California Broker May 2018

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Technology Is Changing Our Industry Your Survival Could Be at Stake by JESSICA WORD


echnology continues to change the way all of us interact, both personally and professionally. In the health insurance industry, technology advances and improvements have been a result of increased consumerism, health care reform and enactment of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), and today’s “I want it now” society. While technology has certainly helped make most of our jobs easier (at least at some level), there are still barriers that prevent some brokers from adopting and using new technology. Unfortunately, that resistance could be detrimental to the future growth of your business. Increased automation is the direction we are headed, and it’s what more and more clients want . . . and expect. What was once a paper-driven industry is, increasingly, transitioning to an industry where more activities are online: quoting, enrollment, reporting and administration. It is easy to understand why, with reduced errors in data and insurance calculations, faster group processing, increasing mobile app use (in people’s everyday lives), a new generation of workers (who are comfortable doing more things online and on their smartphones), and increased outsourcing of benefits administration by employers. DRAMATIC MOVES IN LESS THAN A DECADE The drive to online enrollment and increased automation – for even smaller organizations – cannot be ignored. It’s a trend that is likely to continue, and accelerate. Consider these statistics: 1) A 2017 survey on employee benefits by Guardian Life Insurance Company of America found a 165 percent growth rate in the proportion of employees who use some combination of web-based technology to enroll in 12 | CALIFORNIA BROKER

their benefits. 2) Guardian found 40 percent of employees enrolled via computer-only (versus 12 percent five years earlier). 3) Thirty-six percent used paper only enrollment, down from 58 percent in 2012. 4) Sixty-one percent of enrolling employees used a computer for a portion of their benefits enrollment. 5) Among full-time employees who used computer-based technology for at least a portion of their benefits enrollment, 92 percent cited convenience as the top reason. 6) Eighty-seven percent said online ac­ cess to benefits saves time and 73 percent said it gives them more control. Business Insurance reported in March 2018 about a Buck Consultants survey that found 93 percent of employers communicate benefits information to employees via websites – and 80 percent of those organizations say that three-quarters of their workforces are online. Online enrollment simplifies benefits selection for all parties: brokers, employers, and employees. It gives brokers and employers insight into an active enrollment and highlights those employees who have – and have not – completed their benefits - -

selection. It helps solve for missing information by requiring specific input by enrolling employees before allowing them to complete an enrollment. That means expedited case approvals and a smoother enrollment process. Researching and matching your needs and those of your clients to the right enrollment technology partner is vital. You want to be sure you select an organization that continues to evolve their digital tools – one with a past and a future. With regard to enrollment, because technology is improving, information today can be far more personalized than in the past. Employees are now able to see only what they need to see – and only what’s relevant to their individual or family enrollment. Consequently, technology is helping employers communicate benefits information more effectively. There is less employee confusion and higher employer satisfaction. HR departments that used to get a lot of calls during open enrollment no longer have to staff-up to address that influx. Application Program Interface – API – is also critical, so data about the group is shared more easily and quickly, eliminating or reducing the required re-entry of benefits and employee information. MAY 2018