In the wake of insurers increasing their efforts to utilize the Internet to broaden their accessibility, streamline efficiency and reduce time and costs, two insurers have recently ramped up their online customer service capabilities.

Pittsburgh-based Highmark Inc., who provides health care benefits to 4.6 million people throughout Pennsylvania, now has reached 500,000 members participating in ePlatform, its Internet-based health product that enables employers and members to handle most aspects of their coverage administration online.

Group customers and individual members flocked to ePlatform, which was introduced in 2005. The Web site is designed to reduce administrative costs and increases efficiency by taking the paperwork out of administering a customer's health coverage.

"Through ePlatform, we have changed the way we do business with our customers," says Michael Fiaschetti, senior vice president of Highmark's Mid-Atlantic region. "We have given employers the opportunity to enjoy total online convenience by integrating all of our electronic capabilities. As a result, we are providing improved service for our group customers and members and more simplified administration."

Among the major ePlatform components is a range of benefit options. Although employers can choose from many different products and benefit designs, limiting the choices to particular benefits makes claims processing more efficient. Highmark also provides enrollment information to employer groups in an electronic format, and groups provide enrollment data electronically to Highmark.

A second insurer, Great-West Healthcare of Greenwood Village, Colo., a national employee benefits provider and subsidiary of Great-West Life & Annuity Insurance Co., deployed Member Connect, a new customer service model to better service members and improve customer satisfaction.

Key to the Member Connect service model is a Web-based self-service component designed to make transactional requests more efficient. Great-West ‘s Web site,, gives members answers to common inquiries regarding benefits, eligibility and claim information and offers ways to find a provider, request a new ID card, compare plan costs and access a library of health and wellness information.

The additional components to the Member Connect model include a program that assigns a dedicated advocate to help individuals during periods of complex medical care or administrative situations, a call center staffed with customer services representatives trained to adapt to callers’ communication styles; and self-service via the phone.

“Each service component composing Member Connect provides employees and their families with resources to assist them with their health care needs, and the model is transforming Great-West Healthcare from a transaction-based to a relationship-based business,” says Donna Goldin, senior vice president, healthcare operations, Great-West Healthcare.

Sources: Highmark Inc. and Business Wire

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