Life insurance is something that healthcare providers would rather not deal with. After all, it is only slightly related to the medical field, in that most insurers require a person to undergo a medical before approving their application. However, that could soon change.
If you need a refresher on life insurance, this article from Lemonade Insurance does a great job at explaining what life insurance covers. For people who do not have dependents, this information may not be something they know. Even those who do have dependents don’t always know how much insurance they should get, or whether they even really need life insurance.
The idea that technology will impact life insurance might sound strange, but it is already happening. Here’s how it will impact healthcare providers.
Over the past decade, real-time tracking of personal health has become widespread. Just about everyone has a step-counter, even if it is just the internal hardware of their phones. Watches and other devices that track heart rate have proliferated around the world.
The data collected on these devices can help doctors assess patients’ health. This is one sense in which technology impacts the role of healthcare providers in life insurance. Insurers are trying to start requiring doctors to assess health and lifestyle based on this data.
But it goes further than the initial assessment. Life insurance is changing to become more participatory.
Gamification of insurance
Around the world, health insurers have found ways to gamify exercise and lifestyle choices. They reward members for exercising a certain amount of times a week, completing a certain number of steps every day, and even eating items off healthy menus.
This gamification is coming to life insurance as well. The reality for insurers is that a member’s good health is to their benefit. As such, they are using similar techniques to try and drive healthy lifestyle choices.
Monitoring members’ lifestyles through smart devices is easier than ever and members can choose to opt in. The insurer can then give them goals, providing rewards for meeting those goals. These rewards may be lower premiums. Alternatively, they can add funds to a no-claims payment at the end of a prescribed period of time.
How does this affect healthcare providers? Insurance companies can further assess members by rewarding them for getting checkups. They can use technology to ask providers to consent to sharing confidential medical information.
As things stand, this gamification of insurance can lead to positive results. However, the flipside is that in future they may start punishing bad health instead. This could disadvantage people who do not have the resources or time to maintain a high level of fitness.
When patients request to share medical information with their insurers, it is worth informing them of the dangers inherent in this. While they may well benefit in both health and finance terms, they could also lose out simply due to illness.
Another way gamification of the life insurance industry can impact healthcare providers is that the definition of good health becomes murky. In the internet age, we already have patients diagnosing themselves based on faulty research. Insurance companies deciding on what to consider healthy may be even more dangerous.
The reason for this is that insurance companies don’t really need their members to stay healthy. On the contrary, life insurance companies benefit from members staying alive. Usually, the two things are closely correlated, but that is not always the case. People should not be making medical decisions based on insurance rewards.
Insurance companies meddling in health care is nothing new. After all, they already have a hand in the prices of services and the choice of providers. They make it difficult for hospitals to fire doctors who commit malpractice.
But with technology bridging the gap between human health and saleable data, the line between insurance and healthcare providers could become blurred.
Life insurance technology is improving, which is good for many individuals. It can even lead to better health. However, we must remain cautious about how much of an impact it has in our practice of medicine.