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Health Insurance Providers Are With Members For The Long Haul

posted by AHIP

on September 2, 2020

We talk a lot about how health insurance providers serve the communities in which their employees live, work, and play. What you may not know is many health insurance providers have deep roots in the communities they serve.

  • Aetna, for example, was founded in 1853 as Aetna Life Insurance Company. They have been protecting their members continuously for more than 150 years.
  • Cigna’s history goes all the way back to 1792 when the Insurance Company of North America was formed.
  • In 1929, American Enterprise Group got their start as American Republic Insurance Company.
  • Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan celebrated their 80th anniversary in 2019.

The practice of medicine evolves rapidly from decade to decade. New treatments, new technologies, and – front of mind for many of us in 2020 – new diseases require new approaches. Health insurance providers, many of which have spanned the generations, must be quick to adapt to the changing landscape and needs of their members.

Early plans were designed to cover only major problems – offering some financial security to members by allowing them to pre-pay over time for hospital stays and doctor’s visits. In the following years, along with developments in care, plans grew and offered a more diverse range of coverage to help people find the right balance of cost and choice. Employer-provided health coverage grew in popularity as employers sought to attract talent. Today, nearly 180 million Americans receive their health coverage through their job.

Today’s health insurance providers have evolved to take a more active role and a broader view of health. Plans offer a suite of comprehensive benefits to enable people to live fuller, more productive lives. From behavioral health and wellness programs, to nutrition and social support, health insurance providers today are engaged on many levels with the health of the communities they serve.

Looking to the Future

Technology is shaping the future of health insurance as much as it is shaping advancements in medical care. Cloud computing, artificial intelligence, and machine learning are tools that health insurance providers use today to turn data into insight, so they can create the plans and services that members will need tomorrow.

In a 2019 interview, Dr. Stephen Klasko, president and CEO of Thomas Jefferson University and Jefferson Health said, “Instead of just saying that I have a telehealth program, we use telehealth as part of a model to keep people at home … We have to start preparing for a future where 50% of health care that’s currently happening in a doctor’s office or a hospital, or an imaging center will happen at home.”

The COVID-19 crisis has been a big disrupting force in health care. Health insurance providers had to act quickly to ensure members could safely access the care they need – chronic conditions persist and injuries and illness still occur during a global health crisis. This meant the use of telehealth – which had been on the rise – was suddenly booming. Health insurance providers had already been considering how to move more health care services out of the doctor’s office and into a patient’s home,  and were able to act quickly to meet an urgent need.

Today, we are looking beyond the crisis, to consider the opportunities for the future,” said Matt Eyles, AHIP President and CEO. “The recent, swift adoption of telehealth and other technology solutions may permanently improve access to care. Our stronger collaboration with providers can lead to new forms of value-based partnerships. We will discover new opportunities to better support smaller local physician offices, and partner with other organizations to address social barriers that stand between people and better health.”

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