As part of an article I recently wrote for Benefit Selling regarding trends to expect in 2016, I solicited help from a handful of friends I consider among the smartest professionals in the industry. Due to article length constraints, I wasn’t able to share everything, however, they are graciously sharing their ideas here on our blog.
Reid & Heidi Rasmussen, owners of freshbenies, share health insurance trends they believe will have a direct impact on American consumers.
In Reid and Heidi’s own words
Physician Networks and alternative solutions
Networks will continue to shrink and access to doctors will tighten driving the need for brokers, employers and employees to find innovative solutions that round out benefit plans. The latest Towers Watson study noted that by 2018, 80% of large employers would implement a teleheath solution. Services that allow members to email specialists and get personalized answers in a few hours will gain traction. With fewer doctors in-network, out-of-pocket costs will continue to inflate, escalating the need for price transparency and bill negotiation services.
Prescriptions and carriers
Prescription costs will start to drastically increase again. While they’ve flattened out over the last few years due to major drugs turning generic, New specialty drugs are extremely expensive. As a result, some carriers will try to cover them - even if only in their highest tier - or make them non-formulary altogether.
Wearables and plan design integration
Employers will start accessing big data from wearables (Fit Bits, Apple Watch, etc.) and using the information to make plan design and care management decisions.
Carriers marketing to consumers
Health plans are just starting to modernize and focus their marketing and branding on the end consumer. This will continue in a big way - they’ll all get on board trying to earn the love and goodwill of American consumers. However, in the end, consumers won’t engage in the “brand love” because they're frustrated with the service they receive: lack of coverage, escalating out-of-pocket costs, increased premiums, and poor customer service levels.
What is the one piece of advice every broker needs to follow?
Reid: Don’t just sell health insurance. Be a true consultant on all aspects of benefits.
Heidi: Simplify for your customer. We’re living in a time where people aren’t impressed by your knowledge of the complicated. They’re impressed and will do business with brokers who can simplify the complicated. How can you un-complicate what you do?
Photo by © Tsung-lin Wu.