Health data analysis is essential if advisers are to distinguish themselves from the crowd says Steve Cottle, head of global partnerships, vielife
Insurance intermediaries are split down the middle in their attitudes to provision of health and wellbeing programmes for clients, as well as the value of data gathered as a result. While most intermediaries are investigating the potential of offering health risk assessments (HRAs) as part of their package, the court is out on whether these should be a critical integrated element, or at best, a nice to have. I believe that the more integrated and rich the health and wellbeing data an intermediary can glean from its clients, the greater the benefit is for all. The right HRA can offer tangible benefits for the intermediary’s own business, its clients business and its clients’ employees personally. Health and wellbeing data offers a win-win opportunity for all and there are three main benefits to consider.
The first of these benefits is the improved use of benefits packages by clients. A major business success factor for intermediaries is ensuring that its products receive optimal use by its client’s employees and deliver real benefit to them. Evidence, to signpost people to relevant benefits, is essential. Offering irrelevant benefits or leaving employees to make self-motivated choices can lead to poor take-up and lower perceived satisfaction. In turn this could result in benefits packages being discontinued by the client.
Integrating health risk assessments into the benefits package system allows employees to be signposted to the correct benefits based on the health status and motivations highlighted through their HRA. This can result in far higher benefit utilisation and satisfaction, increasing the client’s perceived value of the services provided by the intermediary. For example employees presenting high stress levels or poor sleep through their HRA could benefit from an Employee Assistance Programme (EAP). An integrated HRA could signpost these employees directly to the EAP services in real time when the issue is current and pertinent to them. Real time integration of health and benefits data is vital for this first benefit to be achieved. However more strategic analysis of HRA data drives additional long term business improvements for the intermediary. The first of these two strategic data analysis outcomes is using evidence to highlight product cross selling opportunities through a more evidence based relationship with the client. Over time, broad analysis of health trends and their implications within a client business can tell the intermediary what additional products and services might be most relevant to that organisation. Health data helps the intermediary build a strategic and consultative relationship with the client and it can utilise this informed position to build loyalty and also advise the organisation on the right package for its future needs. This can lead to new sales opportunities, for example for group life insurance or income protection products.
The second of the strategic benefits of health data analysis is perhaps the most tangible of all, because the intermediary has the opportunity to add vital competitive edge, not only on the quality of its products and services but on the cost of them too. Providing health and wellbeing programmes as part of their service can, in the long term, give the intermediary greater bargaining power on health premiums on its client’s behalf. Firstly the HRA can demonstrate how employees have worked to improve their health, evidenced through the HRA’s scoring system. In doing so, they have reduced the risk and likelihood of making medical insurance claims which increase premiums. Secondly, if as a result of an effective health and wellbeing programme, a client reduced sickness absence levels amongst its employees, the intermediary has further evidence to drive down premiums, potentially by as much as 10-20 per cent. This is a key competitive factor that can give the intermediary a clear differentiator in the market.
Intermediaries realise they need to provide health benefits and information to distinguish themselves in the market. The challenge is that some players have not yet realised that their objectives should be far more than a tick in the box to their clients. If implemented correctly and strategically, integrated health data and analysis has the potential to create a brighter future for health intermediaries in terms of competitiveness and performance.