Interesting article in Advertising Age about health insurance providers and a stronger link to consumers. Pay attention folks, consumer voice will be bigger than ever with the implementation of the Affordable Care Act. This is a trend worth tracking for those of us who are focused on improving the array of funded services and supports for young people with mental health challenges and their families.

From the article in Advertising Age...
The affordable care act that President Obama signed into law in 2010 slated for full implementation in 2014 is forcing health-insurance companies outside their comfort zone of business-to-business marketing. For consumers, the law guarantees health insurance and more power to choose and switch plans. For health insurers, it means heightened competition, an opportunity to tap 50 million uninsured people, and a three-year window to implement bigger budgets to develop more direct-to-consumer efforts.

"The insurance industry, as is typical to a bureaucratic industry, is probably two to three years behind the curve [on DTC marketing], but there's a lot of quick pickup by companies," said Lindsay Resnick, CMO of KBM Group Health Services, a WPP direct-marketing shop.

This "quick pickup" is causing the industry to replace its agent-driven model with a consumer-facing strategy led by direct-marketing teams, Mr. Resnick said. And these marketing teams will work to gain consumer support when the law creates, among other things, insurance exchanges. Mr. Resnick likened the state-run e-commerce platforms for health-insurance plans to travel sites that compile deals and packages.

To stand out in what will likely be a crowded environment, companies are building private exchanges and retail outlets. And insurers such as Aetna, which recently rebranded itself as a "health-solutions company," are aggressively working to differentiate their corporate brands.

Read the full article here.

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