market.

There’s a lot of dissatisfaction out there. Based on a survey commissioned by RightNow and conducted by Harris Interactive, a measly one percent of customers say their expectations of a good customer experience are met. The vast majority of customers—86 percent—are willing to pay as much as 25 percent more for a superior customer experience. Among the key drivers of customer loyalty: friendly reps and easy access to information and support.

That’s good news for people who pay attention and know how to spot an opportunity. How can you leverage this dynamic to your advantage? Consider these tips:

  • Refresh your electronic touchpoints: Keep your website and social media pages uncluttered, with navigation that’s thoughtful and easy to use, along with relevant images and consistent branding.
  • Reach out: You can’t just slap a page together and put it out there. Take advantage of content marketing through social media. That means a constant stream of relevant blogs, videos, podcasts—all in support of your brand and your message.
  • Balance face time and online: Follow up in person with people you’ve met online, and vice versa. Join local and regional industry organizations and participate. And volunteer actively with nonprofits organizations you support. Join a board. Share your knowledge on a panel.
  • Stay educated: Keep your skills updated and relevant. Get trained in emerging technologies so you can leverage them first. And use those training experiences to network.

By staying focused on your customers’ expectations, and meeting them on their own terms, you can position your business to outpace the others.

Source: Small Business Trends

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New tech priorities follow ACA rollout

Just as it transformed the American system of health care delivery, the Affordable Care Act (ACA) is changing the way insurance agents and benefits advisors do business. Big increases are expected in the sheer amount of customer service contact from members and groups.

These dynamics point to the need for new technological solutions.

Customer Relationship Management (CRM) systems: Benefit advisors and agents will be called on to answer more questions on more topics from more people than ever. This is a good time to explore various CRM options and their capabilities. The right system—one that fits your unique needs—can streamline the process and optimize delivery of exceptional customer service. Well-integrated CRM can also position you to capitalize on incremental sales opportunities in the voluntary benefits market: products like supplemental, dental, and other forms of insurance.

Online security: Providers have mastered the technology associated with keeping medical records under control, but insurance agencies may still have a way to go. Investing now in robust systems to protect financial and accounting data will pay off. Failing to prioritize this issue can lead to big problems.

Mobile options: Optimizing online access via mobile devices will become critical, as consumers become increasingly comfortable with a self-service approach to health insurance. And each time a client or member uses a mobile device to get a routine question answered, that’s one less call your office has to process.

The whole point of computer software is to streamline, automate and simplify. Considering the trends in the health insurance market, there’s no better time to put these tech tools to good use.



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Making the web work for you: Low-cost tools

While you’ve been busy keeping up with Affordable Care Act (ACA)-related and other dynamics in today’s health insurance market, you may have missed the revolution underway online. Today, your company’s relevance—and possibly its survival—require a robust web presence. Fortunately, it doesn’t have to blow a hole in your marketing budget. Consider these tools for staking your claim on the web.

Webinars: Web technology lets you invite multiple clients or prospects to your own topic-focused online events without having to hold multiple one-on-ones all over town. So you can invite your best clients to an educational session on a particular aspect of the ACA, for example. Hosting a webinar—or a series of them—sets you up as a subject matter expert. It puts you in multiple places simultaneously, without ever leaving your office. By archiving your webinars on YouTube, you create a library you can link to in other marketing efforts, and increase your exposure in the process. Two strong candidates in the webinar space: Yugma and GoToWebinar.

Traditional social media: Websites like Facebook handle huge traffic flows every millisecond. And while it was launched primarily as a personal networking tool, businesses saw its potential quickly. In fact, of all the industries that have embraced Facebook, insurance is number one. A Facebook page can round out your online presence, especially when you encourage followers to share your posts. The same applies to Twitter, which requires all messages to be expressed in 128 characters or less.

