There’s a revolution stirring in today’s medical insurance market, and it’s changing the playing field for consumers, carriers and agents. Spiraling costs are driving millions of consumers toward the individual medical market, where flexible and cost-effective policies enable them to manage their risks and their costs.
Insurance carriers of all shapes and sizes are meeting this growing demand by offering high-deductible policies, health savings accounts and other innovative products. And agents are returning to center stage as the primary drivers of policy growth. In this environment, carriers succeed by giving agents the products and tools they need to help customers navigate today’s highly complex health insurance environment.
Individual medical is the fastest growing segment of today’s health insurance industry. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the market expanded from 16 million lives in 2002 to 19.6 million in 2005. And IM’s greatest growth is still ahead. By 2010 an estimated 26 million people will be viable customers for IM policies.
As this meteoric growth draws more insurance carriers to the consumer choice arena, many are finding that agents and brokers hold the key to success. Structural differences between traditional and consumer-driven policies create a more complex and consultative sales process. For example, these offerings deliver broad choices in terms of costs and benefits, and it takes time and analysis to find the right risk/cost formula for each individual. These and other differences make product breadth, efficient administration and open communication between carriers and agents critically important.
Insurance carriers are standing out in this increasingly crowded market by giving agents and their customers the support they need at every step of the process–from product development and marketing support through renewals and claims. This support is especially critical in the IM arena because many variables contribute to the final sale.
Because each client has different needs and priorities, agents benefit from a broad product portfolio that provides a wide array of choices. Clients who are self-employed or work in traditionally underinsured professions like retail or construction can benefit directly from the variety of new and affordable policies options now available–including HSAs–as well as list bill for those whose employers are opting out of small group insurance but still want to connect their employees with health insurance coverage.
And many clients will definitely benefit from the tax and retirement benefits of HSAs and will look to their health insurance advisor for the latest news and advice on their benefits.