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Can’t Get Through to Your Health Insurer? Vent on Twitter
Posted on Jan 29, 2014
By Charles Ornstein, ProPublica
The insurance company Aetna has a dedicated Twitter account, @AetnaHelp, to assist with customer service queries 2014 and it’s been busy lately.
Spokesman Matt Wiggin said the beginning of the year is a busy time for the insurer and is particularly so this year because of the Affordable Care Act and its changing deadlines.
“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 said. “It’s just another way for folks to engage with us.”
Square, Site wide
Sometimes, Aetna’s tweets are even proactive. When a customer of Anthem Blue Cross tweeted dissatisfaction and said her business was up for grabs, Aetna’s customer service team chimed in.
The California HealthCare Foundation has been tracking Twitter sentiment around the Affordable Care Act. In a report released last week, the foundation found that in general, there has been much less discussion about the law recently than there was in October when HealthCare.gov, the federal marketplace, didn’t work. In December, the conversation shifted somewhat to the affordability of options.
Catherine Teare, a senior program officer for health reform and public programs at the foundation, said she doesn’t have data about consumers interacting with their plans on Twitter, but added that an uptick makes sense.
“I don’t think these tweets give us necessarily a way to grade either the performance of the insurance companies or of the exchanges, but we certainly didn’t see the complaints about insurance companies back in November because people weren’t that far through the process,” Teare said.
Even state insurance exchanges themselves are getting into the act, responding to Twitter queries lobbed their way. This from California:
Anne Gonzales, a spokeswoman for Covered California, said the exchange has a social media team that monitors its Twitter feed, Facebook pages and Instagram account around the clock.
“We actively respond to consumers using social media to answer their questions and to help them through the process,” Gonzales wrote. “We get as many as 500 Facebook posts a day, and the social media team answers up to 50 questions a day, so it’s becoming a valuable tool for people in need.”
Gonzales said the exchange’s Facebook and Twitter followers help each other out and compare notes. “People root each other on to get covered, and congratulate others on successful enrollment,” she wrote. “We recognize that social media is the resource of choice among younger, more tech-savvy consumers, and we are using it as a tool to get consumer feedback and to reach out to those experiencing difficulty in enrolling or getting information.”
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