Health care in America is undergoing its most significant change in decades due to the Affordable Care Act and the opening of health insurance marketplaces or “exchanges” in many states.
The amount of information (and misinformation) available to potential customers is mind-boggling. Many people who are eligible for coverage — some for the first time in their lives — are not aware of the benefits available to them. Young adults, a key audience whose participation is vital for the exchanges to function, have little to no understanding of the benefits and legal responsibilities associated with their participation in the program.
Since the exchanges opened for online business on October 1, most of the marketplace websites have experienced serious technical problems — most notably HealthCare.gov, the federal health insurance exchange that will serve people in states that have not created their own marketplace.
Our team has been watching the various players in the new health insurance landscape,specifically in the state of California. We’ve kept our eye on CoveredCA, the California health care exchange; individual insurers; aggregators; and third party services like Enroll America to see how well they are communicating with the thousands of customers they hope to attract.
We are looking at each entity’s presence in natural search, paid placement and social media to see who is doing the best job at cutting through the clutter of media messaging and political posturing, and making real, valuable connections with potential customers. We have also been tracking the performance of Minnesota’s own health insurance exchange – MNSure – to learn how local residents are using the new marketplace.
Last November, Google published “Health of a Nation” as part of its Think Insights program and made the following observation: “It’s not enough for insurers to make themselves known to customers; they have to prove that in a crowded marketplace they’re the ones who can provide the best service and solution. They’ve got 12 months in which to build a distinctive brand and prove its relevance to the consumer. Digital marketing provides the quickest, most effective way of doing that. It’s a big ask for an industry not known for its brand building and digital marketing activities, but for the companies that get it right, the rewards will more than repay the effort.”
In our upcoming BUZZ event, we’ll provide a scorecard to illustrate which California companies “got it right” and which have some work to do. We’ll also provide insight on what to expect from the exchanges and individual insurers in the months leading up to the Open Enrollment deadline of March 31, 2014 in terms of natural search, paid search and social. Stay tuned!