Technology has changed the way we’ve done many things over thelast 10 years. The way we listen to music, get news, communicatewith each other, pay bills and even make “friends” have all seendramatic transformations. So it should come as no surprise the waywe buy health insurance is changing as well. Americans buying theirown insurance already have been taking advantage of the new toolsand shopping platforms technology has enabled but soon, the way webuy insurance will experience a revolution that will affect mostAmericans. In addition to new innovations and inevitable marketforces, government legislation also will be a major catalyst thatwill usher in these changes.

To understand the future, we need a quick primer on today’ssystem. The majority of Americans get their insurance through theiremployer. The employer owns the policy and decides on the carrier,the plan design and how much of the premium will be required fromthe employee if they want to participate. Theseemployer-sponsored plans have been dropping in popularity andparticipation for the last 10 years.

This market shift has been driven by five major factors:

  1. The higher costs of employer-sponsoredplans—this is driven by the higher requirements of theplans thanks to state and federal mandates as well as the migrationof the healthier population to the individual market andunderwritten health plans.
  2. Desire to choose—choice of carrier, plandesign, and premium differential helps individuals and families getthe most for their money.
  3. No portability of coverage—when theemployer-based model began, most people went to work for a companyand stayed there their whole career. Now, the average Americanchanges jobs more than 11 times in their lifetime. In addition,less than half of small businesses even offer employer-sponsoredcoverage anymore.
  4. Technology and innovation that make it easyand affordable to buy your own coverage.
  5. Defined-contribution cafeteria plan platformsthat allow employees to buy personal health insurance plans taxfree—putting it on a level, tax-exempt status playing field asemployer-sponsored health plans.

Now let’s take a look at the present and the future. One of thecritical factors that will shape the health insurance market overthe next 10 years will be the action taken by the government.

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