Consumerism in the Insurance Industry

What Are America's Leading Insurance Carriers Thinking Right Now?

In today’s economy, employers need every advantage available to recruit and retain the employees who can grow their business. 

With benefits being a key factor in employee satisfaction, insurance carriers are in a unique position to give employers that advantage. But as health care and technology evolve, understanding and meeting consumer expectations will be key to capitalizing on that position. 

We recently gathered together 20 executives from the country's largest health and voluntary carriers - all Benefitfocus customers - for a forum on consumerism in the insurance industry.

Here's a quick overview of our discussion: 

Plan Fit = Satisfaction

If consumers have less coverage than they need, they could be left facing out-of-pocket health care costs they can't afford. So if they get sick, they either skip out on necessary care, putting their health at risk, or they have to dip into their savings or go into debt, putting their long-term financial security at risk. 

Conversely, if consumers have more coverage than they need, they could end up feeling like they're wasting money - and rightly so. Once those premium dollars are gone, they're gone.

Either way, consumers will typically not take personal accountability for making the choices that created these outcomes. Instead, they'll blame their negative experiences on the insurance carrier(s), or on their employer, who will likely pass the discontent through to the carrier(s).

Getting people into the right plans is paramount to consumer satisfaction, and carriers must take it upon themselves to make this an integral part of their strategy.

Medical No Longer Enough

The idea of "plan fit" extends across the entire benefits package. It's not just the core medical plan that determines consumers' ability to comfortably navigate their health care needs. Supplemental coverage in the form of voluntary benefits like short-term disability, critical illness and accident insurance is becoming table stakes for employers of all sizes to compete for top talent. 

Consequently, health insurance carriers are under immense pressure to offer more robust product portfolios, to make it easier for employers to meet the varying needs of their workforce. And voluntary carriers must find a way to take advantage of this growing opportunity in the market.

The Way Forward

At Benefitfocus, we're using our technology platform to help health and voluntary carriers partner together for a better, more complete consumer experience.

It starts with a consumer-centric enrollment experience. Through a guided shopping process that features data-driven decision support tools, groups can help their employees easily identify the plans that fit their unique health and financial needs. When employees are able to understand their benefit options on a personal level, they can be more confident in their choices.

Then, because of our platform's scalable interfaces with many of the country's largest voluntary benefit providers, health insurance carriers are able to seamlessly incorporate additional offerings into the enrollment experience. Through our Certified Carrier Program, carriers can offer their employer groups a comprehensive benefits portfolio. Which means that groups can offer their employees a comprehensive benefits portfolio. Which means employees can easily assemble the combination of coverage that will minimize their risk. Which means higher employee satisfaction and higher customer satisfaction. And carriers know what that means.

Learn more about how marketplace technology is enabling the shift to consumer-focused health care and benefits at One Place 2017. Click here for more details.