This excerpt taken from the EHTH 10-K filed Mar 21, 2007.
Our Platform and Services
Our ecommerce platform organizes and presents voluminous and complex health insurance information in an unbiased and objective format and empowers individuals, families and small businesses to research, analyze, compare and purchase a wide variety of health insurance products. As of December 31, 2006, we offered more than 7,000 health insurance plans from over 160 health insurance carriers, representing the largest health insurance product portfolio available online. The products we offer include major medical health insurance
coverage such as preferred provider organization, health maintenance organization and indemnity plans, short- term medical insurance, student health insurance and ancillary products such as dental, vision and life insurance.
Key elements of our platform include:
Online Rate Quoting and Comprehensive Plan Information. Our ecommerce platform instantly provides consumers online rate quotes and comprehensive plan benefit information from a large number of health insurance carriers. After entering a minimal amount of relevant information on our website, such as zip code, gender, age, smoker or non-smoker and student status, the consumer instantly receives a comprehensive list of applicable health insurance products and benefit information in an easy-to-understand format. This information includes each plans rates, benefits and features, as well as financial stability ratings of the health insurance carrier. The list also highlights sponsored plans (plans that our carriers pay us for preferred placement on our website) and our best sellers (the most popular plans in the consumers market). The consumer can sort through the quoted plans based on price, health insurance carrier, deductible amount, or search the list of quoted plans to obtain a subset based on various consumer preferences.
Plan Comparison and Recommendations. Our ecommerce platform enables consumers to compare and contrast health insurance plans in a side-by-side format based on plan characteristics such as price, plan type, deductible amount, co-payment amount and in-network and out-of-network benefits. To further assist consumers in choosing a health insurance plan that best meets their needs, our platform can provide consumers with personalized recommendations. Our automated recommendation capability presents a short series of questions and recommends up to four health insurance plans based on the consumers input.
Online Application and Enrollment Forms. Our online application process offers our consumers significant improvements over the traditional, paper-intensive application process. It employs dynamic business logic to help individuals and families complete application and enrollment forms correctly in real-time. This reduces delay resulting from application rework, a significant problem with traditional health insurance distribution, where incomplete applications are mailed back and forth between the consumer, the traditional agent and the carrier. We further simplify the enrollment process by accepting electronic signature and electronic payment from our consumers. More than 70% of our applications submitted for individual, family and short-term health insurance products in 2006 were completed using our electronic payment and signature technology.
Electronic Processing Interchange. Our Electronic Processing Interchange (EPI) technology integrates our online application process with health insurance carriers technology systems, enabling us to electronically deliver our consumers applications to health insurance carriers. This expedites the application process by eliminating manual delivery and reducing the need for data entry and human review. Through EPI, we also receive automatic alerts and data feeds from carriers, such as notification of underwriting approval or a request from a carrier for a consumers medical records for underwriting purposes, which we then relay electronically to the consumer. These features of our service help prevent applications from becoming delayed or rejected through inactivity of the consumer or the carrier. EPI accelerates the application process. While the traditional paper-intensive non-EPI application process required approximately 43 days on average from submission through us to approval during 2006, the EPI application process required approximately 17 days on average from submission to approval over the same period. One of our carriers has also implemented instant membership approval with respect to its short-term health insurance. Instant membership is a technology that makes it possible for applicants to be approved immediately upon their online submission of the application.
Customer Care Center. At any step of the application process, consumers can obtain help from one of our licensed sales and customer service representatives through email, web-based chat or our toll-free telephone number. Our customer care center, which is divided into three general areas consisting of customer care, enrollment and customer service, had over 123 employees, 77 of whom were licensed agents, as of December 31, 2006. To promote unbiased carrier and plan recommendations, our representatives are compensated irrespective of the health insurance plan we sell. Our representatives use our proprietary consumer relationship management system to provide high-quality service to a much larger number of consumers than a
local agent can service using traditional sales methods. Our system, which establishes a work queue protocol for each consumer request, enables our representatives to track each application, obtain real-time updates from the carrier, transmit information to the carrier, automatically generate and send emails specific to each consumer and carrier and cross-sell the consumer additional products and services.
We service the special needs of small businesses through our customer care center. Small businesses often do not have dedicated human resources personnel to design and administer a benefits program for their employees. To assist our small business members, we maintain a dedicated staff of small business customer service specialists. These agents are licensed in multiple jurisdictions so that, at any time, we have expertise available to small businesses in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. We also offer our small business members access to an online enrollment center so that their employees have the tools they need to better self-manage their health plan coverage. Because of the knowledge and expertise we have gained from working with hundreds of thousands of members, we believe that we offer our small business members a high level of service and expertise.