I came across three seemingly unrelated things this week that I postulate, when looked at together, speak to a sign of change in healthcare.
The first of my observations (which is not new news) is Warren Buffet’s response to travel insurance. AirCare is incredibly easy to purchase and understand. You pay $25 and if your flight is delayed more than two hours, you get $50. If you miss a connection due to a flight delay, you get $250. And for “tarmac” delays more than two hours, you get $1,000. And it will rebook you, as necessary, and keep you posted with mobile messaging. It is simple and makes air travel annoyances more palatable.
The second was the news that WellPoint announced that it had lost 300,000 members in small business insurance products. One might surmise that at least some of these small business owners are opting to drop group coverage and direct their employees to ACA insurance exchanges.
And the third was the news of bswift’s acquisition by Aetna. There has already been editorializing on why that purchase occurred now but according to Mark Bertolini, the acquisition is part of a broader strategy to put tools in the hands of consumers as Aetna moves towards a more consumer-centric health system.
Here is the connection: More individuals shopping for insurance on their own, without the guidance of their employers. The insurance marketplace is evolving so that products and benefits have the same simplicity as AirCare. People have expectations that are shaped by their experience with companies like AirCare. And those expectations will pervade their approach to health and they’ll expect to pick and chose among bundles of products and services that are easy to understand. They may select brand-name-only pharmacy plans independent from an HDHP. People will evaluate their risks (weigh their odds) and hedge their bets, perhaps purchasing accident insurance. And the entire experience – from purchase to ongoing management and support – is done on your mobile device. Easy. Done and done.