The Impact of Healthcare Reform on Health Insurers and Employers
Any stakeholder in the healthcare industry is sure to be closely monitoring the discussions related to Healthcare Reform. The controversial issues at hand include co-ops versus a public plan, the millionaires’ tax and business penalties, and every congress person and journalist seems to have a different opinion on what has a chance of being included in the bill. Yes, there will be active speculation until the bill is finally passed; but whichever way the wind blows, employer-sponsored plans will undoubtedly be affected.
Although the latest word from Obama that employers will be able to keep their existing coverage is reassuring, it’s highly likely that some disruption will occur. There may be regulatory changes in store for insurance companies, as well as regulations requiring employers to provide health benefits as part of their benefit programs. If employer groups are faced with this imposed expense, it could mean closer evaluations of plans for both benefits and cost. Employers will choose the insurer that provides products that both appeal to employees and fit within their budgetary constraints – which will be tighter than ever.
Healthcare insurers need to be as innovative as they can to meet the requirements of individual customers and still keep products affordable. Moreover, they need to be able to keep pace with the market and quickly turnaround benefit package proposals that are easy to read and speak to the employer. Innovation in offerings becomes moot unless the value of a product is clearly and quickly communicated to the market. Communication between carriers and agents will become more important than ever – as will marketing, communication and customer service.