Email services: With mobile devices in so many hands, people check their inboxes more often than ever. A constant stream of emails and newsletters can keep your business top-of-mind and relevant to existing and prospective clients. By answering frequently asked questions proactively, you burnish your credibility while you prospect. MailChimp (free) is a good choice if you don’t mind doing much of the detail work; Constant Contact (inexpensive) gives you more bells and whistles to create, send and track your outgoing communication stream.

LinkedIn: Imagine Facebook for professionals. LinkedIn has emerged as a leader in professional networking sites and offers a variety of membership plans, starting with free. You can join industry-focused groups to learn about trends, and it’s good for getting your name out there among potential clients. Your LinkedIn profile becomes something between an online resume and a website.

The Internet is not a try-it-and-see proposition. If you jump in, do it with the intention of keeping your presence alive and top-of-mind. That means a constant stream of posts, tweets, events or emails, along with close attention to content and your list of recipients or followers. And, if you make the effort, you’ll see results.


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“Move into Spring” with Florida Blue e-news

Spring is the time to get moving and get active. Check out this month’s

Florida Blue e-news for tips on eating healthier and fun facts on getting fit. Plus, learn how you, your family––and members––can cut health care costs and get quality care.

Get informed with feature articles on:

Let Florida Blue e-news help you move your body, move forward and move into better health.

Note: ASO groups, FEP and State are excluded from the mailing but can be emailed a link to the newsletter upon the group’s request.

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6 ways to keep customers happy

What’s it like to be your client, to sit across the desk from you? If you want to keep your clients, you have to keep them happy. That means assessing the client experience—constantly and proactively—and fine-tuning the way you meet their needs.

That’s what the most successful international brands do. To follow their lead, start with these basics:

  • Evaluate your performance: Whether you use formal methods like surveys or informal ones like simply asking one-to-one, seek honest feedback from your clients and prospects. You can use that valuable information to address any specific red-flag issues and optimize the experience in general.
  • Personalize: Clients and prospects expect relevance. If they don’t get it from you, they’ll look elsewhere. Learn their distinct preferences and hot buttons by engaging with them individually, then tailor your approach accordingly.
  • Don’t mistake silence for satisfaction: For every unhappy client who actually complains, there are many more—as many as 26, according to one source—who stay silent. They’ll voice their dissatisfaction to everyone other than you, or they’ll simply go away without ever telling you why. Make it easy for clients to speak up, so they don’t clam up.
  • Focus on existing clients: If you spent too much time prospecting for new business, you could be neglecting your best segment: your existing client base. You stand a much better chance of selling to clients who know you and your product than converting new ones.
  • Encourage sharing: When it comes to spreading the word about how wonderful you are, your clients have a lot more credibility than you do. So encourage them to be your cheerleaders on social media like Facebook and Twitter.
  • Adapt, don’t copy: When your competitors do something that inspires you, like a new strategy or communication component, by all means learn from their success. But make it your own. Differentiate yourself. Otherwise, you’ll be seen as another me-too on the bandwagon.

To succeed in today’s hyper-competitive health insurance market, prioritizing these basics is a lot more effective than ignoring them. Cheaper, too!

Source: Business2community

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In this new health care reform era think like a rookie

Sometimes, despite your vast sales experience, knowledge and training, it’s productive to think like a rookie. That’s because rookies are starting from scratch, without stale information to unlearn and bad habits to break.

Here’s an example of a new agent on one company’s team who landed a huge group just two doors down from the regional sales office. The veteran agents were shocked and peeved. They demanded to know how she had landed this big account when everyone knew it was a waste of time to call on them because the Human Resources (HR) lady had been saying no for years.

“Oh. I didn’t know that,” shrugged the new agent. “The HR lady said she had been thinking about doing business with us for awhile, but no one ever came by and asked.

Unlike their more seasoned sales counterparts, rookies start out with a clean slate, says Brian Hicks, author, speaker and personal development advocate in an article on “Rookies call on groups they’re not supposed to call on,” Hicks says. “They have to. They don’t know how it’s always been because they’ve never been there before. They enter an industry with new ideas and capture the market because they’re not prisoners of the moment.”

