The consumer-driven health care revolution is well under way as more and more consumers are opening health savings accounts and flexible spending accounts, and the assets in those accounts are growing.
This anticipated growth is challenging the health care industry to revamp its traditional marketing, rethink branding strategies and adopt a more consumer-focused mindset as it promotes innovative new HSAs and other products.
Brand awareness will prove to be an essential tool for health plan providers, third-party administrators and employers as consumers adopt a more prominent role in the health care decision-making process.
Consider the health care benefit debit card, which is emerging as an essential part of the health benefits mix. The card is the most direct link that health plan insurers, administrators and managers have with their customers. In fact, the percentage of consumers reporting they had used credit or debit cards for medical purposes grew by 50% between 1998 and 2003.
The card provides a golden opportunity for each player in the market to establish its brand and position itself as a superior health care partner.
By 2010, holders of 71% of all FSAs, HSAs and health reimbursement arrangements may rely on payment cards, and holders of 95% of HSAs may rely on payment cards, according to TowerGroup, Needham, Mass.
As health care benefit debit cards become standard issue for health care payments, consumers will expect the same level of service they get from their banking debit cards, such as 24/7 customer support and online access to account information and statements.