As I consumed my morning quota of economic and financial industry happenings I ran into an ACA open enrollment article released by BankRate here. The story is based on a recent poll that finds over 50% of Americans did not know the Affordable Care Act has a March 31st individual enrollment deadline.
Based on what I have seen and heard to date this really does not come as much of a surprise to me. The healthcare law has much of the population confused. Add in the Healthcare.gov issues and you have a lot of people put off by the plan. Despite the importance of health coverage many of the consumers I have a spoken with have an almost apathetic view towards the new marketplace.
My career has been focused on P&C markets so I asked a few colleagues what they thought of the story. Like me, none of them were surprised. I checked over at IF and it seems we have a consensus.
I realize the ACA has been a nightmare for many in health sales and that the uncertainty with just about every facet of the law can have major career repercussions. There is a lot of resentment and anger from those in the field and it is absolutely justified.
What I would like to do here is make a few observations and ask a couple questions to our readers. Feel free to reply in the comment section, via social or contact me directly if you would prefer.
My network of contacts and ILG contributors in health sales have seen a big uptick in organic referral leads since the initial ACA rollout. Most of these folks have been in the industry for quite some time with strong client bases so the overall confusion has been great for business. Processing apps and payment concerns are another issue all together.
With regard to internet health leads it seems that volume has also been on the rise. Those who do not have a referral source or do not take the initiative to ask are clearly taking to the internet to get guidance from a professional. This is a positive for new entrants despite the processing challenges.
Strategy Moving Forward
Trying to predict where the US health care industry is headed in the upcoming years, or even months, is a guessing game at best. The current administration seems to be willing to make adjustments on the fly and there is no telling what will happen as a result of the next round of congressional and presidential elections.
Market confusion is driving word of mouth referrals. One satisfied client can equate to a stream of new leads.
IF the processing issues can get streamlined it seems that the open enrollment period can eventually become a boon for those that hustle and take full advantage like we have seen with Medicare. I should probably also qualify that this assumes the commission structure is viable.
The strategy for health sales outside of open enrollment will be an adjustment. There are non-marketplace options and plenty of people that will have life events allowing them to enroll or change but the overall individual signup distribution is going to be quite skewed from years past.
I am curious how many of you in the field are planning to approach marketing and lead acquisition outside of OEP. More internet leads? Local advertising? Mailers? A combination of any channel available?
Will you place more emphasis on group or commercial policies?
Will you be looking to add (more) non-health products to offer?
Just a few thoughts and questions I wanted to throw out there. Your feedback is welcome!