Category: Blog

3 InsurTech Trends Expected to Accelerate in 2019

By Sally Poblete, Founder and CEO of Wellthie

The excitement increasingly surrounding insurtech indicates that 2019 promises to be an even more meaningful and game-changing time for the insurtech space. Here are three insurtech trends you should keep an eye out for in 2019 and beyond.

This year was a breakout one for insurtech companies. The insurance industry has been long overdue for innovation and disruption, and 2018 saw the industry attracting both talent and funding. FT Partners Research announced InsurTech’s quarterly financing volume for Q3 2018 totaled $1.2 Billion, which is up from $749 Million in Q2 2018. The excitement increasingly surrounding insurtech indicates that 2019 promises to be an even more meaningful and game-changing time for the insurtech space. Here are three insurtech trends you should keep an eye out for in 2019 and beyond.

Sophisticated analytics
Any successful insurtech startup is not only passionate about transforming the current insurance model to be more cost-effective and automated, but is invested in exploring the role data analytics plays at the core of this process. Intelligent and productive data aggregation, integration and analysis, are crucial in achieving this.

When it comes to data analytics, the insurance industry’s antiquated business model has much room for improvement. Insurtech is modernizing insurance as we know it by implementing advanced big data analytics to optimize insurance products and services. And investors are taking notice. Significant investments are being made in data analytics and modeling techniques to improve nearly every part of the business. By embracing data analytics, your business can gain a competitive advantage by finding “new revenue opportunities, enhancing customer service, delivering more effective marketing, and improving operational efficiency.” Over time, this rise in digital innovation is sure to bring significant opportunities for a more efficient, competitive and sustainable progress for insurtech as a whole.

Transparency

The vast and complex insurance industry has long awaited simplification. Insurers’ underwriting models have historically been a black box for consumers, while easy comparisons of complex data have been reserved for the experts. Transparency is critical to earning the trust of customers, especially in this digital age. People are now accustomed to online shopping, and they want procuring insurance plans to be less complicated — similar to shopping for and purchasing other high ticket items such as homes and financial products. Consumers desire their pricing and product information to not only be transparent, but comparable as “apples to apples” so they can make smarter choices. Users can access online marketplaces to compare prices and benefits of different plans side-by-side.

Partnerships between carriers and innovators

There is a deepening need for laser-focused investments and partnerships between carriers and innovators as insurtech has now matured into an everyday business. Insurance executive and insurtech dealmaker, Stephen Goldstein argues that “the team is what is ultimately going to make an Insurtech initiative a success,” meaning that incumbents and insurance leaders executing partnerships with insurtech companies are part of the recipe that is going to provide a positive ROI and make insurtech thrive as an industry. While 2018 was a year of exploring and experimentation for insurtech, 2019 will be the year of engaging and deepening those relationships.

At the start of 2018, insurance professionals predicted that the number of partnerships and collaborations between carriers and innovators would only gather momentum over the next year. And in June 2018, The Digital Insurer reported that partnerships remained a priority where insurtech was concerned. Insurtech companies are actively enabling new technologies which are utilized to provide increased efficiency and the ability to execute new tasks and analyses. These technologies are changing the industry on a fundamental level, all the while causing more incumbents to adopt these capabilities through investments or partnerships to compete effectively. The possibilities alone suggest that there will be expected growth in partnerships throughout the end of 2018 and well into 2019.

Conclusion

2018 proved to be a massive year for insurtech, with a dramatic increase in funding from Q2 2018 to Q3 2018. There has been demand for skillfully acquired and implemented analytics, transparent experiences for consumers and mutually beneficial partnerships. All three trends are being successfully observed in 2018, and are believed to gather more momentum to lead us into 2019 and later.

Previously published here on www.benefitspro.com

Wellthie Recognized in Inaugural InsurTech 100 List of Tech Pioneers Transforming Global Insurance Industry

Leading Insurtech Company Included Among the World’s Most Innovative Providers of Digital Solutions Having A Lasting Impact on the Insurance Industry

NEW YORKOct. 16, 2018 /PRNewswire/ — Wellthie, a leading insurance technology provider offering the only national small group benefits marketplace that connects small business owners, insurance carriers, and brokers, announces that it has been included in the inaugural InsurTech 100 list of technology pioneers who are transforming the global insurance industry.

