The Affordable Care Act completely changed the employee benefits landscape in the U.S., but the pace of change is only expected to increase over the next 10 years. A national study conducted by Aflac looks ahead at where the health care industry is expected to be in 2025 and the emerging trends benefit brokers need to act on today to succeed. Specifically, the findings:
- Predict a purchasing process that puts the next generation consumer in more control.
- Detail aspects of a redefined set of responsibilities for the employer in the benefits decision-making process.
- Highlight the influence innovative technologies may have on health care services and delivery.
As the landscape continues to move due to shifting workforce demographics and rising health care costs, the industry will see convenience, speed and transparency fuel consumer expectations.
The next-generation consumer expects a retail-like experience, even when buying insurance
In an age of increasing electronic communication and devotion to social media, the next generation of health care consumers will become conditioned to do their own research about companies, products and services. The Healthcare 2025 study found that more than half (51 percent) of consumers already expect online tools that provide health care treatment options and costs, and 46 percent expect to see doctor, hospital, nursing home and other types of provider ratings online.1 These consumers, known as Gen Z, have higher expectations and demand transparency like no other generation before them. Since they are taking on more cost and responsibility for their health and financial wellness, statistics predict that they will force the health care industry to innovate and stay on par with the digitally driven customer service experiences they have with other industries like retail.
The relationship between employers and employees will be redefined, with employers expected to inspire confidence and trust from employees
As consumers take the reins and more employers move to defined contribution plans, the future employer will need to demonstrate improved support for employees’ benefits decision-making, including providing more information, customization, ease of use and simplicity of the process. The Healthcare 2025 study found that less than half (46 percent) of workers have complete confidence in the decisions they made during their last open enrollment for benefits, and only 23 percent of employees strongly agree that they trust the information and decision-making tools their employer provides during their health insurance enrollment process. An employee’s perception of their employer is tied to their satisfaction with benefits, which means in the future, attracting and retaining good employees may depend on the level of support a company provides them in managing their health and wealth.
Technology innovations will enable more personalization and convenience
Wellness and prevention are expected to become more personalized, with real-time data transforming the preventive health care market, according to the Healthcare 2025 study. Advancements in diagnostic technologies, such as ingestible smart pill technologies, will likely inform patients and their doctors of risk factors, and possibly provide a blueprint for a personalized health care action plan and the mix of core medical and voluntary coverages that best complement it. According to the study, nearly one-third of employers agree that wearables will be linked to physicians’ offices so that the physician can determine care issues and treat remotely. It’s also possible that real-time sensor data could be used to provide health risk predictive modeling to help clients develop health plans.
Changes in the health care industry are inevitable, but broker partners and insurance companies are anticipating and strategically preparing for it. Millennials’ and Gen Zers’ dominance in the workplace in 2025 will shape the way benefits advisors compile portfolios in the next 10 years, and it’s the job of health insurance providers to create compelling customer experiences that bolster satisfaction, trust and brand loyalty to help give advisors a competitive advantage.
 Aflac. “Healthcare 2025” study. Conducted by Research Now on behalf of Aflac and fielded online in the United States between July 23 and July 28, 2015, capturing responses from 1,024 employers and 2,047 consumers. Learn more at aflac.com/roadmap2025.
This article is for informational purposes only and is not intended to be a solicitation.