Mobile technology quickly becoming ubiquitous means a revised strategy for successful private exchanges.

Comparison between the audiences at the unveiling of a new pope 2005 and 2013 in St. Peter’s Square. In just eight years, mobile technology became ubiquitous.

In our recent webinar, “Insurer-Led Private Exchanges Are Emerging as a Critical New E-Commerce Channel,” Paula Sunshine, SVP and Chief Marketing Officer, Independence Blue Cross (IBC), and Jonathan Rickert, CEO, Array Health, offered a summary of key consumer trends. They looked at how insurers such as IBC are responding in order to engage and retain members. Trends such as consumerism, the rapidly accelerating shift to mobile communication, and the ongoing move away from employer-sponsored health insurance are driving insurers to adapt and use their private exchanges to gain an edge.

Consumers want health insurance ecommerce to be simple

First, Sunshine explained that although insurers have put great effort into providing tools to help consumers engage with them more directly, most consumers still don’t use them and continue to struggle to understand the complex concepts and terminology associated with health insurance. For example, according to Healthsparq, while 96 percent of insurers offer provider search tools, only 50 percent of consumers use them. When it comes to estimating treatment costs, nearly two thirds of insurers have online tools, yet a dismal 22 percent of consumers take advantage of them. The challenges boil down to a gap in expectations. Consumers expect healthcare to work like retail: Interactions should be simple; they should be personalized based on what you already know about the consumer; and everything should be handled digitally.

Making health insurance ecommerce mobile

The second trend that’s impact is increasing is mobile. While it used to just be a topic of discussion for engaging millennials, no more. Sunshine illustrated the point with two photos of the new Pope in St. Peter’s Square in Rome, one from 2005 and one from 2013. In 2005, it’s a sea of people, but in 2013, it’s a sea of people and their glowing phone and tablet screens. According to an instant poll of webinar attendees, 84 percent indicated that mobile is “extremely important.”
IBC has taken the initiative to use consumers’ love of mobile to deliver the right content to the right person at the right time. They use texting very effectively with a program that targets specific members with information delivered through their HIPAA-compliant secure text messaging program. For example, flu shot reminders resulted in a 38 percent conversion rate for people who took action to get their shots.
In addition to health-related outreach, they are using texting to help people become familiar with online tools available. Their outreach to members who don’t have a Primary Care Physician (PCP) identified links them directly to the Provider Search tool to make their selection. Sunshine summarized, “We believe these tools have helped improve engagement. It’s an example of meeting our consumers where they are with bite-sized content at the right time and directing them to the right tools. It supports our goal of creating a competitive advantage for ourselves with this level consumer-centric engagement.”

The individual market is heating up

The third major trend, presented by Rickert, is the disaggregation of the small-group market as consumers move out of group-sponsored coverage and into individual coverage. There are several factors that are driving this change, including the high cost of group coverage and the availability of coverage through public exchanges. From the perspective of insurers, with the high cost of customer acquisition, it’s critical to keep members as they make the transition from group to individual coverage. Rickert shared the results of a recent survey of industry executives indicating that 70 percent grade themselves as poor or very poor at capturing members as they transition.
Sunshine continued the discussion by sharing industry and IBC data that offers predictions for individual market growth through 2020, supported by initiatives already undertaken by many employers that is resulting in a larger number of consumers seeking individual coverage. In order to retain members through this transition, insurers can use their private exchange to deliver six key advantages to help insurers retain members for life.
Array Health wrapped up the webinar with a demonstration of the Array Spectrum e-Commerce Platform, featuring the Individual Marketplace.
See the demo and watch the complete webinar here.