The mobile app experiences provided by Australia’s private health insurers deliver a basic suite of features to members, but not much more according to a new report, which argues digital strategies could help rescue funds from their current ‘death spiral.’ 

Earlier this year Grattan Institute said the industry is in a ‘death spiral’ with young and healthy members dropping their cover as premiums rise, while those who are left are more likely to get sick and go to hospital, driving insurance costs up further. These higher costs cause even more members, who don’t see value in the product, to defect. 

The report, Mobilising Health Funds by digital product agency Fusion reviewed 15 health fund mobile apps from major insurers like Bupa, Medibank and HCF, compared to mid-sized funds, regional organisations and digitally-focused brands like AHM.

The research concluded there is a massive opportunity for funds of all sizes to get ahead digitally, due to the fragmented nature and varied quality of mobile features on offer. 

As the report points out, on average, health fund apps are no better than the 3-star rating they receive in the app stores. 

“Health fund members today are not the same as health fund members of tomorrow. It’s crucial for funds to reflect and recognise that people are living connected, rapid lifestyles. To support this, the funds need to provide a meaningful mobile experience as this is the place consumers are most likely to turn to first,” said Damien Mair, Fusion’s Co-founder and Director. 

“Unlike the physical world where health funds compete on availability by having dozens of strategically located branches and service centres, they now all have the same real-estate on a mobile device. This means the most valuable touchpoint is having your brand’s app accessible on the home screen of your customer’s mobile.”

The apps require an improvement in quality as well as new features. The report notes that self-service tools could help lower service costs may result in a reduction of premiums, directly impacting the affordability issue.  

It also recommends funds use digital tools to provide a more holistic health and wellness service, for example by adding fitness tracking to earn points. 

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