Facebook is the latest large tech player to enter the health insurance market with its own product. This follows Amazon announcing a similar scheme for its own staff in October 2019 and hints at a wider trend, as tech companies with vast access to data and younger consumers look to provide tailored healthcare and threaten insurance providers. However, consumer trust appears to be the biggest obstacle.
Facebook’s Preventative Health specifically targets cancer, heart disease, and the flu and focuses on prevention. It gives information on local flu jabs as well as relevant tests for heart and cancer warning signs via its mobile app. It also offers suggestions on suitable cholesterol and blood pressure levels as well as healthy eating and exercise tips.
The issue for Facebook will be whether consumers trust the company with personal health information, given its issues surrounding the use and sharing of personal data. Although Facebook will take key data such as age and sex from users’ existing profiles, it would then learn medical information on what procedures and appointments users are booking.
GlobalData’s 2019 UK Insurance Consumer Survey responses suggest that Facebook will have trouble convincing consumers to use it for life insurance products. When asked “If Facebook was to offer life insurance would you buy from them?” only 2.2% of consumers said they would. Similar competitors Amazon and Google also received low scores, but at 5.1% and 6.1% respectively they were still over twice as popular as Facebook.
To counter this and help boost its credibility in the health space, Facebook has partnered with a range of respected organisations. The American Heart Association, the American Cancer Society, the American College of Cardiology, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are all involved in the product.
While Facebook will need to improve its public image to make Preventative Health a success, its direct access to over 200 million monthly users in the US gives it an enormous advantage over traditional health insurers. Facebook, Google, and Amazon entering the health insurance market with simple, digital offerings undoubtedly represents a disruptive threat to insurers.