Will Reluctant States End Up Embracing the Health Reform?

By Martha C. Rivera, Director of Strategy and Insights Likely, everybody in the country has heard something about the fierce battle that surrounded health care reform. Lawsuits, Supreme Court appeals, federal funding rejections and prohibiting implementation via state laws of one or several of the ACA components were highly visible happenings repeatedly seen since the signing of the law, in March, 2010. As the deadline to execute one of the most comprehensive components of the ACA in terms of the size of the population to be covered —the state’s Health Exchanges should be up to speed for enroll on October 1, 2013— a main discussion point remains unclear: would the ACA implementation ever be general across the entire country? An aspect to keep in mind when attempting to provide an answer is that the ACA is a multiple-component law where some components do not have deadlines or are subjected to federal-based execution instead of state-based. Four basic ACA components are Medicare, Small Business Exchanges, Individual Insurance Health Exchanges and Medicaid Expansion. The Federal government started implementing the ACA Medicare component, which focuses on closing the Medicare Part D donut hole by 2015, through important reductions of the cost of drugs to Medicare beneficiaries or rebates. The Small Business Exchanges deadline, which is to be implemented by each state, was recently postponed throughout 2015. The Medicaid Expansion, another state-based component, has been rejected in only 4 states, while the remaining are either considering their decision or moving forward within early implementation stages. The State Individual Exchanges remain a highly visible state-based component that has been rejected by an important number of states. As of May 28, 2013, 24 states including Washington D.C. are moving forward with setting up their exchanges either independently or through various forms of partnerships with the federal government level, while 27 states remain opposed to the reform and consequently their population qualifying for individual insurance will need to enroll through a sort of federally run macro-exchange. Nobody can solidly predict whether...

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TV and Digital Communications in the Era of Health Insurance Branding

By Martha C. Rivera, Director of Strategy and Insights With the support of Nicha Ruchirawat, Junior Executive At a moment when U.S. health insurance companies must have already realized that the Obamacare reform imposes serious marketing efforts from their part to effectively engage health insurance audiences, a key question is what could be the two most effective media channels to communicate their brand messages to new, prospective health insurance enrollees. As an estimated 42% of the currently uninsured who are eligible for individual health care exchanges are from the multicultural segment, understanding their media consumption patterns seems critical. TV is one important channel to keep in mind. According to Nielsen’s report on “The State of the African-American Consumer,” and “The Hispanic Market Imperative,” African Americans and Hispanics spend 213 hours per month and 126 hours per month watching TV, respectively. Additionally, “on the go” communication channels are going to play a highly effective role. In fact, research shows that 33% African Americans and 60% Hispanics households own Smartphones. They tend to use their mobile phones for emailing, accessing internet, social networking and downloading media. “Multicultural advertisements calls for sensitivities to the differences in media consumption behaviors among different cultural groups,” said George L. San Jose, president and chief creative officer at The San Jose Group. “For health insurance companies, aligning media consumption behavior with marketing campaigns is the key to targeting the multicultural audience and wining consumers most affected by the healthcare reform.” The differences in behaviors and trends between the cultural groups and the general market need to be taken into account. Following media trends within the multicultural segment is essential for health insurance brands to reach out to their potential new customers arising from the health...

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The Importance of Health Insurance Branding in the ACA Era Part 2

By Martha C. Rivera, Director of Strategy and Insights with the support of Nicha Ruchirawat, Junior Executive Employers are not going to be health insurance companies’ main targets anymore for marketing and communications platforms. State health exchanges will provide consumers with freedom to independently browse the health plans that best fit their needs. This shifts the decision-making power regarding health insurance purchases into the hands of individual consumers. Thus, to remain competitive, branding efforts of health insurance companies should become more consumer-centric. Many health insurance companies are redefining their brands’ strategies to appeal to these individual consumers in order to retain market share. “The shift from employer-focused branding to consumer-centric approach is only a small component in health insurers’ efforts to remain competitive,” said George L. San Jose, president and chief creative officer at The San Jose Group. “The more important aspect is ensuring communications that target the right segment. The majority of the uninsured comes from the multicultural segment. About 43% of the uninsured affected most directly say they are unaware of the reform. Therefore, it is essential to reach out to these consumers.” Health-related companies can expect changes in insurer’s brand efforts to effectively engage individuals trough traditional and digital media channels. Health insurance companies are running out of time to gain the preference of insurance individual shoppers based on brand recognition, loyalty, and emotional...

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The Importance of Health Insurance Branding in the ACA Era

By Martha C. Rivera, Director of Strategy and Insights A nomadic, empowered health insurance shopper could be an unexpected result from the health care reform. Until now, the biggest portion (70%)* of the health insurance policy holders in the U.S. had obtained insurance from their employers, with little to no say on which carrier to choose. The portion of insured people who had bought their policies as individuals, and consequently had chosen their own insurance company, was much smaller (7%). Under the ACA, analysts expect that this portion will significantly increase, as eligible consumers will select their health plans from various carrier choices that will be available at the state exchanges. What could that mean in terms of loyalty towards health insurance brands? It is easy to predict that, upon gaining familiarity with the new system to purchase individual health insurance, consumers would become aware of the fact that they are now entitled to switch carriers by their own decision. Many people who previously had no health insurance, or never had an opportunity to select their insurance company themselves before, will suddenly be in position to select which logo they’d like to see in their insurance cards. “The freedom of choice is a beautiful thing. The health care category is going to become as competitive as the property and consumer insurance segment,” said George L. San Jose, president and chief creative officer at The San Jose Group. “Quality care, branding and customer service are factors that will acquire new and greater importance within the health care market.” Source: Employment-base Health Insurance 2010. U.S. Census Bureau, February...

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Planning for 2014: Don’t Do it for the Multiculturals, Do it for the Money

Decision makers always want to know how to get the biggest ROI from multicultural markets, and that answer is simple:  if brands truly invest— allocating time, money and assets to the effort—the market will provide them the biggest return. With the summer speeding by and companies finalizing their planning strategies for 2014, considering how to allocate budget dollars towards multicultural efforts is good food for thought. More and more brands are acknowledging the ever-growing multicultural consumer presence in this country. When the 2010 US Census was published, minorities made up 35% of the national population (with Hispanics making up 16.7% of the US population). As many companies have already noticed, this particular population growth translates directly to the consumer market. In 2012, for example, the estimated purchasing power of Hispanics was $1.2 trillion. This number is expected to reach $1.5 trillion in 2015. Those who plan to invest can tap into that enormous spending power. “Don’t treat multicultural efforts like the middle child, paying attention to it after you’ve spent time with the other kids and when it’s only convenient for you,” says George L. San Jose, president and chief creative officer at The San Jose Group. “In order to win the multicultural dollar, brands have to plan to invest in the market as well as follow through with that plan. Otherwise, those consumers will fall through the cracks just like the forgotten middle child.” Hispanics and other minority groups such as African Americans and Asians will not be minorities for long, a fact that renders the decision to allocate a significant portion of a brand’s budget toward multicultural efforts very wise, if not necessary. In recent years, many companies have taken advantage of this opportunity by increasing multicultural spending and creating campaigns geared toward minority consumers. The results, overall, have proved successful. One notable example of a successful multicultural marketing strategy comes from Walmart. In 2012, the world’s largest retail corporation announced plans to double its multicultural ad spending as part of a...

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