Growing membership: tools & tips for medical plans

March 4, 2021
Josie Rasberry

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To grow membership in your health plan, you need to do more than throw money at advertising. That may attract eyeballs but won't lead to real growth and retention. But don't fret, there are cost-effective tools and tips to drive sustainable growth. Let's discuss a few ways to attract potential members, establish brand advocates, and make you stand out.

Incentives for referrals.

Your best advocates can be your current members. Ideally, you’re already providing great service that drives word of mouth growth. Unfortunately, sometimes members need a little encouragement. Try implementing a referral program that rewards members who bring in new members. Simply include a “who referred you?” section in your new member registration so that current members can receive an incentive like a gift card when they refer new members.

Offer digital tools.

At this point, digital tools are a necessity. Everything is going digital now and COVID-19 has only accelerated that. As a health plan, offering digital tools will not only keep you relevant but also improve your members' healthcare experience (which leads to more referrals.)

For example, price transparency has been a big topic for the last year. It is officially a rule for hospitals, but so far they've been lackluster with implementation. These confusing lists don’t help patients. Your health plan can be the solution though! Provide your members a shop-and-compare app so they can see procedure pricing and make educated decisions. When people are looking for a new health plan to join, your digital tools will make you stand out.

Get specific.

One way to grow membership is to target patient populations that aren’t served well. Conduct research to see which groups you could serve with health plan options and offerings that are specific to their needs. You might even consider covering alternative treatments if those are popular in certain areas. For example, if you find that your members use a chiropractor or massage therapy frequently, consider including that in your plan! Many health plans don’t cover alternative treatments. If you do, you'll have an advantage to stand out and grow your membership.

Provide patient advocacy.

Healthcare experiences are stressful, and this is magnified by the American healthcare system. Members get confused about which providers take their insurance, what services are covered, and when to seek care. Patient advocacy eliminates this confusion. Your members will have access to a dedicated patient advocate who listens to their needs and finds the best option for them. Leading to happier members, and you guessed it, more referrals. Employers have figured this out. In fact, 72% of employers surveyed offered patient (or healthcare) advocacy benefits to their employees, up from 57% just two years earlier.

Including advocates to negotiate bills will also set your health plan apart. Medical bills are expensive. But, that cost is not finite; patient advocates have the tools to negotiate down members’ bills. Members will appreciate that you offer this service and tell their friends. In fact, one survey found adding a third-party bill negotiation service led to 17.6% average NPS growth.

Wrapping it up.

Your health plan doesn’t need to spend a ton of money or use gimmicks to grow membership. You just need a few valuable tools and tips to enhance your plan offerings. These solutions will grow your membership and keep your current members happy.

Download the Complete Guide to Retaining Health Plan Members.

Learn the best strategies and tips for retaining your members while keeping costs low.

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