That same rookie mindset serves insurance agents well—especially during this time, Hicks says, because “we’re all rookies, but not just any rookies. That’s the cool part.”

  • Take all experiences and roll it into a rookie mindset.
  • See opportunities instead of obstacles.
  • Quit worrying about having all the answers and looking stupid.

His advice for agents navigating the uncharted Affordable Care Act territory is simple: “Never—ever—say never. And since this is new to all of us, we all have to pretty much fake it ‘til we make it.”



Source: BenefitsPro


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New Upgrades for Florida Blue Mobile

New upgrades for Florida Blue Mobile

Florida Blue’s mobile app has put on a fresh new face. All the convenient features that members use regularly are still available, along with some new ones—all wrapped in a free, updated app that’s now even easier to use on the go.

Users can navigate by using the familiar swipe motion to move between pages on a touch screen, or by choosing a list view. Plus there’s a new way to toggle between multiple policies with Florida Blue. With this feature, members can view multiple policies, past and present, at log in.

The app updates automatically with content specific to existing member’s policy information. There’s also a wealth of information for prospects including finding a doctor, comparing plans, locating a Florida Blue center, health care reform and Florida Blue contact information, as well as exclusive features such as:

  • Health toolkit––current health care news, fun facts, free ringtones and interactive tool that provides annual health checkup recommendations
  • Habit Heroes––an action-packed, immersive comic book that chronicles the adventures of health Habit Heroes as they clean up health hazards around the globe
  • Here for you––highlights of the many ways Florida Blue can help members and prospects in their pursuit of health

These upgrades to Florida Blue’s mobile presence are differentiators in the marketplace, giving your prospects and clients more reasons to choose and stay with Florida Blue.

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iPad guide for use with consumers now available in Spanish

The Florida Blue Insurance Guide for iPad users has gone multilingual: a free Spanish language version is now available.

The interactive app is designed to be used in one-on-one settings primarily with individuals under 65. Because thousands of Floridians will seek information about health care coverage options – many of whom have little or no experience with or knowledge of health insurance – content is focused on the basics of health care reform and the impacts of the new mandate. By answering a few simple questions, the app can estimate the federal subsidy amount, if any, your clients may qualify for – valuable information for conversations with your clients about their needs and budget.

If you already have the latest version of the app, the Spanish version is an additional capability and does not require the download of a new app, simply an update. If not, the app is available through the Apple App Store. Use this valuable tool to help educate Spanish-speaking individual under 65 clients about health care reform, its impacts and their health plan options.

How to get the app

  • Open the Apple App Store's search feature and enter the keyword “Florida Blue.”
  • Choose and download the Florida Blue Insurance Guide.
  • When opening the app for the first time, you will need to enter a security code. Refer to Agent Bulletin #A14-033. You will only have to enter the security code once.
  • Please do not share this code with anyone who is not a Florida Blue appointed or contracted agent.

How to access Spanish language on the app

To view the Spanish version, select the menu, and click on the settings wheel (located at the lower right of the drop-down menu), then select Spanish language. After selecting Spanish, the app will close to update. Once the app is reopended, all content will be displayed in Spanish.

Read more about the app in Agent Bulletin #A13-245.

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Improve your presentations and speak without slides

If you are often called on to speak to groups of customers or prospects you probably use slides, a whiteboard or other kind of visual aid to support your message.

Not so fast, Nick Morgan, a speaking coach and author of the forthcoming Power Cues tells Fast Company. Human beings aren&apost good multi-taskers. “Showing people slides demands that an audience multi-task,” Morgan says. By asking them to read what&aposs on the slide and trying to take the speaker's message, "it actually interferes with retention of the important kind of information we really need to get from a speech," he explains.

Instead of relying on slides as a crutch, he suggests a four-step approach to effective presentations.

  1. Start with a problem-solution approach to a topic you&aposre passionate about.
  2. Whittle your message down to its bare essence by limiting the points you make to the ones that are most relevant.
  3. Make your case more compelling by framing it as a story, not just a series of facts or instructions.
  4. Finally, enlist friends and colleagues to practice your presentation. Use technology to record, review and refine.

