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5 Strategies to Combat Health Reform Pressures

Margaret Dick Tocknell, for HealthLeaders Media, June 20, 2011

Health plan executives say their three major challenges are figuring out how to deal with healthcare reform, the health insurance industry's systemic shift from wholesale to retail business and bending the cost curve.

Resolving the challenges will require health plans to shift their focus from group to individual sales, identify and test new behavior predictors and shorten the timeline of product development.

The findings were part of a session about predicting and managing change presented at the annual conference for America's Health Insurance Plans. The session was based on a study developed from interviews with 40 senior healthcare executives by SAS, a Cary, N.C.-based business analytics firm, and Chicago-based Stonegate Advisors, a healthcare research and analytics company.

"Health plans are facing a fundamental change in how they do business," explained Sarah Rittman, a senior industry consultant for SAS. "Accurately predicting market shifts will be imperative for developing go-to-market strategies."

The study, Tackling U.S. Health Plan Challenges with Advanced Analytics, presents these strategies for health plans:

1. Predict market changes in new and creative ways

Today's healthcare market depends on traditional actuarial and underwriting principles to predict risk. But the post-reform market will require health plans to combine third party data – like credit information, social media and purchase data ? with claims data to help understand potential market shifts.