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.

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