Health Insurance Turns Social

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Anyone who knows me will tell you that I love social media. I stay up-to-date with it 24/7. But new uses for social continue to surprise and impress us across every industry. In one trend, health insurance companies are turning to Twitter to resolve customer issues and respond to questions.

What’s surprising is the targeting. Insurers aren’t using just one company account—they’re creating profiles specifically for customer service.

These service profiles are changing the way customers interact with insurers. Now customers have a touchstone for where to direct questions and companies are also actively responding to complaints whether they’ve been addressed to the company or not. When health is on the line, the faster the response, the better the outcome for patients and companies alike.

Twitter also allows health insurance providers to:

  • Share more detailed contact information
  • Manage their brand’s reputation and online presence
  • Demonstrate accountability when faced with complaints, publicly

Companies like Anthem, Aetna, and Cigna are already active on Twitter. @AetnaHelp fields questions from over 250 customers every month with a dedicated team responding to customers within the hour. To create a more personal experience, the company even posts photos of their customer service representatives and ends every tweet with the initials of the employee posting on the company’s behalf.

Cigna uses its main company account, @Cigna, as a place to promote thought leadership and medical insight, while @CignaQuestions is used exclusively for customer care. Another account is specific to Cigna career opportunities. All of these together allow Cigna’s audience to further define what type of information they want to see from the company.

@AskAnthem provides support to customers by answering quick questions, pointing them to further resources, or directing them to an email address where they can discuss personal issues.

With all of these social profiles, the largest hurdle is discussing private health information in a public forum.

Most companies clearly explain the regulations against discussing personal health information on the sidebar in their main Twitter profile. Some companies have clear customer service email addresses where they direct involved or private questions, while other companies request a customer’s private email address through direct message in order to carry the conversation on in private.

With these regulations in place, it can be difficult for an insurance company to provide true first contact resolution in a forum like Twitter. However, insurers are also reaching a larger customer base by providing a new avenue to voice concerns and ask questions.

Do you think that the benefits of social care outweigh the regulations that may make it difficult to interact there? What other heavily regulated industries have you noticed turning up on Twitter?