Speaking without visual aids might seem counterintuitive, and it might feel a little like performing on a high wire without a net, he admits. After all, having a visual to fall back on can mitigate your fear. But with practice, you can optimize your presentations without slides. And that helps you optimize your sales results.

Source: Fast Company

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New Medicare wellness program for members over 65

A new Florida Blue Medicare wellness program for mature adults over 65 started in February.

Focused specifically on Medicare beneficiaries, members and non-members alike can take advantage of free health-related workshops, fitness classes and wellness seminars designed to their specific needs.

The programs are available at the 11 flagship Florida Blue Centers and individuals can register online or by calling the centers.

Sessions include:

  • Weekly fitness classes including yoga, Tai Chi and Zumba
  • Fall prevention series
  • Healthy eating program to boost physical activity
  • Wellness seminars focused on setting wellness goals, medication management, alcohol awareness, depression awareness and STD/HIV prevention

To encourage participation, BlueMedicare HMO members were mailed a program brochure in late February and BlueMedicare PPO members will be emailed information in late March. Medicare collaborative physician groups and agents will also receive collateral to distribute.

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Health insurance websites welcoming more “invincibles” and other visitors

Online health insurance exchanges are staging a comeback––especially among younger, healthier consumers. According to a Commonwealth Fund survey, the number of insurance-eligible Americans visiting online health insurance exchanges surged from 17 to 24 percent between October 31 and December 31, 2013.

The tracking survey, highlighted in an article in Kaiser Health News, examined site visitor data for as well as sites operated by 14 states and the District of Columbia. Significantly, the “young invincible” segment (those age 19 to 24) accounted for 41 percent of total visitors to marketplace sites by year-end.

“It’s a striking finding,” said Sara Collins, lead author and vice president for the Health Care Coverage and Access program at The Commonwealth Fund. “That’s good news for the health of risk pools” because participation by youthful, usually healthier people helps hold down insurers’ overall health care costs.

Additional analysis showed that 77 percent of adults who visited the health insurance exchanges said they were in excellent, very good, or good health. The survey included a nationally representative sample of 622 adults potentially eligible for the Affordable Care Act (ACA)’s new coverage options.


Source: Kaiser Health News

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Insureds use more preventive services––just as likely to adopt risky habits

Americans with health insurance are more likely than the uninsured to use preventive services such as flu shots and health screenings, according to a new study.

They are no more likely, however, to take health risks such as smoking.

That may come as a surprise to observers who believe insurance coverage causes a rise in risk-taking, according to Anthony Jerant, a professor at the University of California, Davis. Jerant co-authored a study that appeared in the Journal of the American Board of Family Medicine. His findings are discussed in an article published in HealthDay.

Tracing the link between insurance and risk taking to the early days of property insurance, Jerant notes that people with fire insurance policies became less diligent about managing fire hazards. But he found no such link in the health care industry.

“Health care is different,” he said. “Someone might not care if their insured warehouse burns down, but most people want desperately to avoid illness.”

Jerant’s study found that people with health insurance used more preventive care services than those who were uninsured. He also found that “[health] insurance status had no effect on risky behaviors such as smoking, weight gain and not using a seat belt,” according to the article.

The implications for health insurance agents are significant. For consumers entering the health insurance market for the first time, the findings underscore an important message: Simply by being insured, a consumer is more likely to use preventive services—and may be less likely to need medical care.

Source: HealthDay

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GeoBlue worldwide coverage now available for students and faculty

New short- and long-term individual health insurance plans and services for students and faculty are now available through Florida Blue.

