Virtual Insurance Market™ (VIM™)
How your plan designs are presented to consumers can be more important than the specific benefits they contain. As carriers battle for the minds and wallets of consumers, the likelihood of being seen may be more dependent upon the decisions made by the insurance marketplace developers than the benefits being offered. DSS can help you find out what factors will help or hurt your products’ positioning and move you to the forefront in any comparisons.
Some factors that may impact your products’ chances of being selected are:
- Filtering. If the marketplace where your products are shown asks consumers to select their doctor upfront, your plans may be filtered out simply because you do not contract with a certain provider or your network participation information is not up-to-date. Other filters may be offered to consumers that could prevent your products from even being considered.
- Premium sorting. If products are automatically sorted according to monthly premium, you may never be seen if your product is not among the three or four lowest cost options. Even if you offer added value services, have a broader network or lower out-of-pocket costs, consumers may have trouble finding your products if marketplaces choose to show only three or four plan designs at a time. Even though all available plans are accessible, we know from extensive past work that being on the “first page” greatly increases your chances of being selected.
- Total cost sorting. Besides sorting on monthly premium, some marketplaces may make assumptions about consumers’ likely health care usage in the coming year (or ask the consumer to make these assumptions), then display plans in ascending order of cost for monthly premium and out-of-pocket expenses combined. A plan with a slightly higher monthly premium and lower doctor visit costs might look more favorable when sorted based on total annual costs for a family that expects numerous doctor visits, but no major medical procedures for the year. Likewise, slightly higher inpatient copays for hospitalization could push a plan outside the top three or four options when it is assumed the individual will have at least one hospitalization in the next year.
- Alphabetical sorting. If your brand name or product name starts toward the end of the alphabet, say an “S” or a “T” for example, consumers may have to click through several pages of competitor plan designs before even seeing your offerings. Again, past work by DSS says not to expect too much effort from consumers when viable alternatives are readily available on the first screen they examine.
- Hidden features. If your greatest product or company strengths are not readily visible to consumers, they cannot carry any weight in their decision process. Every feature cannot be highlighted on the first page or two of plan comparisons, so knowing which features will get you recognized and which ones will go unseen (or worse, harm your positioning because they add to out-of-pocket costs or premium but do not show up as a positive benefit to consumers) is critical to being selected.
In the same way that brands and products compete to gain visibility in search engines like Google and Bing, health insurance marketplaces force carriers to battle to be seen and recognized. To win these battles, you need to know what the rules of competition are and how to leverage these rules to your advantage.
Obtaining a top ranking in search engines is done through Search Engine Optimization (SEO). DSS can help you achieve the same kind of success through our Marketplace Exchange Optimization™ (MEO)™. The goal of Marketplace Exchange Optimization™ is to make sure your products are seen, and seen in the most favorable manner possible, among your target consumers. Knowing how your plans will be presented in each marketplace and testing different approaches is critical to optimizing your positioning.
DSS replicates the look, feel and key functionalities of any state or the Federal marketplace where your products are offered. We call these simulated environments, Virtual Insurance Market™ or VIMs™. We recruit consumers to go through the VIM, evaluating your products and the competition exactly the way they would do in the real marketplace. However, the VIM allows us to test different sorting and filtering options, pricing strategies, network assumptions and product design options and measure the impact of each one on product viewing and selection.
We capture every keystroke, every filter and every plan they do (or do not) review. This wealth of information is used in an experimental design to help you definitively determine which strategies will have the most impact and what competitive responses could most impact your plans’ positioning.
For more information or to request a proposal to create a Virtual Insurance Marketplace for your organization, contact us, email email@example.com or call 800-989-5150 and ask for the Strategy Research Team.