InsurTech (insurance technology) is one of the largest and most important sectors within the FinTech space. Over $7bn has been invested in InsurTech solution providers since 2015 as insurance and reinsurance firms as well as investors realize the huge impact new digital models are having on the industry. As incumbent financial institutions grapple with rapid innovation and digital transformation challenges, the InsurTech 100 was produced to identify the 100 innovative companies that every leader in the insurance industry needs to know about in 2019.

“We work hard every day to create a thriving ecosystem for small businesses, carriers, and brokers that is powered by great technology and human empathy,” said Sally Poblete, founder and CEO of Wellthie. “The Wellthie team is proud to be recognized on the InsurTech 100 list along with other global insurance innovators.”

The standout businesses were chosen by a panel of industry experts who reviewed an analysis of 637 InsurTech companies undertaken by FinTech Global, a data and research firm. Companies making the final cut were recognized for their innovative use of technology to solve a significant industry problem, or to generate cost savings or efficiency improvements across the insurance value chain.

A full list of the InsurTech 100 can be found at http://www.TheInsurTech100.com.

About Wellthie
Wellthie is helping to modernize the insurance shopping experience, offering the first and only national small group benefits marketplace designed to help small businesses find health insurance online, insurance carriers maximize product distribution, and brokers optimize small group sales. Wellthie’s enterprise-ready SaaS platform is available to small business, carriers, and brokers nationwide. Visit www.wellthie.com to learn more.

Interview with Wellthie advisor Jimmy Lee

Jimmy Lee
Wellthie Advisor, Jimmy Lee

In this interview, we sat down with Wellthie advisor Jimmy Lee to hear his thoughts on where the small group insurance market is heading. Jimmy is a dynamic healthcare visionary with extensive experience as a leader of several of Anthem’s multi-billion dollar divisions. He is currently a healthcare executive as CEO of SimpLee Healthcare, executive consultant with Sharecare, Advisory Boards of Wellthie and Solera Health, Board member and Treasurer of Easter Seals, and consultant for Pareto Intelligence and Leverage Health. Jimmy is the former President of the Small Group and Individual segments at Anthem, Inc, one of the nation’s largest health insurance companies.

What are the opportunities ahead for carriers to generate feasible growth in the small group market?

There is going to be a period of expanded options for small employers in terms of benefit offerings. Since ACA provisions went into effect in 2014, there have been strict regulations defining essential benefit offerings, community rating, rating relationships between metal products, elimination of industry and group size rating factors, and age rating restrictions. With those regulations loosening, we will see more variation in the types of plans available. For example, the recently announced rule to expand Association Health Plans may result in some lower rates on the market, though this will likely vary by state. There is also an opportunity for growth in ancillary offerings, wellness programs, and critical illness/accident coverage.

And obstacles?

Some states may be more restrictive than others in terms of how much variation they allow. However, carriers can offer both ACA-type plans and others as well. Short-term plans also present an obstacle because they can be extended to 12 months, which means we may see more individuals opting out of individual/small group ACA plans. Affordability is also a barrier because there are still small businesses who are unable to offer health plans due to costs. Carriers need to continue thinking about how to lower costs so that they can tap into small businesses who are not able to offer coverage today and thereby increase market size.

What should small group carriers be prioritizing in their growth strategy today?

Small group carriers need to be ready for the idea of increased choice. They should put additional investments into new product offerings, and from a sales and distribution standpoint will need to build new and different relationships. They should also be ready for more small groups choosing self-funded plans, an option that they have traditionally avoided. All of these changes will require a good actuarial understanding of the dynamics of the marketplace in order to arrange an effective product portfolio. Other considerations are the potential proliferation of Association Health Plans and MEWA benefit offerings.

How does the changing regulatory landscape affect small business insurance?

The current administration is not going to encourage or enhance the ACA; if anything, they will only try to dismantle it. However, they do want there to be more choice in terms of benefit offerings. From a broker standpoint, having more options to advise small businesses on will make them more valuable, since more choice will make it harder for small businesses to find the right solution. Business owners will need to rely on someone to give them advice, whether that’s a broker, consultant, navigator, or someone else.