The GeoBlue Navigator plan offers worldwide medical coverage for international students and faculty inside and outside the U.S.—without the typical limits, eligibility conditions and benefit exclusions common among traditional plans. The Navigator combines these benefits with concierge-level medical assistance and easy access to the Blue Cross and Blue Shield provider network in all 50 states. Other benefits include:

  • A range of deductibles and rates
  • Unlimited annual and lifetime medical maximum
  • No deductible for office visits and doctors
  • No waiting period or sublimit for preventive services
  • No precertification penalty for inpatient or outpatient care
  • Coverage for pre-existing conditions with creditable coverage (prior HTH student plans qualify)
  • Coverage for sports or terrorism-related injuries
  • Access to elite providers in over 180 countries outside the U.S.

For students, or those who travel for pleasure, missionary or business purposes, the GeoBlue Voyager plan provides up to $1 million in medical coverage while temporarily away from home. Other benefits include:

  • A choice of medical limits and deductibles
  • Medical evacuation, mental health, prescription and accidental death and dismemberment
  • No precertification penalty for inpatient or outpatient care
  • Coverage for terrorism-related injuries
  • Access to elite providers in over 180 countries outside the U.S.

Pre-existing conditions coverage is also available in combination with an insured’s primary health plan.

For more details on the new plans, download the GeoBlue brochures.

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Be thankful for customers that admit dissatisfaction

When dissatisfied customers make the effort to complain to you directly, they’re doing you a favor. In an article published in Business 2 Community, Nunzio Falco Simeone notes that 96 percent of unhappy customers don’t bother to voice a complaint—and the vast majority of them, 91 percent, never return.

Those facts alone would be bad enough for insurance agents, but what magnifies the impact is that most unhappy customers vent their frustrations, often unfairly, on social media. That’s why it’s a smart strategy to encourage people to come to you with complaints. Successfully resolving a complaint can turn the same previously dissatisfied customer into a vocal supporter of your agency—someone who’s likely to tell between four and six others about their positive experience.

When confronted with a dissatisfied customer, what are the best strategies for effective resolution? Simeone offers these tips:

  • Stay calm and polite, listening with understanding and kindness. Never take business complaints personally, because they’re not directed at you. They’re directed at your business.
  • Listen actively and carefully. Check your assumptions and make sure the solution you intend to propose is one that the customer will view as an improvement.
  • Take full responsibility for resolving the issue, even if you think the customer is at fault.
  • Be thankful. View the interaction as the opportunity it is—to turn a negative into a positive.

For agents, the message is clear: re-program your thinking about unhappy customer. Because when you handle their issues constructively, they just might turn out to be among the best customers you have.


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Agreement with Mayo means one cost for knee replacement patients

Under a bundled payment agreement with Mayo Clinic, many Florida Blue members requiring total or partial knee replacement can take advantage of seamless flat rates. Entering its second year, the agreement is being hailed as a win-win-win that affects patients, the Mayo Clinic and Florida Blue.

  • For many patients who need the surgery, bundling the individual services means the procedures can be performed for one cost, which is less than the cost of the same services when billed separately.
  • For the provider, the agreement gives patients one more reason to choose Mayo facilities, which increases utilization of resources and exposes more patients to Mayo’s expertise.
  • For Florida Blue, the agreement streamlines accounting requirements, underscores the company’s commitment to efficient claims processing, adds value to employers using Florida Blue, and promotes better health outcomes among individual members.

This short video, explaining the benefits of the agreement, can be shared with employers and members. 

The bundled payment option is not available to Florida Blue members with coverage under Medicare Advantage, Medicare Supplemental, Go Blue, Cover Florida non-catastrophic plan, or self-insured groups that have declined to participate in the program.

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New Provider Rating Tool Drives Sales

Adding to its innovative ways to add value, Florida Blue recently launched a new online rating system to its web-based provider directory—a capability that creates a powerful incentive for prospects to choose Florida Blue over competitors.

Members are invited to use the new rating tool to rate primary care physicians, specialists, hospitals, pharmacies, dentists and other providers on a wide range of categories, including:

  • ease of making appointments
  • helpfulness and courtesy of staff
  • communication with the provider
  • wait time
  • condition of the facility
  • overall satisfaction

The tool allows for numerical ratings as well as written comments, which will be reviewed to ensure compliance with Florida Blue’s conditions of use. Members can use the rating tool to share their provider experiences with other members and as a way to research providers they’re considering using.

