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October 2008 return to the table of contents

Healthcare Insurance Options Growing, Placing More Demands On Providers, Agents To Offer Solutions, Education, Financial Advice

As options for consumer directed healthcare grow, companies and individuals are increasingly turning to agent/brokers for advice and suggestions.

At the same time, more agent/brokers are recommending these healthcare benefit options to their clients.

However, many agent/brokers are not providing the support needed to make them truly effective for companies, employees and individuals.

Over the past four years, Information Strategies, Inc., (ISI) has been surveying agent/brokers on the mix of product offerings.

Three trends emerge this year:

  • CDH products are increasingly becoming the norm in terms of initial and final options offered.
  • Client educational needs are growing and with them an expanding role for the agent/broker in the adoption process.
  • The internet is playing an increasing role in the choice of agent/broker and how they service their clients.

ISI, this newsletter’s parent, polled more than 500 agents in the summer and fall on their changing role in the healthcare insurance purchasing process,

  • 23% said they found it harder to provide all of the information clients requested.
  • 55% said they had offered a CDH option in their first proposals to clients.
  • 71% said client demands in terms of education and advising employees were up from 2007.
  • 62% said their total commissions from healthcare insurance premiums were down from 2007.

There is demand for the three major CDH offerings, Health Reimbursement Accounts, (HRAs), Flex Spending Accounts (FSAs) and Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) going into the October-December enrollment period. The addition of Wellness programs are also popular among Employers in order to fully leverage CDH programs, help their employess with their goals and reduce absenteeism and increase productivity in the workforce.

However, as TJ Ryan, president of ISU Group, with offices coast to coast, reports based on input from more than 300 brokers:

  • Employer demand for low premium health plans and Health Savings Accounts (HSA) is exceptionally strong.
  • Health insurance brokers are reluctant to promote the low premium high deductible health plans (HDHP)
  • There is little to no advice given by the brokers to the employer nor the employees about the Health Savings Account attributes

“We believe that the agent/brokers who provide answers and support for these needs will be long-term winners because giving the customer what he or she wants is the best way of growing. Historically financial services professionals would help to create the wealth and insurance brokers would protect the financial assets.  Now the industries are converging. 

These businesses that will meet the consumer demands need to all of it.  ISU provides One Responsible Source™ for the consumer for the protection and creation of wealth and the promotion of health. Consumers are looking for that trusted source for all their financial services needs.  One company that can assist with insurance services and healthcare financial management and navigating consumer driven healthcare.” he added.

One new trend that is surfacing revolves around what are the purchasing decision criteria for a healthcare insurance plan.

Because many individuals and employees view CDH plans as more of a financial decision rather than an insurance benefit, there is a new breed of agent/brokers who look at the total financial picture of their clients.

As a result, there is a convergence between financial institutions, healthcare and insurance industries and wellness providers creating a $40B industry.

One company formed to be a significant player in this arena is ISU Financial Services, an ISU Group company. It’s president, Kaye Chavalas, is driving her company to provide Health Savings Accounts and sophisticated healthcare management including an integrated Health Savings Account and Health Investment Account, Wellness programs and Financial Planning for CDH.

“ISU uniquely addresses the needs of the convergence of the insurance and financial services industries for all your Insurance, Consumer Driven Healthcare and Wellness needs. Individuals, employers, financial institutions, insurance brokers and third party administrators benefit from our products and services, Kaye Chavalas said. Her company has a complete solution; everything you need to manage and administer Health Savings Accounts,”

  • Health Savings Account Management and Administration
  • Health Savings Account and Health Investment Account integration
  • Streamlined contribution processing and management for Employers and Employees
  • HSA Transactions Management
  • HSA Debit Card
  • Online Payments
  • Medical Expense Manager
  • Support for all Reimbursement Types
  • Consolidated statement and Reporting
  • A knowledgeable HSA Customer Service Center that provides consistent and accurate answers.

For more information about ISU products and services go to: www.isugroup.com, 1-800-782-9400.

 

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