What do you think will be the biggest disruptors in small group insurance in the next two years?

As providers are taking on more risk and different treatments and protocols are introduced, carriers are going to have to adapt in terms of where their value lies. Carriers need much deeper partnerships with providers in order to be successful in value-based models. We are seeing trends towards steerage of consumers to the most efficient providers and places of service based on cost and quality of care. Carriers are figuring out how to write medical policies so that members can get services in more convenient places and to push them towards the highest quality providers, all at the lowest possible costs.

Carriers also need to figure out how to engage members more effectively. They have been trying for years to get people to engage members by providing cost and quality transparency tools on their websites, but engagement is very low. They should be thinking about other ways to promote transparency and increase communication. We are also seeing more coordination of care, and Diabetes Prevention Programs (DPPs) are a prime example. DPPs are certified programs that work on behavior change to prevent people at high risk of developing diabetes. Finally, there is a heavy push towards addressing the social determinants of health. We know that income, housing, food insecurity, transportation, and many other social factors play a significant role in health outcomes. Carriers and providers that are able to target these determinants will best be able to lower costs and improve health outcomes.

What should a digital strategy look like for a carrier in health insurance?

Digital strategies can help carriers address some of the issues I just mentioned. Carriers should focus on developing mobile models that help steer people towards providers with the best results. They can also utilize technology to motivate people to engage in health-promoting behaviors, like getting a screening or exam or making lifestyle changes through involvement in a DPP. One big challenge for carriers is that members have many different engagement points, so those that can figure out how to manage all their care with one platform, integrate Electronic Medical Records with claims data, and identify gaps in care will be ahead of the market.

How is the relationship between InsurTech startups and incumbents evolving?

There is a definite possibility for these relationships to continue growing. InsurTech startups are identifying new ways to respond to issues quicker and cheaper than carriers do now, and these strategies can provide significant value to carriers. There is a specific opportunity around engagement tools that directly link providers and individuals to one another in large group plans. There are also opportunities in concierge tools, population health management, and risk adjustment that would be very useful to carriers.

How can carriers leverage data analytics in health insurance?

Carriers can leverage data analytics around managing existing members to identify the highest risk patients and take steps to improve their health. They should be digging deeper to understand what the gaps in care are for members and what they can do to prevent avoidable hospital visits. Carriers can also utilize data analytics to understand their members’ behaviors; for example, whether they are buying gym memberships or purchasing healthy foods, and prioritize which members to put their resources towards in terms of behavior change. Analytics can also help with benchmarking providers and understanding which ones have more or fewer gaps in care for members. Finally, insurers can use data analytics to gain more insights into how people make decisions about purchasing insurance.

How can carriers market better to millennial business owners?

Carriers first need to better understand millennial business owners as a business segment and figure out how they are different in terms of their needs and wants. For example, they may want more mobile services and personalized offerings than older customers. We also know Millennials are enthusiastic about dental benefits, even if they think they’re healthy enough to go without medical insurance. Once carriers identify these priorities, they should put in resources towards attracting and retaining Millennial consumers.

 

To learn how Wellthie can help carriers with these challenges, contact us today.

Wellthie Partners with Alliance Direct Benefits to Increase Access to Ancillary Benefits

Wellthie is thrilled to announce its partnership with Alliance Direct Benefits, a national provider of health, travel, and education benefits to businesses, families, and individuals, to offer Alliance’s most popular benefits through the new Wellthie Small Group Platform.

Brokers can now easily access and enroll small groups in the Alliance Value Plan — which consists of the Alliance’s seven most popular benefits — on Wellthie’s Small Group Benefits Marketplace.

The Alliance Value Plan combines seven top benefits into one affordable package that covers Members and their families from just $10/month. Benefits include:

  • 24/7 Doctor Access – 24/7/365 access to board-certified doctors via smartphone, web or phone,  with no consultation fees or co-pays
  • Emergency Roadside Assistance –  24-hour toll-free access anywhere in the U.S. and Canada
  • Global Emergency Assistance when traveling more than 100 miles from home including medical consultation, emergency medical evacuation and more.
  • Free and discounted legal services from a nationwide network of qualified attorneys
  • ID Theft Resolution Assistance – unlimited access to fraud specialists
  • Alliance Scholarship Program – over $2.6 Million awarded since 1996
  • Career Education Grant Program – assistance for 2-year trade or tech schools

Through Wellthie Small Group, brokers can multiply their market opportunity and drive long-term relationships, while supporting small businesses in increasing employees’ access to medical and ancillary coverage like the Alliance Value Plan.