Agents can promote the rating tool as another feature that differentiates Florida Blue and supports its messaging with respect to transparency, innovation, customer service, and empowering members to make informed health care decisions.

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Help Your Clients Understand Health Insurance Terms

The health care landscape can be confusing. Rules and regulations seem to be endlessly shifting.

Nearly three-fourths (74 percent) of workers “sometimes or never” understand everything covered by their insurance policy today. And, with the trend of consumer-driven health care on the rise, members are expected to take a more hands-on approach in selecting their health benefits options.

Knowing insurance jargon is crucial, especially during open enrollment season, in order to read the literature, to understand benefits options available and to make informed decisions about health insurance.

While it’s a small step, you can start helping your clients and their employees by educating them about basic, yet essential, health insurance terms. As a guide, feel free to distribute this list of health insurance terminology with definitions any non-expert can understand.


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For customer acquisition, email beats social media

As competition in the health care insurance market heats up, agents might be considering allocating more resources to social media like Facebook and Twitter. Don’t do it, warns Andrew Paul, a 15-year veteran of the email marketing industry. In an article for Business2Community, he urges marketers to stick with well-executed email campaigns instead.

Paul cites research that shows acquisition via email has grown by 400 percent over the last four years, accounting for seven percent of all new customer acquisitions currently. Email consistently outperforms social media as a driver of acquisition, he adds, with Facebook and Twitter lagging far behind. Other recommendations for boosting acquisition:

Marketers should optimize their acquisition emails for all media, particularly mobile platforms.

  • Organic SEO and insightful blogging remain core result drivers.
  • A proven back-to-basics approach should include under-promising and over-delivering.

Not that social media are worthless, Paul says. They’re not, but they’re best used in a supporting role. Bottom line, if your new customer acquisition strategy includes a solid email component, stick with it and make tweaks as appropriate to squeeze out every last lead. If you’ve been sinking significant acquisition resources into social media, re-evaluate based on results. You’ll probably want to beef up your email budget instead.


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Florida Blue website enhancements benefit agents

Florida Blue recently introduced improvements to five of the most highly used pages on the company’s outward-facing website, Many of the enhancements have particular relevance for agents, including:

  • Better distinction between the home page and “Agents” page
  • Redesigned “Agents” landing page displays the most frequently used links within a new overall display, which includes:
    • Direct log in to accessBlue
    • Quick Links
    • Agent Sales News
    • Sales Offices
    • Products & Plans
    • Resources
    • Agents Tool Box
    • Latest News Bulletins
    • Live Twitter Feed

The company also made changes to improve navigation and add value to the user experience.

  • Live feeds to Florida Blue’s social websites—Facebook, Twitter and YouTube—bring fresh content daily to visitors.
  • Optimized for use on tablets, representing a significant step toward meeting Florida Blue’s overall global site strategy.
  • A new 508-compliant website for visually impaired site visitors is accessible from the header of the entire website.

To see what’s new, go to and look for the link to the “Agents” page on the right hand side.

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Hispanic Facebook page signals aggressive approach to key market

Florida Blue Familia -- Florida Blue’s page for Spanish-speaking consumers -- is now on Facebook.

“Research shows 12.4 percent of Facebook’s U.S. audience is Hispanic, and one out of every five minutes spent on mobile is on Facebook,” said Annie Erstling, senior director, emerging media, for Florida Blue. “Florida Blue Familia is an important way to engage with the Hispanic community and illustrate how they can count on us for affordable products, personal support and educational resources in their own language.”

As part of its efforts to connect and engage with Hispanic consumers, the company’s new page features enhanced, culturally-relevant messaging. Other “social” communications being implemented in 2014 include:

  • The addition of Hispanic cultural trends, topics and holidays on the @FLBlue Twitter profile (combination of English and Spanish content).
  • The launch of a proprietary Facebook application celebrating Hispanic culture and cuisine.
  • Communication with top Hispanic online influencers throughout the state.
  • A “tweet chat” in January to further promote Florida Blue as the preferred health care option for Florida Hispanics.
  • Hosting Florida Blue’s first-ever Hispanic blogger and influencer summit in first quarter, to encourage enrollment in Florida Blue plans before the March 31 deadline.


