Stamford, Conn. – A rapidly shifting, increasingly consumer-centric insurance market is no safe harbor for health insurers, a new research note from Gartner, Inc. contends.

To flourish in this marketplace, health insurer CIOs and senior business strategists must include, in their 2008 budget and IT planning processes, activities that address trends driving the future of health insurance, the note says. If they don't, new market entrants that know how to focus on those individuals will take their business.

“Consumer interaction with health insurers is becoming increasingly important. Consumers realize that their customer experiences outside the healthcare realm are far more efficient and satisfying,” says Robert Booz, vice president and analyst for Gartner’s financial services research team. “Therefore, they are expecting — and beginning to demand — more accurate information and tools with which to make clinical and financial health decisions.”

Carriers are finding it difficult to move from the traditional view in which employers are their only customers, Booz says. “Health insurers must reinvent themselves—and quickly—to meet this reality and stave off new competitors that are significantly more consumer-centric and better at marketing to individuals.”

Gartner also identified 10 trends that it believes require budget line-item attention now, in preparation for the 2008 budget-planning cycle. Among these trends is the entrance of banks and investment firms into the health insurance market as traditional barriers fall.

Source: Gartner

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