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A few weeks ago one of our own, Paula,  attended Businessolver’s Vision 2015 in San Diego.  She has provided a quick recap and some of her thoughts on the seminar from keynote speaker Maria Ferrante-Schepis.

First, a few quick stats from Businessolver:

  • 73% of employees do not understand ACA because it’s “too complicated to understand”
  • The average enrollment takes 19 minutes
  • The average cost for employee benefits is $4,000/annually for the employee and $19,000/annually for the employer
  • The need for Decision Support, or as Businessolver calls it, Recommendation Engines, is driven by:
    • Confusion in purchasing plans by 86% of the population
    • 38% are not confident they are making the right choice
    • 42% do not use what they purchase effectively

The Keynote Speaker was Maria Ferrante-Schepis, and she knows how to engage a room with her passion for insurance.  She has a book out there, “Flirting with the Uninterested”, which became a top seller for Insurance on Amazon.

Insurance is an important construct of our society.  Maria is of the opinion we need to talk about insurance in new ways.  There’s so much distrust surrounding insurance; our job is to help close the gap between the industry’s intentions and the consumer perceptions.  She states innovation will drive the change in perception, and innovation itself is an important competency in all industries.  The essential need of business today, facing unprecedented change, is to reimagine business.  We see this in our space and it is still surprising how many of our vendors are moving along as if nothing big is underfoot.  We see this in the resellers setting up shop in Costco and Walgreens – there are those out there attempting to change how health insurance is purchased.

Innovation is the intersection of:

  1. Insight
  2. Idea
  3. Experience

If someone only holds two of these they are inventing, not innovating.  Survival will be dictated by the ability to innovate and do something different to make the business/product offering stand out.  The weakest link for innovation is insight; this is where data analytics are playing a bigger role by the day.  Status quo is going to be fatal.

Maria referenced what she calls a Napster Moment – “When someone who has no business being in your business reinvents your business (and puts you out of business).”  Another great quote from the day was, “You can’t read the label sitting inside the jar!”  This is what is generally behind creative disruption, one certainly hopes.

The market is shifting to a need for authenticity because insurance has a negative emotion/experience.  It is only purchased for when bad things happen, so no one wants to think about it.  If you get in an accident and don’t have insurance, you’ll go broke.  If you don’t have health insurance, you will pay extra taxes. The list goes on.

To gain authenticity (that “you’ll know it when you see it” authenticity), several key components are needed.  Insurance has a reputation of distrust and we are largely associated with this group as brokers.  In reality, we are just innocent nerds attempting to connect people with their benefits, yet we are still considered part of the “gang” at times.  There are six steps to building authenticity, which I think we can use to look for in the vendors we work alongside with:

  • Be Easy to Understand – use simple, everyday language
  • Be Down to Earth – real, human, and approachable
  • Be Memorable – interesting and refreshing
  • Be Positive – warm and comforting
  • Be Credible – trustworthy and unbiased, have the employee/employer’s best interest in mind
  • Be Relevant – understand and know me, speak to me

The opposite of these – and something we see all too frequently – is confusion, impracticality, negative experiences, unreliability, irrelevance, and many vendors are just plain forgettable.

Just as we struggle with making technology fun, those on the insurance side are working to make it sexy.   Maria advocates cleaning up the symptoms which impede relevance in the insurance industry:

  1. Out-dated communication models
  2. A face-to-face requirement to enroll
  3. The commission model
  4. Need for human intervention
  5. Invasiveness
  6. Traditional levers and risks
  7. Insurance Companies themselves

Across the country people are working to separate the symptoms from the real problem of relevance.  Education is going to be key. There’s a drive to make people understand how insurance is a sharing model. Maria showed a video that asserts, with insurance, we can move to a Collaborative Consumption, and this is happening with some crowd-sourcing sites specific to covering health costs.  I was not aware of the Medical-Sharing Ministries out there who are, at the moment, exempt from ACA.  She even showed a site in Germany where people could pool money for healthcare costs, a set premium per individual.  When someone needs to use the funds all members have to vote to determine if the money should be released.  I think there are going to be some crazy, innovative options coming out in the next couple of years.  Some will be laughable, and some may just gain traction and surprise us all.

Now I’m not advocating for my health costs to be part of any Kickstarter Campaign; however, the tides are shifting due to the ever changing regulations and evolving millennial workforce.  There is a smart rat out there who is going to make insurance fun somehow.  I, for one, am interested in seeing how they do it and I will bet on few things, it will be online, it will be slick, it will rely on technology, and we will get to play in the space.