The benefits offered by the Alliance Value Plan protect employees and their families for just $10 a month per family. The Alliance Value Plan is also used by businesses to provide seasonal and part-time employees with access to benefits, which increases retention and employee satisfaction.

“Alliance Membership is an ideal way for small groups to add high-value benefits for a low per employee per month cost.” said Todd Hyatt, General Counsel, Business Development at the Alliance. “And by partnering with Wellthie, it’s even easier than ever to connect brokers, employers and the Alliance Value Plan.”

To learn more about the Alliance Direct Benefits – Wellthie partnership or to sign up for access to Wellthie, please visit https://www.wellthie.com/alliance-direct/.

Empathy, Education, and Expertise

In the past open enrollments, I’ve written about tips, tricks, hacks, and stats about how people can make the best decisions in choosing their insurance.  This year, I’d like to focus on a personal story.

My phone rang last week, and the woman on the other line – audibly distraught and anxious – asked, “I’m looking for health insurance, can you help me?” I’m a licensed insurance broker, and although I don’t work with individual clients, I stayed on the phone to listen.  

She was a woman in her 40-50’s with numerous health issues. Her carrier decided to discontinue the individual plan she was on. She was worried she could no longer get insurance from the same carrier or any other carrier. She was distraught, confused, and concerned because she had medical issues, and her insurance company didn’t want to cover her anymore.  “I didn’t know where to turn, and I just want to speak to someone who understands.”

“Can they deny me because I had a lot of serious health issues?” No. “Are you sure?” Yes. “Double sure?” Yes! “What should I get?” Let’s talk about your doctors and hospitals – at least a Gold if possible. “Can I just call the plan if I know what I want?” Yes!

By listening, I allayed her fears, gained her trust, and improved her confidence in being able to find insurance that is right for her. I ultimately directed her to a licensed broker who could help complete the process.

This phone call reminded me that health insurance is a very personal matter, it goes to the core of a person’s health care security. She needed empathy in understanding the confusion and struggle of what felt like a rejection from the insurance carrier. She needed the expert guidance to help her understand the regulations are working in her favor and she CAN get coverage despite her mounting medical issues. She appreciated the education on her options and the assistance in making the best decision possible.

In my role now as the Founder and CEO of an innovative technology company in the insurance industry, this call was an important and deep affirmation of our purpose and mission. It is NOT to make the best technology for the insurance industry. It is ultimately to transform the experiences humans have in learning about, choosing, and using their insurance. Regardless of the customer segment – either business owners, HR execs, employees, young individuals, over-65 individuals, families – insurance is providing health and financial security for people. That mission requires us to first focus on the human emotions – the anxieties, fears, aspirations, relief, and joy related to their health and then design solutions with empathy (both digitally and with human expertise) to support people during this open enrollment season and year-round.  It is about empowering people to gain the confidence they need to navigate the system, but offer the support and guidance for those who seek it.  

Confused by Insurance Terminology? Look No Further

We’re in the midst of Open Enrollment, the period during which individuals and families can enroll, re-enroll, or change their health insurance plan for 2018. This year, Open Enrollment runs from November 1, 2017 to December 15, 2017.

Many Americans have already enrolled in 2018 coverage. However, for those who haven’t, there may be confusion. Should you select a high-deductible play or low-deductible plan? What’s the difference between a PPO, HMO, and EPO? To help guide you in your search, we’ve pulled together a list of the most useful terms to know when selecting a health insurance below.

Premium: The monthly cost of your health insurance plan. If you get an employer-sponsored insurance plan, the premium might come out of your paycheck.

Copay: This is the flat rate you’re charged for doctor visits and prescriptions. The rates vary according to the service, so having a general idea about what kinds of healthcare visits you will make might help assess these rates.

