Enrollment season is fast approaching, and shopping for insurance – especially for the first time – is overwhelming. That’s why individuals, families and businesses turn to brokers for help — the industry experts who are the front-line access point for understanding, purchasing and using health insurance.
Unfortunately, brokers are burdened by outdated technology, manual processes and complex new regulations that make the process of helping small businesses and individuals inefficient and impersonal.
The digital revolution in all other things e-commerce allows products and services to go directly to the consumer at the click of a button. How can brokers adapt to the increasing complexity of the business, attract more customers and grow their businesses?
These growing pains can be met with technology. But this can only happen as long as the end user is kept in mind, and the tech giants and startups that have flooded into the insurtech space to streamline and simplify the shopping and enrollment process have forgotten an important end user: the broker.
The way we see it at Wellthie is that the health insurance broker business remains strong, and, for those who have embraced change and technology, it is only getting stronger. Individuals and small businesses aren’t just looking for answers at their fingertips, they are looking for service: a process that is transparent, trustworthy and efficient. However, unlike traditional goods and services, health insurance requires the skillful assistance of an expert. This indicates that unlike industries that have seen a decline in the use of brokers, such as the travel industry, the health insurance broker is an invaluable piece of the complex health care puzzle. Here’s why:
- Small businesses are the most reliant on brokers and spend a huge sum on health insurance. There are currently more than 5 million small businesses in the U.S., representing 90% of all U.S. enterprises and a total of 40 million employees. A small business with 10 employees would have to pay on average $50,000 per year for coverage, assuming 70% contribution. This is a large sum, and businesses will want to make sure they are spending their dollars wisely. This is why 74% of small businesses today rely on hundreds of thousands of licensed health insurance brokers.
- Regulation and compliance is a big deal. ACA, ERISA, HIPAA are just some of the acronyms of the complex body of regulations that govern what small businesses and individuals must keep in mind when offering coverage. These regulations continue to change and have many state-based nuances that require brokers in a given market who can navigate the waters.
- The products are complicated. Health insurance selection is a multivariable decision with many considerations and stakeholders. According to a Harris Poll survey, nearly three out of every four 18- to 34 year-olds said they are often confused about all the benefit options available to them. Although technology can make great strides at improving the process, buyers want to make sure that they didn’t make a mistake. Sellers also rely on brokers to ensure that the buyers follow the appropriate guidelines and underwriting rules of who can and cannot purchase benefits.
In health insurance, where the role of the broker is essential, technology provides the access point to improve the process for buyers, sellers and intermediaries. Brokers of the future who embrace technology will make health insurance more approachable and valued.