I was recently a panelist at LIMRA's Supplemental Health Products conference. Supplemental health product development is hot for a couple of reasons. One is the numbers: According to LIMRA, collective sales of these products in employer-related markets are up 5 percent over 2016, continuing a multi-year growth trend. More importantly, employers are confused by uncertainty over basic medical products and concerned they need to offer voluntary options to fill coverage gaps.

The panel focused on trends in product development. In deference to my fellow panelists and facilitators, I will limit this column to things I discussed, though everyone had great things to say.

The first topic we discussed was how insurers are incorporating customer feedback into product development. We look to every customer in the product value chain for input: the employer, employee and broker (who is a facilitator for the others). We conduct marketing research and want to know that any development is going to satisfy needs for employers and employees—and that it will be sold by our brokers.

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