Deductible: The amount you have to pay for health services before your insurance plan starts to pay. Deductibles do not apply to monthly premiums or free preventative services such as checkups. If you are a relatively young and healthy person, you may prefer a plan that has lower premiums and higher deductibles, which means you will be paying less at a monthly basis but if you do require a health service you may have to cover a big amount of it.

Coinsurance: This is the percentage of costs you have to pay after you’ve met your deductible.

Out-of-pocket maximum: This is the most you would have to pay for health insurance in a given year for the services your plan covers. So once you hit that out-of-pocket maximum, your insurance company covers everything.

Cost-sharing: The share of costs covered by your insurance that you pay out of your own pocket. This term generally includes deductibles, coinsurance, and copayments, or similar charges, but it doesn’t include premiums, cost of non-network providers, or non-covered services.

Preferred Provider Organization(PPO):  A type of health insurance plan that has a broad list of participating providers and hospitals for which you pay less. In a PPO, you can also use out-of-network doctors at a higher cost.

Health Maintenance Organization (HMO): A type of health insurance plan that limits coverage to in-network doctors and the hospitals that work with those doctors. HMO’s typically won’t cover out-of-network care unless it’s an emergency and requires a referral from the primary care physician to see a specialist.

Exclusive Provider Organizations(EPO): A type of health insurance plan that allows individuals to use the doctors and hospitals within the EPO network, but won’t cover care that goes outside of the network. In EPOs, there are no out-of-network benefits or requirements to get a referral to see a specialist.

For additional health insurance terms you may not be familiar with, visit https://www.healthcare.gov/glossary/.

Wellthie Partners with The IHC Group

Wellthie is thrilled to announce we have partnered with Independence Holding Company (NYSE: IHC), one of the nation’s leading providers of ancillary benefits for employer groups and individuals. The partnership will allow producers who utilize Wellthie’s first-of-its-kind platform – Wellthie Small Group – to easily quote IHC’s group dental and medical products for their small group clients.

Wellthie’s comprehensive marketplace allows producers to shop multiple carriers for their small employer group clients who are looking for employer-based health insurance. Through the Wellthie-IHC partnership, producers can shop from among top medical carriers as well as a selection of IHC’s offerings. Wellthie’s platform enables producers to quote a combination of products with a single census and single proposal, with the ability to instantly model out various contribution strategies and easily enroll in IHC plans.

“The Wellthie business model is going to help busy producers in Ohio maximize their efficiency during open enrollment this year,” said Dave Keller, Chief Sales and Marketing Officer of IHC Specialty Benefits, “and we are excited to have IHC ancillary products as part of that equation.”

“We are thrilled to be entering into such an innovative distribution partnership with IHC. Together, we will provide producers with a modern and flexible technology that transforms the way they sell and offer more value to their small business customers – a win-win for both IHC, their producers and the small business owners,” said Sally Poblete, Founder and CEO of Wellthie.

Wellthie Selected as Top Insurtech Innovator in 2017 Plug and Play Program

Wellthie is pleased to announce that we have been selected by Plug and Play Tech Center to join their Insurtech Innovation Program. Wellthie is one of 35 companies chosen out of thousands to participate in Plug and Play’s program for start-ups innovating in the insurance industry.

Wellthie was selected by some of the industry’s leading carriers who seek to partner with startups and entrepreneurs that provide breakthrough technology and innovations for the insurance industry. Additional benefits of the program are licensing, investment, and mentorship opportunities.

“We are honored to have been chosen among the top insurtech companies to participate in the Plug and Play Insurance program,” said Sally Poblete, CEO of Wellthie. “Plug and Play provides a unique opportunity for selected start-ups to companies to partner with the largest carriers and industry players to accelerate the transformation of their industries.”

Earlier this year, Poblete was recognized in Forbes Magazine for her deep industry expertise the passion she brings to transforming the gigantic and complex insurance industry. Wellthie has also been featured in such publications as The Huffington Post, Inc. Magazine, and BuzzFeed.

The State of Small Group Benefits

As enrollment season nears the corner, brokers often wonder – what is this year’s market outlook for small group insurance? In September, the Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF) published a report focusing on the employer-sponsored insurance segment. Below are the facts you need to know about the small business market, as well as tips on how you can leverage this information to increase your competitiveness and sales as a small group broker.

