Author: Suzy Coulson
The health insurance landscape is set to change with the privatisation of Medibank Private. We won’t necessarily see the effects immediately, but it will undoubtedly impact the industry and the general public who use it. While Medibank Private has been supported and protected by the government, this will soon change, which will throw Medibank Private into a new realm of market competition.
Before any changes do come into play, Global Reviews ran a Digital Marketing Effectiveness study to capture the ways in which consumers are currently researching and selecting a health insurance provider. Between November 2013 and November 2014, there have been some notable changes with a drop in brand preferences as well as a shift in the reasons why consumers are considering brands.
Across the top 10 brands for health insurance, only three brands saw an increase in the number of prospective customers putting them on their consideration shortlist, with a combined increase of 12%. This increase doesn’t make up for the combined 41% decrease of the seven other top 10 brands. Of the three brands who had increases, Medibank Private had the biggest lift with 5%. They were followed by GMHBA who increased by 4% and Bupa with 3%. Heading the other way, Australian Unity and HCF suffered the biggest losses, both with a 9% drop, followed by HBF and NIB with a 7% drop.
Along with a drop in brands getting shortlisted, there’s also been a drop across some of the key reasons why brands were selected to be on a shortlist. Previously, the following reasons for shortlisting a brand ranked quite high:
- The website helped me compare options
- They gave me plenty of options to choose from
- Their products/offers were easy to understand
- Their website helped me find products/services quickly
In this latest study, however, all the above reasons dropped by an average of 9%. Meanwhile, selecting a website that is visually appealing and/or looks easy to use was chosen by consumers on an average increase of 5% from the previous study. So whilst health insurance websites may look better than they did 12 months ago, their usability appears to have suffered because of it.
The Global Reviews Sales Effectiveness benchmark study shows that website functionality has indeed dropped for the health insurance industry. Either that, or consumer expectations have increased. At the same time, the desire to use the websites has also dropped. In 2013 when the benchmark industry average was 51%, 48% of consumers were stating they would want to research policy options, get a quote and purchase the insurance online. Now, in 2014, the benchmark industry average has dropped to 49% and the number of consumers wanting to complete the research through to purchase process online has also dropped, now at 35%. Consequently, as website usability drops, so too does the desire to use it; to the point where having the ability to apply online has dropped from an importance rating of 8.2/10 down to 7.9/10. Considering 17% of consumers would leave a website and look for another provider if they encountered problems, it’s vital to ensure website usability doesn’t continue to drop.
As the dynamic of the health insurance industry faces change with the government letting go of control of one of Australia’s biggest health insurance providers, it marks a vital time for providers to reassess their offerings and the channels in which they deliver that offer. Consumers currently aren’t considering as many providers as they were previously, and research is showing that lacking website usability is contributing to this. Nobody can predict how the industry will be impacted by the privatisation of Medibank Private, so if brands want to secure a leading position in this changing market, then they need to take a look at their websites as this is one variable than they can control.
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