2

Marketing Obamacare to the masses

Obamacare supporters react to the U.S. Supreme Court decision to uphold President Obama's health care law, on June 28, 2012 in Washington, D.C.

Now that the Affordable Care Act is full speed ahead, millions of Americans will begin buying health insurance the way they buy everything else.

James Repp with AvMed Health Plans in Miami says, “You’ll now have the ability to pick a specific product that is really geared and designed and built around the specific needs that you have.”

Come January 14th, as many as 30 million new customers will be up for grabs. And insurance companies who can close the deal stand to make billions of dollars. So cue the makeover and marketing blitz.

Repp says the industry needs to change its image as penny-pinching, and cold hearted into something more…trustworthy.  

“There’s definitely an opportunity to play more of an advocate role, or trusted advisor role,” he says.

Kind of like those old E.F. Hutton commercials: When E.F. Hutton talks, people listen. You know, a calm hand in a crazy health care world.

One of the biggest marketing efforts will be aimed at African-American and Latinos who are among the least insured. But that’s not going to be easy.

“There’s an acknowledgement by insurance companies and health care providers alike that they don’t know what to do,” says David Morse with New American Dimensions, a multi-cultural market research company in Los Angeles. “They don’t know how to reach these people.”

Morse says people of color are likely to appear in more ads. And more ads -- lots more ads -- will start showing up in early next year.

About the author

Dan Gorenstein is the senior reporter for Marketplace’s Health Desk. You can follow him on Twitter @dmgorenstein.
Log in to post2 Comments

One of my key interest as a corporate anthropologist is two-fold: (1) Helping White Americans Transition into Becoming a “Minority” in the U.S. and (2) Helping White Americans Transition into Becoming the New U.S. Minority in Clinical Research, Medical Care and Healthcare. The U.S. Census indicates that from July 2010 to July 2011, 50.4 percent of the children born in the U.S. were of color or “minorities”. This last 2012 presidential election and the multiethnic and multiracial rainbow coalition created, points to the long-standing and permanent demographic shift for the U.S.

In the case of developing generalizable knowledge that improves human health or increases understanding of human biology, which is the goal of clinical research, researchers must understand that the fundamental basis of the historical concept of “general” in “generalizable” shifts with the demographic changes. In the case of insurance companies and healthcare providers, they must contend with the customers and leaders within their own ranks that do not understand how to market to customers that prior to the Affordable Care Act (ACA) would have simply been “written off” as not worth insuring.

For instance, several insurers and deliverers of health care in Upstate New York, which is over 80 per cent White, are resistant to the inclusion of media of color in their plans for outreach. For some companies, they are downright arrogant. Yet, in the final analysis, if their plan for outreach and inclusion is primarily “in-house” i.e., White and Eurocentrically-oriented, the marketing to the communities of color will be sparse, culturally incompetent and to a great degree, insulting to the populations needed to make the health exchanges successful. Therefore, the most difficult aspect of the transition is not the outreach – those pathways are available – but rather, curbing the arrogance and superiority mindset which prevails in the ranks of White executives accustomed to peripheralizing both people of color and sadly, they’re ideas and self-knowledge.

One of my key interest as a corporate anthropologist is two-fold: (1) Helping White Americans Transition into Becoming a “Minority” in the U.S. and (2) Helping White Americans Transition into Becoming the New U.S. Minority in Clinical Research, Medical Care and Healthcare. The U.S. Census indicates that from July 2010 to July 2011, 50.4 percent of the children born in the U.S. were of color or “minorities”. This last 2012 presidential election and the multiethnic and multiracial rainbow coalition created, points to the long-standing and permanent demographic shift for the U.S.

In the case of developing generalizable knowledge that improves human health or increases understanding of human biology, which is the goal of clinical research, researchers must understand that the fundamental basis of the historical concept of “general” in “generalizable” shifts with the demographic changes. In the case of insurance companies and healthcare providers, they must contend with the customers and leaders within their own ranks that do not understand how to market to customers that prior to the Affordable Care Act (ACA) would have simply been “written off” as not worth insuring.

For instance, several insurers and deliverers of health care in Upstate New York, which is over 80 per cent White, are resistant to the inclusion of media of color in their plans for outreach. For some companies, they are downright arrogant. Yet, in the final analysis, if their plan for outreach and inclusion is primarily “in-house” i.e., White and Eurocentrically-oriented, the marketing to the communities of color will be sparse, culturally incompetent and to a great degree, insulting to the populations needed to make the health exchanges successful. Therefore, the most difficult aspect of the transition is not the outreach – those pathways are available – but rather, curbing the arrogance and superiority mindset which prevails in the ranks of White executives accustomed to peripheralizing both people of color and sadly, they’re ideas and self-knowledge.

With Generous Support From...