Although the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) has undoubtedly changed the health insurance market, it may not be for the reasons that most people think. What’s clear, however, is that employee benefits professionals need to adapt to new customer needs and expectations — in other words, they need to learn how to thrive rather than merely survive.
Legislation has forced a shift in the employee benefits landscape while at the same time calling for higher quality care for all. It’s also helped make health care more accessible and affordable. But the real change has come in the form of transparency demands from a wave of consumers who are taking charge of their own health care.
It’s also showing in the new roles many insurance professionals find themselves called to fill — advisor, innovator, strategic partner, futurist. Based on the Aflac Healthcare 2025 Studyi, a number of emerging trends will, over the coming decade, move brokers away from simply offering products toward a more educational and consultative role.
Are Brokers Successfully Grasping the Coming Industry Trends?
Aflac’s study of more than 3,000 U.S. consumers and employers offered a look at where the industry might be headed — and how brokers can prepare.
Today’s employers are being asked to do more with less. This means that brokers can play a key role by stepping in and offering innovative solutions, for example, educating employees about the process and value of their total benefits package otherwise, a poor benefits experience could reflect badly on the employer.
Higher out-of-pocket costs are also driving demand for a retail marketplace and a redefined employer value proposition. While most employers see benefits as a way to attract and retain quality talent, roughly 90 percent of employees typically choose the same benefits year after yearii, showing that employees perhaps don’t see the value of flexible coverage.
This phenomenon isn’t likely to keep occurring in this wave of health care consumerism, though — which is why brokers and consultants should reframe the benefits experience from a “check-the-box” activity for employees toward a solutions-based, individualized strategy.
Companies have, in a way, already begun to offer employees more control over coverage rather than simply selecting blanket coverage for hundreds or thousands of employees.