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Focus on wellness: Penalties becoming commonplace in wellness programs

While more and more companies are stepping up campaigns to encourage exercise and healthy diets, many are finding that penalties are possibly the best prescription for wellness success.

But what works better—financial incentives or penalties?

According to a recent survey by Towers Watson, seven in ten U.S. companies say that developing a workplace culture where employees are responsible for their health is necessary. Employers are increasing use of financial incentives, specifically penalties and outcome-based incentives, to improve health outcomes.

Next year, nearly 40 percent of American companies will use penalties — such as premium and deductible increases for individuals who don’t complete certain health management activities.

But while employers institute wellness programs to comply with the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, they might run afoul of other federal laws, notes Susan Lessack, a partner at law firm Pepper Hamilton. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has yet to issue any guidance under the Americans with Disabilities Act on whether, and to what extent, participation rewards — or penalties for non-participation — are lawful.

Outcome-based incentives that reward or penalize employees based on tobacco use will grow from 54 percent next year to 71 percent. Rewards or penalties for other biometric outcomes, such as body mass index, blood pressure or cholesterol level, will jump dramatically from about a quarter in 2014 to 68 percent.

Health care incentive expert Francois de Brantes says most individuals feel losses greater than they appreciate gains. A good example, he says, is the industry’s reaction to the wide availability of generic prescriptions in the 1990s. “The average clients wanted brand-name drugs, and the shift rate to a generic substitute was about 30 percent,” he said. “Now, there is a plan design that, if there is a generic substitute, the plan member must pay the difference beyond the cost of the generic. Once that was instituted and the penalty was phenomenally high, the shift rate was suddenly 90 percent.”

But companies that have moved forward with financial penalties to encourage participation have felt the backlash.

In July, Pennsylvania State University told its employees and their spouses that they’d face a $100 monthly surcharge unless they completed a biometric screening and an online wellness profile. They also had to certify they’ve had — or planned to have — a physical. Penn State stressed it wouldn’t have access to the health screening results.

Cincinnati-based Western and Southern Financial charges health-care-premium surcharges to employees with high body mass indices. Midwestern hospital chain Indiana University Health, formerly Clarian Health, announced several years ago that it would deduct money from employees’ paychecks for unhealthy behavior, such as being overweight.

In all cases, employees have protested — but that’s a good sign, de Brantes says.

“You can give the $50 reward or a membership to the gym, and it will attract those who wanted to do it anyway and see it as free money,” he says. “The reason we’re hearing so much screaming about this is that it is going to force people to change a behavior, or pay the price, and they resent that. But in the end, compliance toward the desired behavior is far greater.”

Studies published by the Association of Psychological Science found that employees felt threatened by wellness programs with penalties, and preferred incentive-based policies. But both are becoming increasingly widespread, partially because the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act offers greater incentives for healthy employees.

While more organizations are rewarding rather than punishing, that could begin to change, says Roy Buchinsky, director of wellness for University Hospitals in Cleveland. “If you can prevent your employees from requiring care, you can save money,” he said. “They will do what they need to for people who are less motivated, and that may mean lighting a fire underneath them.”


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PPO dental information available on

Did you know members with PPO dental plans can access both health and dental information, or dental-only information online, 24/7?

Just follow these simple steps:

  • Go to and click Login.
  • Once logged in, next to Member #, click the dropdown box and select your dental policy. Click GO.
  • Click Claims & Benefits.

Once your Account Summary displays, click the Coverage tab to see your benefits; click the Claims & Deductibles tab to view your claims.

Members can also get eligibility and benefit information, find answers to frequently asked questions, see maximum/deductible details, review procedure history or find a dentist.

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