Reprinted from Insurance Thought Leadership, February 16, 2016
By Dianne Schuetz
Summary: There are now 3 million patients at 7,000 retail healthcare clinics in the U.S. -- and all could become centers for selling life insurance.
The availability of rapid diagnostic technology and the dramatic growth of retail healthcare has converged to create opportunities for the life insurance industry to attract and serve millions of consumers who are uninsured. Increasingly, consumers are visiting retail locations for healthcare. Life insurers stand to benefit in both the short and long term by taking advantage of the convenience of retail healthcare and the availability of rapid testing to speed underwriting.
Rapid Tests Meet Consumer and Insurer Needs
In the past five years, minimally invasive rapid diagnostic testing has been revolutionized. Its accuracy, speed and ease-of-use have made it a perfect fit for the retail health environment. Rapid tests require only a small drop of blood or an oral swab, deliver accurate results in minutes and meet stringent FDA guidelines. Tests, such as A1c for diabetes or cotinine for smoking detection, can be combined into one kit for ease of use and distribution. And, because results can be seen immediately, rapid tests meet consumer expectations of speed by eliminating the delays inherent in the central lab process.
Faced with declining sales, forward-thinking insurers and reinsurers are using these new tools and processes to enable rapid issue of insurance. And, when combined with more traditional measurements such as height, weight and blood pressure, rapid tests provide insurers with the information they need to make accurate and quick decisions on a life insurance application. The data can be electronically transferred from the retail site to the insurer to enable immediate, rule-based decisions. As a result, an insurance offer can quickly be delivered to the consumer—often by the time he or she arrives home—delighting consumers and shrinking the life insurance underwriting process considerably.
Growth of Retail Healthcare Creates Reach into Neighborhoods
Retail pharmacies and urgent care clinics are quickly becoming neighborhood clinics. They are able to provide a broad range of services, with the majority offering health screenings and wellness services to fulfill the growing consumer demand for affordable, accessible healthcare in a convenient and professional setting.
This trend is one that we can expect to grow and broaden. According to Accenture’s recent analysis, “Walk-in retail clinics, located in pharmacies, retail chains and supermarkets, will add capacity for 25 million patient visits in 2017, up from 16 million in 2014.” The Urgent Care Association of America reports similar growth. There are now 7,000 urgent care clinics in the U.S. that see three million patients each week.
A New Process for a New Generation
The availability of rapid diagnostic testing in retail settings offers a unique opportunity for life insurers to address several challenges in the application process that are cumbersome to today’s consumers. Many of these consumers simply disappear because the insurance process takes too long. Rapid testing speeds the delivery of results to the insurer so it can quickly make an offer to the consumers. Consumers are able to complete testing in a convenient and professional setting.
In an age where speed of information is not only expected but demanded from consumers, this new paradigm provides insurers and reinsurers with a process that consumers will applaud with their loyalty and their life insurance dollars.
About the Author
Dianne Schuetz is the senior vice president of operations for Force Diagnostics, which develops and commercializes FDA-approved, CLIA-waived rapid diagnostic tests that identify underlying disease states and the presence of Nicotine and drugs of abuse. The tests are administered at retail points of presence, or the workplace, and results are immediately transmitted back to life insurance and wellness constituents. Follow @insurancethough for more stories like this.