By Jami Gibson

After conducting research for a local health insurance company, I wondered what kind of pressures these companies would face as the healthcare industry is in the process of being radically transformed. How do health insurance carriers plan to compete and retain customers under new regulations? According to First Research, here are four opportunities for health insurance carriers to stay ahead of the game.

Provide additional products
In addition to their managed care plans, more health insurance carriers are offering supplemental services such as life insurance, disability, health savings accounts, and other investment products to become a one-stop-shop for healthcare and insurance needs.

Increase use of health IT
The use of electronic health records is on the rise, and some carriers are even offering bonuses to medical professionals who participate in adopting this new technology. EHRs allow for more coordinated care organized around the patient.

Offer consumer-directed plans
These plans help employers cut costs, and put consumers in control of their care where they can tailor a plan to suit their needs. Most plans offer a high deductible coupled with a health reimbursement account to cover care costs.

Maintain internet information sites
Health insurance carriers enhance their customer’s experience by providing informational websites regarding medical issues, advice, current research, and other knowledge to help consumers manage their conditions. Successful management of chronic diseases can lower costs by preventing the need for more invasive measures.