Occasionally, a company may face a disruptive market shift that forces it to adapt in order to remain competitive (think Blockbuster). But seldom does an entire industry experience multiple simultaneous game changers, like those facing the US health insurance market today.
Beyond the looming uncertainty of the Supreme Court’s pending rule on the Affordable Care Act (ACA), there are several other seismic catalysts forcing private payers to reevaluate the ways they service their customers. The most obvious of which is the customers themselves.
Evolving expectations are dictating that companies in most industries shift resources to account for new “always connected” stakeholders. As digital consumers, we have all grown accustomed to conducting business our way, on our terms. And why should the business of healthcare be any different?
When implemented properly, digital marketing aims to identify personal interests and trends and deliver unique experiences that resonate individually with each customer across multiple channels.
But unlike most other industries, health payers also have a vested interest in education and member outreach (some would argue that it’s actually a responsibility), since the offline lifestyle decisions of their consumers directly impact their bottom line. In a nutshell, acute medical emergencies are much more expensive than regular preventative health maintenance.
Additionally, the Medical Loss Ratio (MLR) provision of the ACA stipulates that insurers shall spend at least 80-85% of their premium income on healthcare claims and quality improvement activities. That leaves 15-20% for administrative expenses, including marketing. In fact, it is estimated that private payers who fail to comply will issue consumer rebates totaling over $1 billion by August. So, now more than ever, it is imperative for payers to internally optimize efficiencies and develop effective marketing strategies that deliver measurable results.
In the long run, these changes are expected to result in affordable care for a healthier population. And as other provisions of the ACA significantly expand the pool of new customers for health insurers, the most successful organizations will be those who effectively navigate the changing landscape to build relationships with their customers, rather than continuing to simply facilitate transactions.