Web users want on-line management of insurance

The majority of Internet users (78%) who are covered by health insurance have an interest in managing their benefits through a payer’s Web site, according to a study conducted by Cybercitizen Health for the Internet marketing company Cyber Dialogue in New York City.

"This high level of interest reflects deep levels of consumer frustration with health care red tape and bureaucracy," says Scott Reents, manager of health care strategies at Cyber Dialogue. "It also represents an enormous opportunity — on-line benefits management is a strong candidate to become the killer app’ for Internet health."

In particular, 67% of on-line users would like to be able to check the extent of their coverage for various procedures and physician office visits. Other features showing a high interest rate include:

- checking status of filed claims (56%);

- finding in-network doctors and hospitals (47%);

- looking up information on alternative or supplemental health plans (47%);

- filing claims (40%).

Only 8% of the insured Internet users, however, actually have used their insurer’s Web site, and 68% aren’t aware if their insurer even has a Web site.

These findings are based on interviews with more than 2,700 adults in the United States. The study was fielded in July 1999.