The health insurance industry has been slow or no-growth. It does not seem to be relevant and appealing to customers that much as the value isn’t realized immediately. Insurance wasn’t my interest until I read this article and found some interesting connection with our class last week on data and privacy.
The article was about John Hancock, an insurance company, teaming up with Vitality program, an integrated wellness program. Their strategy is to encourage customers to take better care of themselves with some monetary incentives. The systems works like this: customer earns point through healthy activities by sharing that piece of information to the system; by maintaining a certain points, customer obtains certain status, which translates to lower payment or gains some bonus. The underlined logic makes sense to me. I mean, Health Insurance Company would like to have its customers stay healthy and anyone would want to be a healthy person.
I found this model a way to revive health insurance industry. Indeed, besides checking on medical histories upfront, insurance companies do not have much information about the customers’ wellness and other activities during the life of the insurance plan. There is a gap between insurance and customer’s relationship. If it is meant to secure the individual and the family, insurance should have developed a better way to maintain the relationship and keep track of how the customers are doing. An automatic withdrawal amount from the customers’ bank obviously can’t enhance that relationship.
If a customer is an already active person, taking an extra step to enroll in the program and answer health related questions seem to be a minor thing to do, considering the savings in the long payment plan. On the other hand, if one is not so active, the Vitality program seems to give it a push and incentivizes the person to be more active and healthy. The question for this new model is privacy. The article indicates “consumers participating in the Vitality program must be comfortable providing enough information continuously to meet certain thresholds that will convert into worthwhile savings. Including workouts, physical exam or answering sensitive personal questions.”
Though the customer can choose whether or not to send data to the program as if s/he is not comfortable with, the trade off is no point is earned. I think the system lays out a fair game to customers. Point can’t be recognized if not known to the database.
As I think hard about this new model for health insurance, I really see how it can actually work. Health is a big concern. People do healthy activity for their own good. Now health insurance is trying to translate that goodness into money by asking people to share that data. We talk in class about how data can transform the nowadays business. We also discuss how much we care about our privacy but not so good at securing them information. I think we have been giving up too much personal information for just convenience or for maintaining relationship on multiple social media platform. If things are set up correctly, the monetary incentive of sharing fitness and health data to the insurance would innovate the industry and take privacy to the next step.
There are a lot of questions on how insurance companies would use our health data in the future to harm us, if it would happen. But I can see that keeping information private is a struggle where many more companies are craving for our data and offering so much of benefit for that data.
What would be your response to this, guys?