Obamacare: Preparing for 50 Million New Customers

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Customer Strategy
Customer Experience
Under the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, all Americans are required to have healthcare insurance by 2014 or face financial penalties. What this means for healthcare insurers or "payers" as they're referred to is that somewhere between 30 million to 50 million people are expected to flood into the market seeking healthcare insurance directly from providers and the majority of these people haven't had health insurance before. Which begs the question: how prepared are payers to deal with these massive changes?

Under the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, all Americans are required to have healthcare insurance by 2014 or face financial penalties. What this means for healthcare insurers or "payers" as they're referred to is that somewhere between 30 million to 50 million people are expected to flood into the market seeking healthcare insurance directly from providers and the majority of these people haven't had health insurance before. Which begs the question: how prepared are payers to deal with these massive changes?According to Ingrid Lindberg, Chief Customer Experience Officer at Prime Therapeutics, the level of preparedness among payers is all over the map. Lindberg, who recently shared her insights on the topic in a 1to1 Media Take 30 webcast, says some payers claim to be ready to hit the ground running while others are waiting until 2015 to begin addressing these issues.

The law carries major customer experience considerations for payers. Payers have historically worked with employers to add or subtract new members. They really haven't had to market directly to consumers very much in the past or, for that matter, be terribly customer centric. It's similar to having been a customer of a power utility 20 or 30 years ago. You were locked in with a utility and they didn't have to go out of their way to provide you with exceptional service or experiences. You were a captive customer.

But that's beginning to change now for healthcare insurance. Over time, a growing percentage of consumers will be purchasing healthcare insurance directly from payers, including people who currently receive insurance through their employers but are interested in exploring other options. And while payers are required under the new law to offer healthcare insurance to anyone who applies for it - regardless of pre-existing medical conditions - they will offer customers tiers of coverage. This will range from basic coverage all the way up to premium care.

Because of these changes, competitive forces will require insurers to learn as much as they can about individual customers and prospects as they look to attract and retain the healthiest and most profitable customers. Insurers will also be looking to leverage customer and medical data to provide stronger incentives to consumers to adopt healthier lifestyles since healthier customers typically equate to more profitable customers.

To hear more from Lindberg about the top challenges and opportunities that payers are facing in this bold new market, click here.

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EXPERT OPINION