May 08, 2014

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Rhode Island (BCBSRI) offered limited payment options to customers and handled vast quantities of paperwork prior to the implementation of ACI Bill Payment Solutions from ACI Worldwide. The electronic solution simplifies billing for the insurer and its policyholders in a critical time of new healthcare mandates.

“One of the biggest challenges was to move from a business-to-business, to a business-to-consumer model,” says Nate Bosgraaf, channel manager at BCBSRI, of the industry changes. “As more individuals deal with us, we had to find a way that we could adapt to what the members are expecting.”

Before the start of its recent implementation project, BCBSRI customers could submit cash or check payments in-person or via mail. They could also use their bank’s online bill-pay system, but those payments were still delivered in paper format to the insurer’s office. BCBSRI wanted a flexible system that would appeal to the needs of tech-savvy customers while minimizing the amount of manual work involved in processing monthly payments.

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The ACI Worldwide electronic billing system allows customers to make payments without the burden of traveling to the insurer’s office in downtown Providence, R.I., and withholds the payments from being processed until they are approved. Most importantly, though, the solution allows customers to pay with debit and credit cards, which is likely to prove essential as more take responsibility for their own healthcare plans.

“With the mandate that everyone has to have a compliant policy, there is a large number of folks that are going to be insured that didn’t have plans before, or were not previously required to have individual plans,” says Dan Bolger, senior manager of channels and business development at ACI Worldwide. “I think we’re going to hit an inflection point where many consumers who have not previously managed a health insurance expense will start off being able to pay for their plans and transition to not being able to afford their plans based upon monthly cash flows.”

The system was chosen in May of 2013 and went live by mid-December. “We did have to do some training with customer service so they’d be able to support our customers through the payment process,” Bosgraaf explains. Additional training was also required for staff members responsible for processing payments.

BCBSRI has not extensively advertised its new system but is pleased with the success of the online payment offering. The insurer is currently in the process of implementing a mobile payment option for its customers. It hopes this will place it at a comparable level with other companies their policyholders frequent.

“When they’re coming to us, they’re not going to measure their experience with us against another insurer, they’re going to look at everything they’re using today,” Bosgraaf explains. “We had to be able to match that experience.”

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Kelly is an associate editor for Insurance & Technology. Prior to joining InformationWeek Financial Services, she was a staff writer for InformationWeek and InformationWeek Education. Kelly has also written for trade ...