One of the most common questions we get from carriers and technology partners is “What’s happening in ...” Because of the work RGA and RGAX do in collaboration with carriers and technology partners, we have a front row seat to the latest trends and developments. Three key areas of interest in 2021 are wellness, eldercare, and genetics. In a global survey RGA conducted, more than 100 major life and health insurers across four continents shared current plans, initiatives, challenges, and opportunities across these areas of focus. In this post, I’ll share some high-level findings from the global surveys and what insurance leaders need to be on the lookout for heading into 2022.
Trends to Watch in Wellness
Wellness is a term that’s on everyone’s lips, including the customers we serve. In fact, spurred on by COVID, 85% of the 107 life and health insurers we surveyed prioritize wellness. However, the initiatives they’re planning go well beyond the baseline perks they’ve offered in the past.
The overarching trend we’re seeing is a more holistic approach to wellness that addresses the complete person. Almost three-quarters (71%) surveyed plan to offer traditional wellness perks, such as gym memberships. However, recognizing that lasting wellness involves both diet and exercise, they frequently cite nutrition programs as planned enhancements. Over half (54%) also offer or intend to offer mental health platforms, services, or tools, including on-demand mobile and web-based support and counseling. Almost a quarter (23%) plan to go even further by offering financial wellness tools, including guidance and apps.
Themes Emerging in Eldercare
With people living longer worldwide, virtually every carrier we talk to has focused on eldercare. Our survey confirmed, though, that carriers aren’t just focused on increasing life expectancy or helping customers deal with the inevitable challenges of aging. They’re reaching beyond assisted living and long-term care to promote healthy living and support physical, mental, and financial well-being.
COVID-19 has had a significant impact in this space, with 44% of those surveyed saying they’ve reprioritized initiatives to focus more on virtual care technologies. Three priorities stand out: the support and promotion of aging in place, the targeting of social isolation, and apps or technology for improving the overall health of seniors.
Of course, offering affordable products and good coverage remain a cornerstone of eldercare, and more than half of the carriers we surveyed (55%) intend to focus their product development efforts there. Still, since many new offerings are likely to have a digital component, for example, wellness portals and healthtech wearables, carriers remain concerned about low adoption rates for these technologies among seniors.
What’s Moving the Needle in Genetics
Genetics is still an emerging focus area in insurance, but there is plenty of interest among the carriers who responded to our survey. Overall, they see genetics as a value add for their customers, offering a way to increase customer engagement, motivate healthier lifestyles, and improve longevity.
Precision medicine, an approach that customizes healthcare to an individual’s genetic makeup, is garnering the most attention. Pharmacogenetics, for instance, is an emerging discipline that allows providers to match individuals with the most effective drug for their illness or pain based on their genetic makeup. Going forward, many see pharmacogenetics playing a vital role in improving outcomes and preventing serious side effects.
While precision medicine has much to offer individuals, carriers are also embracing the bottom-line benefits to their organizations. By better tailoring healthcare to the individual, it may be possible to reduce overall claims, lessen drug wastage, improve disability claims management, decrease sick time, and increase workplace productivity.
To learn more about the emerging trend of genetics-based wellness and healthcare, read Is Precision Medicine Shaping the Future of Wellness-Based Insurance Products?
Take a Deeper Look
RGA’s 2021 surveys provide a goldmine of information for carriers looking to grow their businesses by focusing on what matters. In future posts, we will be looking more deeply into the specific region-focused research results from our survey outreach. Subscribe to our blog, and you can get these delivered directly to your inbox.