5 Emerging Trends in Health Insurance to Recognize Before 2018 Open Enrollment

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Health insurance is a crucial necessity for consumers around the globe. Whether you are a single professional or the head of a large family, health insurance offers a sense of security against the unexpected and plays a large role in ensuring that people of all ages have access to preventive care and ongoing treatments. While the concept of health insurance plans has been around since the early 1900s, there are constant changes that alter practices and policies in the field. These changes are largely driven by the preferences, buying habits and demands of consumers like you. Consider these five emerging trends in health insurance that are being driven by consumers:

1. Virtual Visits Coverage

With the introduction of numerous virtual healthcare services and apps which focus on providing patient care online in recent years, more professionals and busy families are opting for health insurance plans that offer telemedicine coverage. In response to this preference for a "modern-day house call," a number of top insurers have begun to offer coverage or reimbursement for these services. While they cannot be used as a replacement for regular check-ups and more urgent medical concerns, they are convenient for minor ailments such as sinus infections and ear aches. Virtual doctor's visits are expected to increase by as much as 50 percent by the year 2020, so it is likely that telemedicine will continue to be a big focus for consumers and health insurance companies alike in the years to come.

2. Cheap Plans

While consumers are always on the prowl for inexpensive insurance plans, skyrocketing health insurance costs have fueled an added interest in locating the cheapest insurance plans. A focus on price means that consumers may begin to opt for policies offered by lesser-known health insurance companies if they offer cheaper premiums than larger corporations.

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3. Discounts and Incentives

Aside from discovering who offers the cheapest health insurance plans, consumers are beginning to opt for plans with companies that offer discounts and incentives. While these discounts and incentives vary widely from company to company, some of the most popular plans with consumers include those that cover the cost of health monitoring devices, such as Fitbits and Apple Watches, and those that offer reduced gym membership costs. Additionally, a few health insurance giants have adopted discounted rates for those who participate in specialized and preventative health care plans.

4. Reviews and Flexibility

Before choosing a PCP or health insurance company, many consumers are doing thorough research. If the healthcare company offers coverage with a limited network of physicians, consumers are less likely to be satisfied with their coverage. Instead, they are seeking flexible policies that allow them to seek care from physicians with excellent reviews and established online presences. While many consumers are limited to their employers' sponsored healthcare plans, those who purchase private plans are beginning to take reviews of health insurance companies into consideration as well. A series of negative reviews regarding limited coverage, complicated referrals, reimbursement difficulties or increasing prices may sway a consumer to look elsewhere for their needs.

5. Higher Deductibles, Lower Premiums

Another emerging trend in consumer's health insurance is the act of securing plans with higher deductibles and lower premiums. This means that many consumers without major health concerns are opting to pay for their own basic health care expenses, such as eye exams and check-ups, while reserving health insurance for unexpected and more costly expenses, such as hospitalization.

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