In July and August, Cigna and the City of Houston’s Benefits division asked all city employees with health care coverage to complete an online survey about their level of satisfaction with customer services, the network of doctors and hospitals, claim handling and specific experiences with Cigna and the city’s benefits team.
This was the first survey conducted since 2012 and 1,138 employees responded. Employees were also given the opportunity to write in comments and questions.
You asked, and we are listening. Based on your comments, let us show how we have introduced some new initiatives to enhance customer service. Here are some sample anonymous comments from employees and a response from Benefits:
“It will help the employees if a couple of employees from the benefits team visit each department at least every six months. This will help employees who have questions regarding their medical, dental and vision insurance coverage.”
To address this challenge, new on-site health benefits educator Tracy Edwards will rotate among departments to help employees understand the medical and pharmacy benefit plans provided by Cigna. (Read more about Edwards in our sidebar profile on Page 12.)
Margaret Baptiste, a veteran of the Benefits division, will serve as a health benefits educator for the City. She will visit with employees on-site and answer questions about other benefits such as life insurance, vision, dental and supplemental insurance.
“We receive too many emails and broadcast messages. Most of those either get deleted or overlooked because they are so frequent.”
And an opposing comment …
“Be a little better at explaining the wellness program that allows us to have a reduction in cost of health care. It took me six months to find out that I had the insurance that was eligible, and by that time it was too late to get my biometric screening turned in.”
The city’s wellness program is among the most robust and effective in the nation, and Human Resources’ wellness team has been recognized for its success. By focusing on preventive care and encouraging employees to know their numbers and take charge of their health, the city has seen a reduction in claims for catastrophic and chronic conditions. The health assessment data collected is a valuable tool that gives Cigna and the city a holistic view of employee health. It enables the wellness team to tailor specific educational programs for employees, and the city can even offer zero-copay prescription drug benefits based on the concentration of specific health conditions.
For example, when the biometric screenings and health assessment revealed a prevalence of high cholesterol among employees, the city began providing free mail-order generic cholesterol medications to employees. The prevalence of diabetes among employees also caused the city to provide free mail-order generic diabetes medication.
There is a persistent approach to wellness communications aimed at reaching as many employees as possible and encouraging the highest level of participation. Last year, 89 percent of employees who were enrolled in a city health plan completed the health assessment and earned the requisite 500 points and discount on their health plan contribution. For every employee who would prefer fewer calls, emails, post cards, posters, social media posts, another employee claims they didn’t know about the health assessment or the points deadline.
“The benefits team does not return phone calls. The only way to get assistance is to physically walk into their office.”
This survey was taken before the Benefits division introduced a new interactive calling system. By calling one centralized number, 832-393-6000, employees are now directed to the desired service, such as retirees, active employees, pension, wellness, and others. The new system has streamlined the customer service process, drastically reducing the number of walk-in visits and connecting callers with the right person as soon as possible. Also, representatives are committed to returning calls within 24 hours. For ongoing issues, the new system allows different representatives to access someone’s information from a previous call, instead of the caller having to repeat or re-explain the situation to someone new. The benefits administration service center is open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.
“Do not call me at home to discuss my health. That is not your business. It is my doctor’s. You just keep running the business end in a satisfactory manner and leave medical advice to the experts.”
This comment refers to Cigna’s health coaching calls, which are separate from the wellness program. Health coaching calls are triggered by health risk issues diagnosed or treated by your doctor. Cigna’s medical experts — nurses, nutritionists, and other specialists — will call to offer additional support and advice to help you manage chronic conditions and make health changes such as weight loss or smoking cessation. Plan members can choose to discontinue health coaching calls, but you can also think of this as chance to ask questions of a health professional who is familiar with your condition without the need to make an appointment and pay a copay. By participating in the health coaching calls, you can earn up to 200 Wellness points.