The healthcare insurance industry is going through rapid change with technology bringing opportunities for better customer experiences across every aspect of the service. But what do people really want from their healthcare insurance provider? How can businesses help their customers live happier, healthier lives, creating loyalty while also balancing the books? Here are seven areas of focus for the future. 

Empowering customers through education

Last year a US study by Bend Financial found that 56% of respondents in the US felt ‘completely lost’ in trying to understand their healthcare insurance. A 2022 study found that 62% of people who get their health insurance with their job said they only have a basic understanding of their options and benefits.

Even high-scoring providers like BUPA pick up bad reviews from customers who didn’t realise that they weren’t covered for accidents or chronic conditions and feel that they have been treated unfairly. It’s clear that healthcare insurers need to dedicate more resources to education. Online talks for employees supported and encouraged by the employer, ’ask me anything’ sessions and easily accessible live chats with experts could all play a part in giving health insurance customers a better understanding of their cover. 

Getting the basics right

With healthcare insurance people expect faster, more efficient care than public healthcare can offer. What they don’t expect is four-week response times, documents sent by physical mail, having to repeat the same information, contradictory advice on claims, and hours spent on hold. These issues come up time and time again in online reviews.

Today’s customers expect the seamless experiences they enjoy in other digitally-enabled ares of their lives. They want to be able to switch channels and continue the same conversation and for communication to be faultless. To become truly customer-centric, established insurers need to transform outdated and fragmented back-end systems. They need to put in place a transformation programme that looks at every aspect of their operation, building services around the customer.

Creating digital experiences that still feel human

Customers want simple, intuitive interfaces that allow them to achieve their goals quickly and easily. Younger audiences in particular want to be able to self-serve using digital channels to book appointments, get answers to basic questions and manage their payments, but they also want to know that when they have more complex queries they can speak to a human easily. 

In fact whether human interaction or automated service, maintaining ‘the human touch’ is absolutely crucial. It’s that feeling of empathy and humanity that creates trust and loyalty. Healthcare providers need to pay careful attention to language and understand that tone is crucially important, especially during sensitive moments along the claims process. 

Predicting and preventing illness

Diverse healthcare audiences have one thing in common: everyone wants to avoid serious illness. Prediction and prevention is going to become key to all successful health insurance businesses, mitigating the increasing costs of healthcare across the world’s ageing population. 

Home testing kits, wearable tech for common issues like diabetes, and activity trackers are already being used in conjunction with advanced data analysis to deliver better health outcomes, flagging potential problems before they become serious or even life-threatening. However a 2021 study shows that only 18% of health insurers globally are providing wearable tech to manage wellbeing. As wearable tech becomes more common, customers will come to expect it and may end up switching providers if they aren’t satisfied with their experiences. 

Incentivising a healthy lifestyle 

Healthier customers means happier customers and lower costs for the insurers. In the US, Oscar Health rewards its customers with Amazon gift cards, measuring activity with a FitbIt. Vitality in the UK goes much further, with an innovative approach grounded in behavioural science and enabled by IoT and big data. It rewards positive behaviours, from gym sessions to taking up recommended health checks, with lower premiums and points to spend on cinema tickets, nutritious food, coffee, Amazon Prime and more.

It’s an innovative approach, but one that requires careful thought to get the balance right between monitoring and rewards. People will choose insurers who offer simple, seamless experiences that make them feel good about themselves – not those who make them feel judged for having a slice of cake or spending the evening on the sofa. 

Delivering better outcomes through personalisation

Consumers, especially younger digital-native audiences, expect personalised experiences in all aspects of their lives. Meeting these expectations is going to be crucial for healthcare insurers in order to stay ahead of their competitors. 

It’s not only about building engagement with responses that take into account an individual’s personality, pattern of behaviour and emotional state. Personalised detection, analysis, treatment and care can drastically improve healthcare outcomes. It’s going to cause a revolution in healthcare over the next decade and customer expectations are likely to rise ever higher as it  becomes more mainstream. 

Focusing on mental health

In the US the Mental Health Parity Act requires insurers to ensure that any limits on mental health benefits are no lower than those for medical and surgical benefits. But disparities still exist and in the rest of the world, including Asia, the Middle East and the UK, mental health issues are still not adequately covered.

One report by PwC in the Middle East found that nearly $3.5 billion was lost in the GCC every year due to a lack of access to mental health care services. As recognition of the impact of poor mental health increases across the world, customers will demand better treatment. Insurance providers need to put more resources into better serving their customers in the future and supporting them through mental health issues that can be every bit as damaging as physical ones. 

Better customer experiences means better results

As the healthcare insurance industry undergoes transforms there are myriad opportunities across all aspects of service and treatment to deliver the exceptional customer experiences that create loyalty. 

By focusing on better healthcare outcomes, transforming fragmented back-end systems and fully digitising processes while retaining the ‘human’ touch, insurers can not only become more efficient and profitable. They can also become a trusted partner perhaps for a lifetime, helping their customers live healthier lives through best-in-class care.