By now it's well known that millennials represent our nation's most uninsured generation. And this is not relegated to any one sector of insurance--it's happening across all facets from health to life to renters' insurance. As the largest generation of adults in the nation--roughly 73 million--insurance companies need to have a plan in place to address this trend if they want to thrive in this new era. One primary reason for the expanding millennial insurance gap is the perception of inaccessibility. Millennials either don't know how to apply, feel navigating the insurance options and exchanges is difficult, don't feel informed enough, or see it as an inconvenience because the information they need is not available when and where they need it.
Consumer-centric applications for artificial intelligence (AI) and automation are helping to stamp out the public perception that these technologies will only benefit businesses and negatively impact jobs and hiring. The conversation from human replacement to human efficiency has become more mainstream as we see AI applications in healthcare, social media, mass transportation, financial industries and many more. Andrew Ng – Computer scientist and adjunct professor of computer science at Stanford – has recently referred to AI as "the new electricity," pointing out that most industries will see the value from AI significantly expand over the next decade. Recent advancements have helped to overhaul mundane and outdated processes and provide advanced data analysis and enhanced or, "augmented," intelligence to support not just companies, but individual employees and consumers. In 2018 and 2019, AI was tapped to disrupt and improve multiple industries, and was the prime target for VC funding with investments well into the billions.
Health insurance is a source of confusion, frustration and stress for many Americans. While the federal and state governments have taken measures to improve the health insurance system, many Americans still groan at the complexities and shortcomings that leave some 15% of adults ages 19-34 uninsured, and both uninsured and insured people say insurance is too expensive. Reforms to the nation's healthcare system are also insufficient for many. About 11% of uninsured people had income below the poverty level but were ineligible for Medicaid because their state did not expand the program. Even reforms to the health insurance system are not reaching most of those who still lack insurance.
But by 2017, that price tag had ballooned to $3.5 trillion flowing to and from insurers, Medicare and Medicaid via patient premiums and claims payouts to healthcare providers and drug companies. All told, keeping the U.S. healthcare system spinning took six billion insurance-related transactions (an increase of 1.2 billion transactions from 2016), according to the nonprofit Council of Affordable Quality Healthcare. Could artificial intelligence (AI) technologies help control the industry's rising costs and tsunami of paperwork? Insurers could save up to $7 billion over 18 months using AI-driven technologies by streamlining administrative processes, according to a recent Accenture study. By automating routine business tasks alone, the study projects that health insurers could save $15 million per 100 full-time employees.
The current state of the consumer healthcare experience has significant room for improvement. According to the Accolade Consumer Healthcare Experience Index, nearly a third of Americans say that navigating a healthcare system makes them more uncomfortable than does buying a home, a car, or some expensive technology. Sarah Buhr at TechCrunch describes medical billing as "murky" since "most of the time it's not clear how much something will cost and sometimes you don't even get the (possibly whopping) bill until months down the road." Clearly, medical billing and electronic claims processing can be improved to be more transparent and intuitive. A report by Meritalk highlights how data integration issues with healthcare benefits verification led to a staggering $343 billion in economic costs annually, which are borne by government health and human services agencies.