Why I Joined My Health Insurance Advisory Board
By Aaron Darling, Real Estate Agent with First Premier Realty in Aberdeen, S.D.
As a self-employed licensed real estate agent, husband and father of three, I can’t rely on an employer for health insurance.
I’ve been with Avera Health Plans for the past several years because I like that they are a local company and that our health insurance plan is tied to a health system.
Because my wife and I are on a budget, the monthly premium payment is our major consideration. To help control that monthly cost and keep it manageable, we’re willing to have more out-of-pocket costs. We can cover our day-to-day expenses, but we need to be prepared for any big expenses – this is why health insurance is so important to us – we want to be covered for big “what ifs."
Making Decisions To Have a Voice
Given that health insurance has been part of so many of our budgeting discussions as we’ve seen our plan costs increase, I joined the Avera Member Advisory Board three years ago when I was given the opportunity. Any chance to have a voice in making my health plan work better for me and others in my community seemed like a good idea. It’s been rewarding to see that changes have actually occurred.
The points of discussion in our meetings are primarily related to communications and access. Some examples of what we have discussed are: We talked about the importance of making the bill pay option easier to find on the website so you can quickly pay your bill. We’ve also discussed how we like to receive informational materials or if we think mobile clinics would be popular in Aberdeen.
Helping Improve Things
I have also had the opportunity to share my personal experiences along the way that led to change. For instance, we had issues adding our new baby to our insurance and received multiple insurance cards. It was frustrating because we wanted to be sure our baby was added to the plan.
After discussing this during an advisory meeting, I realized this had been an issue for other members as well. We talked about improving the process and the Avera Health Plans employees took that back to their team and figured out how to make the process less confusing.
It’s nice to have a voice in my health insurance company because it’s something I’m directly involved in. It’s even better to realize that they’re actually listening to us.
None of these changes are big overhauls in the insurance industry. But hopefully these small improvements will benefit others in my community who use Avera Health Plans.