There’s no denying that the landscape of health insurance is a constantly changing one. In addition to health care reforms happening all over the world, insurers also have to keep an eye on changing consumer trends, as well as the way that technology is rapidly revolutionizing the industry.
The healthcare ecosystem as a whole is quickly becoming more complex as time goes on. This presents a unique set of challenges that health insurance providers must overcome if they hope to stay relevant and maintain customer trust. Below, we’ve compiled a list of some of the most common issues that health insurers are currently facing—and how they may be able to turn difficulties into valuable opportunities:
Connecting with Consumers on a Personal Level
The sense of disconnect between consumers and health insurance providers is a long-standing issue that continues to plague the industry even now. Many customers feel that their insurers don’t see them as people; they find how they’re treated lacking a distinct personal touch. At the same time, insurance providers tend to treat their clients with objectivity, often at the cost of making an emotional connection. From there, it isn’t hard at all to see why customers might feel that their insurance providers see them as little more than figures on a sheet of paper, minimized to their health conditions or what coverage their policies offer.
At its heart, the provision of insurance is still a service occupation. Insurers should strive to make meaningful connections with their clients. They can do this by taking on the role of trusted advisors. They should be credible sources of information, able to guide their customers into making valuable choices that will benefit their health and well-being.
Using Technology and Making Sense of Big Data
Advancements in technology have benefited both the health and insurance industry in many ways. Consumers are now better informed, and wearable smart devices and the Internet of Things have also made it easier than ever to obtain and compile accurate customer health and behavioural data. Technology is helping us all live healthier lives and make better choices, and insurance providers would do well to sit up and take notice.
Knowing how to harness the power of technology and big healthcare data can be a major advantage for insurers. The information obtained can be used to paint an accurate picture of a consumer’s current health status, which will then determine what kind of coverage is most appropriate for a prospective client. It can also be used to deliver customer-focused, personalized care where appropriate. Insurers can also utilize technology to facilitate connections between policyholders and the medical assistance they need, transcending distance with teleconsultations and videoconferencing.
Finally, one of the most important ways that insurance providers can leverage technology is by using it to keep clients healthy in the first place. Financial incentives from insurers can be just the motivation a customer needs to abandon a sedentary lifestyle and make significant life changes. Technology can be used to make sure that they stick to their new goals.
Mounting Testing Costs
According to a 2017 article published on Healthcare Finance, the cost of unnecessary tests and treatments performed on patients comes out to about $200 billion per year. In that same article, unnecessary testing was found to do more harm than good: superfluous diagnostic measures can stand in the way of a patient in need of care, delaying them from receiving it promptly.
Costs can be drastically reduced by eliminating needless testing and shifting the model from standardized to personalized care. Data can help insurers here, too; there shouldn’t be any need to test someone for pre-existing conditions known to be present. Diagnostic procedures should be nonetheless comprehensive, but they should only be performed as necessary.
Simplifying the Language
Another common source of disconnect between customers and their health insurance providers is language. While most health insurers are able to speak knowledgeably about subjects pertaining to their field, some of the terms and jargon they use may as well be an alien language to the average person. This can have a negative effect on both prospective and existing clients: new customers may be turned off and forego taking out health insurance entirely because its value was not communicated clearly to them. Meanwhile, existing customers may come away from conversations with their insurers feeling confused and devalued.
Using commonly understandable language is key to building trust and rapport in any relationship. Insurers should know how to translate complicated terms into ones that can be more easily comprehended by laypersons. Insurance providers would also do well to utilize other forms of communication such as video, graphics, and social media to convey their message to customers.
Health insurance providers are up against tough odds, it’s true; but these challenges are by no means insurmountable. Most of the challenges listed here, as well as ones that will surely present themselves in the future, can be overcome with a customer-centric mindset. Moreover, medical workers who have passed challenging exams such as USMLE step 1, will have the necessary preparation to succeed in the face of adversity.
Ezekiel Sprouse is a digital marketing specialist with a keen interest in nature and fitness. On weekends, he can be found cycling, running with his dog, or trekking. He likes to keep himself up-to-date with the latest news, particularly those that concern health issues and breakthroughs.