Anthem Inc. released its earnings for the fourth quarter of 2017 today, and it held a conference call to go over its with securities analysts.
During the call, executives from the Indianapolis-based health insurer did something that has become unusual during health insurers’ earnings calls: They talked about wanting to sell commercial health insurance coverage, and, possibly, to sell it through agents and brokers.
Anthem is a company that holds the Blue Cross license, the Blue Shield license, or both in 14 states. It also sells products other than traditional major medical coverage throughout the United States.
Here’s a look at three highlights from its earnings call and its earnings release, for agents.
What Your Peers Are Reading
1. Anthem executives sometimes use words like “agent” and “broker,” and they sometimes refer to wanting commercial health insurance business without apologizing for that.
Executives from one major competitor, UnitedHealth Group Inc., said during their company’s recent fourth-quarter earnings call that they see UnitedHealth as a company that uses data to improve the health care system.
Today’s conference call is the first Gail Boudreaux, Anthem’s new president, has participated in since she took over from Joseph Swedish as Anthem’s president. A securities analyst asked Boudreaux whether she wants Anthem to emulate competitors and move to a model that offers “a lot more than largely an insurance product.”
Boudreaux said she wants to see Anthem get faster and better at offering health insurance products, both to clients and to brokers.
Anthem will continue to compete hard for managed Medicaid plan contracts, and it will work with agents to improve its position in the group and individual Medicare Advantage markets, Boudreaux said.
On the commercial side, Boudreaux said, “I think there’s an opportunity for us to do more.”
2. Anthem says it wants to add to its commercial health insurance product menu.
Anthem has opportunities to use people’s familiarity with the Blue Cross and Blue Shield brands, and Anthem’s expertise with local markets, to design attractive new products, Boudreaux said.
3. Anthem wants to improve business-to-distributor technology, as well as business-to-consumer technology.
Anthem is revamping its portals for customers and care providers this year, and it’s also revamping its broker portals, Boudreaux said.