Some estimates say the US healthcare insurance industry will top $990 billion by 2023. When you think of careers in healthcare, insurance probably doesn’t leap to mind. But as the numbers show, this sector of the healthcare industry is large and growing.
As legislation changes in the US, there’s no reason to think healthcare insurance won’t grow. It’s almost a sure bet for anyone looking to start a career.
One career path you may want to pursue is that of an insurance underwriter. Our guide will cover everything you need to know, from the education you’ll need to what you can expect on the job.
What Is an Underwriter?
Before you decide insurance underwriting is the right job for you, you might need to ask some key questions. One of those might be, “What does an underwriter do?”
Many people ask this question. It’s not always clear what the roles and responsibilities of underwriters are.
One underwriting definition says it determines the risks of insuring someone or something. For example, you might need to check the risks of offering a policy to a 77-year-old woman who has diabetes.
In that situation, you would likely say the risks were quite high. It’s very likely this person will make a claim on her insurance, due to her age and her existing health condition.
By contrast, a younger person with no known health conditions is a lower risk for your company. They’re less likely to make a claim.
Determining Coverage and Policies
Once the risks are clear, the underwriter decides what coverage the applicant can get. They’ll also outline the conditions of coverage, including the premiums.
The insurance company may insure the senior woman described above. Based on the underwriter’s recommendations, they might decide to offer limited coverage. They may want to charge a higher premium as well.
All these decisions hinge on the underwriter’s assessment of the situation’s risks. In this role, you may also be asked to look for ways to reduce or eliminate risks of future claims.
The insurance underwriter is also involved when a claim is made. They assess the claim and determine what the insurance company will pay.
Finally, you might negotiate with an agent or broker. You’ll help them find ways to insure people when there are concerns or issues.
The Necessary Skills
What skills do you need for underwriting? Like almost any job, you’ll want to work on your soft skills, such as communication and problem-solving.
An insurance underwriter is also a skilled analyst with a keen eye for detail. Risk assessment and management are two other skills you must develop for this career.
Statistics and math are par for the course in this job, so you’ll want to concentrate on these areas as well. As in many other industries, technology is changing how insurance companies perform underwriting. You’ll want to hone your IT skills to keep up.
Educational Requirements for an Insurance Underwriter
Now you’re wondering how you can pursue this profession. Generally speaking, employers in this area prefer people who have college degrees.
You can become an underwriter with almost any college degree. Those who have backgrounds in accounting, finance, and economics are sometimes favored. Management and business studies are also good assets for this career path.
Certain types of insurance mean you need specialized knowledge. Healthcare is one of those areas. Medical knowledge can help you assess risks for healthcare coverage with more accuracy.
You might also need other scientific or technical training. For medical underwriting, a program in healthcare finance could be a major asset.
Specializing in the Healthcare Insurance Industry
Healthcare insurance has similarities to other types of insurance. There are also plenty of differences.
If you want to follow this career path, scientific and technical training can be useful. They can help you get into more specialized areas.
One area of specialization is medical stop-loss underwriting. Stop-loss insurance protects self-insured employers. In these cases, the employer assumes the risks associated with offering healthcare coverage.
Many self-insured employers aren’t in a position to handle catastrophic illness claims. Underwriting determines the risks by assessing individual employees and the whole group.
Hospitals, doctors, and other medical providers also have insurance needs. A good understanding of how a medical practice or hospital functions is an asset when you’re looking at risks. The needs of private practices are also different from hospitals.
The Job Outlook for Underwriters
Some people may tell you it’s not wise to pursue a career as an insurance underwriter today. Automation and artificial intelligence appear to pose a growing threat to underwriters.
Technological advances make it easier to use machines and algorithms to determine risks. They can also assess risk with more accuracy. For routine cases, robots actually appear to be better at underwriting.
There’s still a place for human beings in this vital insurance industry function. For example, AIs aren’t very good at assessing the risks associated with special cases. Since they make predictions from huge data sets, AIs have trouble with these situations.
A human touch is also needed for many routine cases. Machines may make inappropriate coverage recommendations. Human underwriters can work with clients and brokers to find better solutions.
This is especially true in the medical field, where special cases are par for the course. It’s unlikely machines will truly replace humans any time soon.
Jumpstart Your Career in Healthcare Insurance
You’ve decided becoming an insurance underwriter is the right path for you. If you want to work in medical underwriting, take the first steps by starting a healthcare administration degree program.
If you’re not convinced this job is the right one for you, there are many other avenues to explore. A career in hospital finance or healthcare informatics might be a better fit for you.
Discover more exciting career paths in healthcare administration by looking around the site. The right opportunity is waiting for you.