Every day we hear from health insurance professionals about the challenges they're facing in 2014. At the forefront of these challenges is health care reform. But, it's more than that. It's the shifting health insurance market, new technologies, new product developments, and keeping up with the competition.
Here's our list of the top five (5) challenges facing health insurance professionals, and ideas on overcoming these challenges to grow your business in 2014.
1. Health Care Reform
Health care reform (aka the Affordable Care Act, PPACA, ObamaCare), ranks as the number one challenge for many health insurance professionals. At the core of this challenge is uncertainty about the role of producers and understanding all of the shifting deadlines and requirements.
How can you overcome this challenge? Understand health care reform, educate and service clients, and recommend products to help your clients in this new market. This may include shifting into a "consultant" role in addition to policy sales.
2. Balancing Sales vs. Relationships
The pressure to sell and the pressure to develop long-term client relationships is another big challenge we hear from health insurance professionals.
How can you overcome this challenge? Successful agents and brokers balance short term production goals with long-term business development activities to meet sales expectations today, and grow the business into the future.
3. Lack of Demand
There's no doubt the market is shifting and this can be frustrating. Businesses aren't buying the same products in the same way. At the same time, new markets are opening up.
For example, while more small and medium sized employers are terminating group health insurance to send employees to the individual market, many are not dropping health benefits altogether. Rather, they are using defined contribution health plans to reimburse for individual health insurance. Brokers can thrive off of this shift by dusting off their individual policy lines, and partnering with a defined contribution software provider to offer this solution.
The trend toward defined contribution also opens up a huge market for health insurance professionals: small businesses who could not afford health insurance in the past. There are over 2.3 million U.S. small businesses in this situation and are adopting new products such as defined contribution.
How can you overcome this challenge? Successful agents and brokers are taking advantage of these opportunities, and selling the right solutions to the right prospects.
4. Technology is Replacing Health Insurance Professionals
In the past, prospects would reach out to sales professionals as they were researching options and learning. Now, prospects have usually done extensive research online before you even speak to them. Some health insurance professionals fear technology is replacing them.
This challenge is... challenging. The internet is here to stay, and companies of all sizes are using internet and technologies to improve benefits and increase efficiency. On top of this, major carriers, major online private exchanges, and the public exchanges are utilizing the internet to reach consumers directly.
How can you overcome this challenge? Despite information at their fingertips, and new direct-to-consumer models, businesses still need personal advisors.
See our reasons for why health insurance professionals become even more important in 2014.
5. Keeping Up With Diverse Communication and Marketing Channels
Similar to #4, it can be hard to get your message out there in a saturated market. Local producers are competing for marketing space with large carriers, paid advertising, savvy SEO, and a sea of competition.
How can you overcome this challenge? The most successful agents and brokers are overcoming this challenge by using social media, e-newsletters, word-of-mouth campaigns, and other creative forms of content to strengthen their efforts. They are also carving out a niche for themselves to set them apart from the competition.
What challenges are you facing as a health insurance professional? What are you doing to overcome them? Join the discussion below.