It’s Time for Insurance Carriers to Take Action in the Individual Market

The Affordable Care Act (ACA) has made healthcare coverage more accessible to millions of Americans, but the message hasn’t seemed to reach everyone and the repercussions for not enrolling are just starting to take effect. Only 41 percent of eligible individuals enrolled in coverage in 2014. The 59 percent (approximately 5 million individuals) who did not enroll may have regretted it once they went to file their taxes and realized they had to pay a penalty. Some may argue that the penalty is lower than the cost of health insurance, but have they really done their homework?

The Kaiser Family Foundation recently conducted a survey of individuals ages 18-64 about why they didn’t have coverage. They asked one simple question: “As you may know, the health care law requires nearly all Americans to have health insurance this year or else pay a fine. Which of the following comes closest to why you personally have not gotten health insurance this year?” The top answer – “Cost”. Not a big surprise. However when they explored further, more than 40 percent of those who stated cost as a reason for not enrolling in coverage were eligible for financial assistance.

As an insurance carrier, uninsured individuals represent a huge opportunity to expand your footprint in a market poised for growth—but only if you can meet the consumer where it lives. Now, that consumers are becoming more aware of the penalties, is a good time to take action.

Here’s how you can increase awareness and encourage enrollment:

Know Your Shopper Demographics

Look at your target audience. Individuals between the ages of 25 and 64 account for nearly half of the U.S. population.* Not everyone in this age group is comfortable with shopping online, much less disclosing personal health information. Is your online enrollment platform simple enough to understand? Can your agents access your online tools to assist individuals if needed?

The group with the highest number of uninsured individuals is age 26-34 according to a recent Gallup survey. Here is a group that grew up in the information age and has specific expectations when it comes to shopping online. Can your online enrollment process meet their expectations? Do you provide the tools they need to understand the plans and subsidies available to them?

Implement Modern Marketing Strategies

Direct paper mailers and TV commercials are not dead, but it’s probably safe to say that the Internet is the top source of information for most consumers. An increasingly popular way to engage with consumers is through social media. In fact, a recent Annalect survey of 500 smart phone users, aged 19-33, showed that 39 percent expect a social media presence from a company they will do business with. Your brand and your products are just a click away with social media and online advertising—both of which meet the expectations of the 19- to 33-year-olds who are most likely uninsured.

Make it easy for customers to buy from you

Most Americans are accustomed to shopping online through their smartphones, devices or computers. Others prefer a face-to-face shopping experience, which has led some insurance carriers to open retail stores. Either way, once you attract people to your stores, virtually or physically, you need to have the plans they want and make them readily available. The key to converting visitors to customers is to become a one-stop-shop, offering a fluid shopping experience that supports government subsidies and ancillary benefits enrollment. As an added benefit, one-stop shopping makes it easier for you to upsell, when customers have visibility into the plans that can supplement their health care coverage.

Watch “The Individual Marketplace: Meeting the Consumer Market Where it Lives” and learn how you can design a shopping experience that’s a lot more enticing and enlightening for the individual marketplace.

*U.S. Census Bureau