Welcome to 2020! We’re kicking it off right by bringing you 20 voices germaine to the California Broker world. Of course, this is not a ranking or top 20 list. We do think our contributors are tops, but we’ve merely arranged the pieces in alphabetical order by last name. You’ll see that we have some longer contributions and some short Q&As and conversations. Our aim was to mix it up—and invite a few fresh faces to contribute along with a few regulars. Read on for what’s on these folks’ minds for 2020….
Q&A with Oscar’s Michael Lujan
CB: What’s important to Oscar in 2020?
Lujan: Growing our member footprint is our top goal this year. We believe health insurance and accessing health care is still painful and confusing for most consumers. We can do better. Our unique consumer-focused model is catching. We expanded our presence to a total of 26 markets in 15 states for 2020, and added a new product too (we launched Medicare Advantage in Texas and New York in 2020). That’s a big milestone for Oscar. Here in California, we expect to expand mostly through enrollment growth on Covered California. A successful 2020 means we can continue to expand within California and more states.
CB: What’s your view of the future of the insurance industry?
Lujan: I like to think we’re helping shape the future of our industry at Oscar. We see a continued trend to adopt technology and apply data science to health care. At Oscar, we continue to grow the percentage of our members who access care via telemedicine. While only 3% of the industry uses telemedicine, 21% of Oscar members are using our telemedicine and avoiding costly and unnecessary trips to the ER and urgent care. We use data to help make informed decisions about access to the right care, not only finding an in-network doctor, but guiding our members to the best providers with quality outcomes. We constantly monitor data to anticipate what comes next so our members stay healthy and happy. Our industry will look very different in just a few years.
CB: What about the role of brokers?
Lujan: Brokers have proven to be the preferred channel for California consumers. As health care and insurance continue to evolve, brokers have also changed how they sell, and the tools used to sell. Veteran brokers have rolled with many changes and trends over the years. The newest generation of brokers came into their roles knowing only online quoting and paperless enrollments. Many integrated through application program interfaces (APIs), and virtual doctor visits. No more fax machines and almost no paper! At Oscar, we now have more than 4,600 appointed brokers in California who embrace our model. That number doubled since I joined Oscar in 2018, so I am very proud that we are growing our modern broker sales force.
CB: What are your passions? What inspires you?
Lujan: I love technology and have great respect for the innovators who leverage tech and data to modernize our industry and remove the painful and inconvenient barriers to health care. I’ve worked at both startups and mature companies, and both can do cool things to help define the next generation of healthcare.
My past experience as a broker and general agent helped inform and inspire my current work at Oscar. While helping build Covered California, I also found I had a genuine passion for health policy that helped my work supporting and promoting the role of brokers as consumer advocates when the ACA was being implemented, and as CAHU President. I am pretty passionate about the role agents (and tech) play in helping bridge the gaps in health care.
CB: Do you have a life philosophy?
Luhan: Life is too short to do work that you don’t love. Be passionate about your work and never stop learning. Take time to share what you have learned throughout your career with someone who is newer and values your experience. Give back. Volunteer and support your industry associations. Work hard, but remember to be “off” and be a whole person available to your family and friends. I’m getting better at applying these values to my own life!
CB: Reading list or favorite podcasts?
Lujan: My list changes every month, but right now, I am a huge fan podcasts from TED Talks: Health, GeekWire Health Tech, Silicon Valley Insurance Accelerator’s (SVIA) InsurTech Fusion, and The Herd with Colin Herd (for my sports fix). Every health insurance professional should read An American Sickness by Elisabeth Rosenthal, and The Price We Pay – What Broke American Health Care – and How to Fix It by Dr. Martin Makary.