Dental, vision, and medical policies developed separately because they were launched at different times in history. Now customer expectations are driving a convergence, and health plans need to diversify.
What would you say if someone told you that they were creating a new insurance industry based on people’s feet? There are, after all, 26 bones, 30 joints and more than 100 muscles, tendons, and ligaments in each foot. Surely that’s enough to focus an entire insurance industry on. We stand on our feet all day. We use them for running, walking, swimming, biking, nearly everything we do, so it only makes sense to give them their own health insurance. The only drawbacks are that you’ll be required to buy this insurance separately from your healthcare insurance, and you’ll need a separate card, separate benefits, and a separate network of doctors. Maybe too that some employers won’t offer it at all and you’ll need to buy foot insurance directly. But it’s worth it to have specialty care for your feet.
Hopefully, that prospect sounds unnecessary, cumbersome, and downright ridiculous. The feet, like the hands, and like the rest of our bodies are of course all connected. Our overall health is dependent on everything working together in harmony and no one body part should be separated from the body as a whole. The hip bone’s connected to the… thigh bone. You know the jingle. So why on earth would we ever have a different health insurance to focus on only our feet?
This takes me to dental and vision care. I’ve been in the health insurance business since my first job out of college and let’s just say I’m not young. At my job at Aetna, I created GIS maps of provider networks for doctors and dentists across the United States. I remember my supervisor trying, in vain, to explain to me why we were creating one set of maps for dentists and the second set of maps for all other physician types combined.
The answer is both simple and complicated. Dental and vision have separate benefits because they launched at a different time than medical insurance did. Dentistry wasn’t an official focus of insurance until nearly 100 years after medical insurance. The timing of those disciplines were so far apart that they developed their own schools, certifications, and practices. And so it goes today, that we have separate ways to manage, purchase and insure them.
That’s all beginning to change, however, and an individual’s health journey across the insurance maze is the driving force behind it. To improve the member experience, health plans should seriously consider adding dental and vision to their portfolios. If we had a nickel for every time a customer service representative at a health plan’s call center had to field the question about why dental and vision are separate from health insurance, well, we’d have a lot of nickels. There’s no miraculous way to make this complexity go away, of course. But the limitations that make it so difficult to integrate these disparate but similar insurance lines are becoming approachable, affordable, and in fact solvable. The single biggest obstacle is health insurance companies’ legacy administrative systems. Modernizing those systems is a daunting task that few companies want to take on.
How technology helps health, dental and vision insurance integration
Today’s technologies — microservices, APIs, click-not-code, all in a cloud-native environment — make the integration of health, dental, and vision easy, consequently making the member journey easier. At EIS, we’re already experts in group benefits, including dental and vision, in addition to dozens of other lines, like cancer, critical illness, and pet. If a health insurance company is serious about improving their customer’s journey navigating the intricacy of our healthcare system, making dental and vision a seamless experience for their members is an important piece of that puzzle. Adding other group benefits to that member’s experience is just smart business too, but dental and vision are a necessity. A diversified portfolio of offerings is both good for the member and good for the bottom line. EIS can make that strategy come to fruition for health plans in just a few months. That’s right, months. And for CIOs and CTOs thinking longer term, having this type of architectural stack in your ecosystem builds a foundation for modernization.
So while you might not see foot insurance taking off as a great new idea, you can rest easy knowing that if it did, it would easily integrate with your other lines of business using EIS’s open platform, helping you create a seamless customer journey.