Health Insurance Underwriter Salary and Job Description

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A health insurance underwriter is like an insurance provider’s shield. They decide the risk of insuring an applicant. The wrong decision could create added expenses or legal issues, so the underwriter’s position carries significant weight in the coverage process.

When pursuing the underwriter career path, an aspiring professional should know the advantages of an education crafted to help give them a competitive edge. Maryville University’s online Master of Health Administration is one such program, designed to prepare students with knowledge in not only underwriting but also the broader healthcare arena.

Anyone interested in becoming a health insurance underwriter may want to learn about the skills they’ll need to develop, as well as the health insurance underwriter salary trends and job outlook.

Health insurance underwriter consulting with an agent in an office.

What Does a Health Insurance Underwriter Do?

A health insurance underwriter reviews, renews, and analyzes applications for insurance coverage. Assisted by underwriting software and related computer programs, they assess the risk involved in insuring an individual or company, as well as determine the premiums for the expected coverage requested. A health insurance underwriter’s responsibilities include:

  • Reviewing all new applications and inserting specific information (e.g., income, expenses, and health details) from those applications into underwriting software
  • Assessing each applicant’s medical history and establishing if they have any preexisting conditions
  • Analyzing the recommendations provided by the software for each application
  • Deciding whether to approve applications
  • If an application is approved, determining the extent of the coverage and calculating the premium based on the applicant’s risk assessment
  • Consulting with the agents or insurance processors about the final decision

Ultimately, the underwriter decides whether to offer an applicant the requested insurance based on the available information, aided by recommendations provided by underwriting software. If the risk seems too great, they can deny the application. However, underwriters also need to maintain balance in their assessments, as their ability to make accurate and firm assessments is important to the consistency of the insurer’s bottom line. If they allow too much risk, the insurance company may pay out more claims than necessary, but if too many applications are denied, the company won’t make enough money off premiums.

What Skills Does a Health Insurance Underwriter Need?

Generally, health insurance underwriters succeed through a combination of strong attention to detail, an understanding of company policy and industry standards, a tactful sense of organization, and a vested sense of why legal adherence is important for all involved parties, not just the company. Working on computers and using risk assessment software is also an integral part of the job, so insurance underwriters need a good command of technology.

Underwriters are liaisons between company agents, supervisors, and representatives. They outline why an application might not meet the recommended criteria for qualification, as well as how to potentially optimize applications for approval. This means they need strong written and verbal communication skills.

Health Insurance Underwriter Salary and Job Outlook

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median annual salary of a health insurance underwriter was $71,790 as of May 2020. However, the highest-paid underwriters brought in substantially more, earning more than $129,550. There’s less than $10,000 deviation between the highest- and lowest-paying industries, with credit intermediation boasting the highest median annual salary at $76,790.

While advancements in underwriting software are reducing the need for certain manual underwriting tasks, skilled underwriters are still needed to review and update the criteria that govern underwriting automation, so individuals with a background in finance, analytical skills, and computer proficiency may have more competitive capabilities to leverage on the job market.

A Rewarding Career in Healthcare

The health insurance underwriter role is a critical piece of any healthcare provider’s processes. As a primary defense against possible legal retaliation, they must hold a nuanced understanding of healthcare and how to analyze formal documents.

Maryville University’s online Master of Health Administration can help prepare aspiring underwriters to fit into the healthcare industry and thrive. With the knowledge gained through courses such as Healthcare Operations, Strategic Healthcare Management, and Health Policy and Economics, you can feel confidently equipped to pursue a career as a healthcare underwriter and beyond.

Discover more about the program’s curriculum, which is designed to fuel your success in pursuing an administrative healthcare career. 

Recommended Reading

Actuary vs. Underwriter: Using Math to Manage Risk

How to Start a Healthcare Business: The Ultimate Guide

Predictive Analytics in Insurance: Types, Tools, and the Future

Sources

The Balance Careers, “What Does an Insurance Underwriter Do?”

The Hartford, “Why Underwriters and Claims Specialists Are Important”

Investopedia, “Is Insurance Underwriting Right for You?”

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Insurance Underwriters

Verywellhealth, “What Is Medical Underwriting?”