Industry Trends: Health Benefits Get Smart in 2019

Industry Trends: Health Benefits Get Smart in 2019

As we bring in 2019, it’s an exciting time to look at the future and see what is in store for our industry that can make our health care system more efficient and cost effective, yielding better consumer experiences and more cost effective outcomes.

One of those developments is Artificial Intelligence, otherwise known as AI. AI isn’t a new concept by any stretch of the imagination and has been critical in the progression of many industries. However, over the next few years, advancing computing technologies and machine learning (such as AI) will become pivotal to growth in the marketplace, moving this concept from mere vision and theory to executable technology.

AI will help guide employees to make smart healthcare decisions and give them the tools necessary to shop for the best price, especially as financial responsibility for health care continues to grow and burden individuals seeking quality, affordable health care.  But, the benefits of AI won’t be limited to the worker, as many stakeholders in the health benefits arena will capitalize on its value.

Today, most workers are left alone to choose their healthcare accounts without fully understanding the value of their options. While some employees have the benefits of an adviser to help make these decisions, especially in today’s digital world, this is an expensive and slow business model.  However, the idea is to bring this technology to support the entire benefits lifecycle and deliver the same experience that employees have come to expect in their everyday lives, such as using mobile app support to shop for health and wellness solutions at the moment they are needed.

Below are some ways where AI could begin to impact the benefits cycle as we know it:

Enrollment decisions—It is no secret that general health insurance and financial understanding is challenge to many employees trying to understand their benefits versus cost.  AI can positively shift perceptions of consumer-driven health plans and accounts, educating them on the value and helping them to determine their personal contribution strategy in an automated way that is easy, personalized, and effective!

Saving for the future—Employees are not disciplined about saving, so it’s a stretch to think they will aggressively save for their health care without solid explanation. AI will track and analyze health care spending to provide personalized recommendations that maximize every dollar while preparing employees to better save for their future. .

Incentives—If properly positioned, incentives have a great influence in the benefits lifecycle.  Applying AI to maximize their value, incentives will become even more personalized to help workers better manage and prevent chronic disease. Goals can be set and tracked around diet, exercise, and even sleep—using contributions as a financial reward.

Spending guidance—Employees can also use AI to open their benefits’ app to find provider, price, and quality of care combination that best meets their needs. Imagine employees using their smartphone to find the closest pharmacy that offers a free strep test while the urgent care three miles away could charge $85. The technology is at the doorstep and even available in certain care models.

Although many of these ideas are still being developed and taking shape, there are new and exciting AI technologies and options available that will transform our industry and make 2019 an exciting year for health care.