The small business outlook is bright

Small business owners are optimistic about their financial positions and the economy as a whole. 81% of small business owners are comfortable with their current cash flow, while 41% of small businesses are more optimistic about the national economy now compared to last quarter.

The optimism within the small business segment is a significant opportunity. Small businesses that previously have not offered insurance to employees may be more willing to do so now and will require a broker to guide their decision. Of the nearly 6 million small businesses purchasing insurance for their employees, 80%  choose to rely on the expertise of a broker.  Why?  Because insurance is inherently complex and costly, requiring the empathy, education, and expertise of a broker.

Premium growth remains stable

In 2017, the average annual premiums for employer-sponsored health insurance are $6,690 for single coverage and $18,764 for family coverage. Compared to last year, the average single premium increased 4%, and the average family premium increased 3% – a relatively stable amount given that workers’ wages increased 2.3% and inflation increased 2.2% over the last year.

Stable premium growth is a great sign for brokers whose customers fear an increase in the cost of employee coverage. The stability in the employer market is an opportunity for brokers to start conversations with business owners on offering health benefits to their employees. It is up to brokers to educate small business owners on the value of coverage and to assist employers in finding the best value option, a massive opportunity to grow your book of business.

Ancillary sales are a big sales opportunity

Among large firms, 97% offer dental benefits and 82% offer vision benefits. For small business, this number is dramatically lower, with 67% offering dental benefits and 47% offering vision benefits. While overall coverage rates for small businesses is at 62%, ancillary benefits are still a large need – and opportunity – for brokers and small businesses alike.

Ancillary (or supplemental) insurance offers an opportunity for brokers to fill coverage gaps left by health plans. Moreover, ancillary benefits like dental, vision, disability, accident, and life usually have lower premiums and are a great way for small businesses to make their employees happy. Selling ancillary benefits also provides brokers an opportunity to upsell to those that do offer medical coverage.

 

Announcing Wellthie Small Group: Broker Platform for Medical + Ancillary Sales

We are thrilled to announce that we have launched Wellthie Small Group, the first-of-its-kind platform to bring a comprehensive Small Group benefits marketplace together with dynamic sales optimization tools to empower top-performing brokers and agents nationwide. Responding to national demand, we have expanded our shopping, quoting, and enrollment platform to new markets and additional lines of coverage, including medical and top ancillary products like dental, vision, and value-added products.

At Wellthie, we are addressing the needs of the nearly 6 million small businesses purchasing insurance for their employees, 80% of which rely on the expertise of a broker. Today, benefits brokers are burdened by disconnected systems, outdated tools, manual and paper-based processes, and complex regulations that reduce the amount of time brokers can spend generating new sales and focusing on client strategy.

With Wellthie’s platform, brokers can multiply their market opportunity and drive long-term relationships, while increasing employees’ access to insurance. Wellthie Small Group enables forward-thinking brokers and agents to transform the sales and service process for small business employers and their employees. With expanded features – including a dynamic live quoting system – the platform delivers the power and flexibility to offer more coverage, while simplifying the broker’s workflow so brokers generate more sales, streamline insurance decisions for clients, and tout their benefits expertise.

In addition to live quoting from top medical and ancillary carriers, Wellthie Small Group – expanding to new markets nationally for medical and introducing new ancillary lines – includes real-time contribution modeling, custom proposal generation, integrated broker CRM, enrollment support, and analytics.

Our focus on innovative distribution has attracted the nation’s top medical and ancillary carriers. With the ability to support medical and ancillary plans in a single marketplace, while also being broker-friendly, carriers are partnering with Wellthie to grow small group membership across multiple product lines and channels.

“The needs and expectations of small businesses when shopping for insurance and selecting benefits increasingly focus not just on value, but also ease and convenience,” said Sally Poblete, CEO, Wellthie. “As the only platform with comprehensive medical and ancillary shopping combined with the simplicity and versatility of powerful sales tools, we maximize sales for forward-thinking brokers and leading carriers in the small business market.

 

You can also view Wellthie’s press release here: http://www.prweb.com/releases/2017/09/prweb14707220.htm