Health Insurance Carriers: Uncertainty Driving an Innovation Mandate

By: Jenna Greco Health Insurance, Revenue Growth Strategy, Sales Strategy, Sales Transformation

Co-author: Arshad Carim is a principal at the Alexander Group

Looming mergers, disruptive new entrants and growing public and private exchanges—these are the uncertainties that cloud the health insurance market today. In response, carriers look for opportunities to weather the storm and emerge stronger. Across the industry, successful carriers are improving operational efficiency to lower costs or investing in innovative products and services to drive profitable growth. Adoption of both approaches requires careful tuning and alignment of the marketing, sales and service strategy.

Improving operational efficiency

Streamlining the operating model allows carriers to more efficiently sell, implement and service employer groups. Identifying inefficiencies and opportunities to automate and redesign the process will reduce the time, energy, and ultimately, the cost required to serve customers. Carriers can take these operational savings and invest them back into the business to drive innovation or provide savings for members.

The Alexander Group (AGI) recently worked with a carrier to evaluate the sales and service process. AGI identified efficiency opportunities and improved ease of doing business with producers and customers. Early in the sales process, opportunities emerged to streamline how sellers review and select benefits and transition to underwriting for pricing. Further opportunities arose to simplify activities and automate workflow from point of sale to account setup and implementation. This improved speed and accuracy of account structure and implementation of benefits.

implementation-phases
While automating and simplifying workflows are core to gaining operational efficiencies, carriers also need supporting elements to maximize the effectiveness of new workflows, such as the following:

  • Redefine roles and responsibilities of sales and service resources to clearly define who is responsible for what activities and who to engage at each step of the process.
  • Size the sales and service organization to appropriately staff roles required to support the process.
  • Train and enable sales and service teams to educate on new processes and reinforce new accountabilities.
  • Track adoption and effectiveness of new processes through clearly defined metrics and success measures.

Developing innovative products and services

To drive profitable growth, carriers need to attract and retain customers with innovative products and services that get to the heart of employers’ most pressing issues–maintaining a healthy population and providing quality care at an affordable price.

Recent market trends challenge carriers’ traditional leading value propositions. New entrants in the marketplace and the consolidation of top carriers pressure remaining carriers. For example, IDNs entering the insurance marketplace challenge the local market value proposition many carriers rely on with their own local market and customer-focused value propositions. Consolidation at the top allows these carriers to gain scale and influence over providers, thus reducing the effectiveness of the price and coverage value proposition for the remaining carriers.

consolidation
Now more than ever, there is pressure to deliver value through differentiated products that closely align with customers’ needs. Carriers are investing considerable time in product innovation to understand these needs and develop and launch products that will give them a competitive edge. Innovations include more robust self-funded products, emphasis on non-core medical products such as ancillary and wellness, and ways to drive employee engagement.

Fueling this product innovation demands a strong partnership with sales to influence innovation and go-to-customer strategy execution. This includes the following imperatives:

Understand buyer profiles including the features and capabilities buyers want. Product, marketing and sales need to work together to identify products and services that meet buyer needs and value propositions that resonate.

Align marketing, sales and service motions to target the right buyers and design a sales process attuned to the buyer’s process.

Enable talent with training that goes beyond product features and supports sellers to become consultative advisors that can articulate value propositions aligned to buyer’s unique needs.

Compensate sellers with an incentive plan that rewards for focusing on innovative products and services core to organizational strategy.

Closing Thoughts

The health insurance landscape has one constant–change. Successful carriers of the future will evolve strategy, adapt and streamline their models, and innovate with new products and services ahead of the competition. Health insurance sales organizations that heed this innovation mandate will remain nimble and reinvent themselves, reaping the benefits through increased productivity and continued growth–likely at a faster pace than those who favor maintaining the status quo.

Contact us for a health insurance viewpoint briefing from one of our practice leaders.

Visit Alexander Group’s Health Insurance practice page for more information.

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Jenna Greco

Jenna Greco is a director in the Stamford office. She works with clients across multiple industries, including: media, technology, and life, health, property & casualty insurance. She is a leader in the Media and Health Care Services practices, where she builds and maintains client relationships, manages project work and develops intellectual property. Jenna’s experience includes sales model transformation, go-to-customer model redesign and implementation and global sales compensation framework development. Her most recent engagements include global sales compensation structure redesign and implementation to support the integration of two leading media organizations and sales and account management transformation that involved market segmentation, sales process and job design, sales compensation plan design and implementation.


Prior to joining the Alexander Group, Jenna spent five years at Travelers Insurance where she worked in product management, strategy development and customer experience. Jenna holds a B.S. in finance from Bryant University. She is also a Certified Sales Compensation Professional.


Arshad Carim

Arshad Carim is a principal in the San Francisco office, with over 20 years of business and consulting experience. Arshad leads the firm’s health care efforts in the Western region. He also leads consulting engagements and teams, manages key account relationships, drives business development activities and supports talent development. With experience across multiple industries including life sciences, medical device, high technology, and general B2B, Arshad leverages his cross-industry depth to create and implement high-impact solutions.


Prior to joining the Alexander Group, Arshad spent six years gaining experience in various marketing and sales management positions in the telecommunications industry. Arshad has directly managed a large regional wireless company’s local market sales force, providing leadership to a team of sales representatives. He managed major nationwide product launches and developed marketing plans for new feature releases. Arshad holds an MBA from the University of California, Berkeley Haas School of Business, a B.S. in marketing/management from the University of Pennsylvania Wharton School of Business, and a B.A.Sc. from the University of Pennsylvania School of Engineering and Applied Science.


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