COVID-19 and the Future of Health Insurance Premium Billing

Times of great stress lead to rapid change. World War I led to the rapid evolution of airplanes to combat trench warfare. World War II accelerated nuclear energy research and led to the atomic bomb. The Cold War led to rapid advancements in space travel and led to the first moon landing.

In a lot of ways COVID-19 is going to force businesses into rapid change in order to survive and grow.  For health insurers, the coronavirus provided clues about how to improve premium billing and payment. Here are four ways COVID-19 could pave the way for the future of health insurance premium billing and payment:

Cloud-based

COVID-19 could kill legacy, server-based billing systems that require network access to use and maintain. As the white-collar world moved to remote work, the convenience of a cloud-based solution became more obvious. The billing infrastructure of the future is going to be cloud-based, accessible anywhere and easier to maintain when those who use the system are forced (or allowed) to work where they live.

Plus, cloud platforms offer benefits that insurers shouldn’t overlook. For example, without having to build and maintain hardware infrastructure, businesses can invest more in revenue-generating products and services. Plus, if you use a major cloud storage provider, you’ll gain access to baseline security protections – like authentication, access control and encryption. So not only can cloud-based solutions improve accessibility for remote workers, but it can also reduce long-term maintenance costs and improve security.

Flexible Payment Options

Health insurance carriers must become more customer-centric to compete in an increasingly market-based environment. COVID-19 accelerated that customer-centricity because it rapidly changed the insurance market. High unemployment led to many individuals moving from employer-sponsored insurance to the individual or COBRA market, where they’re responsible for paying for insurance.

As a result, insurers need to offer multiple payment options – ACH, checks, credit cards and even cash – in order to satisfy the needs of a changing insured population. Yet, some carriers stopped accepting paper checks when their employees started working remotely because they can’t collect and process that form of payment without employees in a central location. Insurers need to review and improve those outdated, centralized processes and COVID-19 may have hastened the process.

Modular

NASA designed the Apollo spacecraft in multiple modules, each with different functions. The lunar module carried astronauts from the Apollo spacecraft to the Moon’s surface and back. The service module provided fuel for propulsion, air conditioning and water. The command module housed the astronauts and communication and navigation controls.

When NASA commissioned engineers and teams to build the modules, they revealed other modules’ capabilities and interfaces, but didn’t publish details to other teams. Because of that modular design, each team was able to build the best solution for its individual function without really considering the unit as a whole. Though each module relied on others, NASA did not specifically design the project as one space-traveling unit. The result: NASA used this modular design to complete over a dozen missions to the moon.

Carriers need to think about billing and payment as modules so they can build best of breed solutions. The billing and payment module relies on data from upstream processes – like enrollment systems – but should be designed independently. That modularity not only improves the effectiveness of each module, but makes upgrading technology or functionality easier because modules can be decoupled from the end-to-end solution easier.

Configurable, Not Customizable

The 2013 Super Bowl will forever be remembered as the game that was paused for 34 minutes because of a power outage. It was also the game which generated a ton of publicity for Oreo thanks to a simple tweet showing a picture of an Oreo with a caption saying “You can still dunk in the dark.”

That simple real-time tweet earned a lot of retweets and awards for the creative team behind it. Why? Because the team responsible reacted quickly to an event and created a strong message on the fly.

Health insurers that can do the same during the pandemic will likewise be rewarded. One way to do that is to invest in billing and payment platforms that are configurable, not customizable. What’s the difference? Configurable solutions generally have options you can toggle on or off. Customizable solutions are built more rigidly to a specification that requires additional programming to change.

The importance of configurability became important once COVID-19 hit. For example, many health insurers decided to suspend penalties for late payments. Configurable solutions make that easier to accomplish with less resources. As a result, insurers can react more quickly to changes in their environment.

COVID-19 has disrupted the world throughout 2020. But the silver lining may be that it forces organizations to change outdated systems and processes as a result, improving customer experiences. The future of health insurance premium billing may be coming faster as a result.

Certifi’s health insurance premium billing and payment solutions help healthcare payers improve member satisfaction while reducing administrative costs.

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