The last few weeks have been a whirlwind for the healthcare industry. We’ve observed enrollment spikes, strong rhetoric emanating from Washington, and widespread opinions of what’s to become of the Affordable Care Act (ACA).
Media reports change seemingly every day, but the latest view is an inevitable end to President Obama’s signature health program. Many players have accepted that major provisions are likely to be repealed over a period of time and are now turning their attention to its TBD replacement.
The fluid situation has forced the payer community to quickly assess how to protect their membership, as the policy changes will presumably increase competition and amplify the focus on consumerism for both individuals and members of group plans.
From our point of view, with the ACA in the crosshairs, the need for innovation hasn’t been alleviated; it may actually be heightened. Insurance companies were already making improvements to their member services until they were required to reallocate resources to adapting to the ACA. Now we expect those resources to come back to help payers re-embrace consumerism.
Supporting this notion, Zipari surveyed several dozen health plan executives in November 2016 to gain deeper insight into the current state of member engagement. Conducted in the midst of the enrollment period, the respondents clearly prioritized the acquisition and retention of members who have more choices and exercise those options. They also expressed a strong desire to improve consumer experiences, which reflects a lack of satisfaction and confidence in their current infrastructure to deepen member relationships as the insurance markets become more volatile.
The risks and rewards may be changing, but the need for insurance companies to engage their members better is consistent with other parts of the economy and adjacent tech ecosystems. Macro challenges remain for health insurance companies with or without the ACA, but in terms of the future of innovation, consumerism will continue to drive the industry. That long cycle is definitely still moving.