Marketplace Open Enrollment Today: Tips for Insurance Organizations in Today's Consumer-Directed Healthcare Marketplace

Today marks the first day of open enrollment for the Affordable Care Act’s marketplace, an online platform where consumers can digitally shop, compare and purchase health insurance based on their needs and budget. For insurance providers nationwide, it represents an opportunity to market to these prospective buyers and grow their business. It’s a big change for an industry accustomed to traditional B-to-B marketing. Suddenly, insurance organizations find themselves as direct-to-consumer marketers. And that market opportunity is poised to grow as the industry continues to undergo changes. 

Yesterday, at the Health2.0 Conference in Santa Clara, Calif., we announced the results of a nationwide survey on consumer awareness and understanding of the new healthcare law and marketplace. Overall, consumer awareness and understanding is pretty low. Below are a few key takeaways from the survey. The full results can be found here

  • 64% say they have “no” or only “a little bit” of knowledge on the marketplaces
  • 56% said they did not know before taking the survey that the government may pay a portion of insurance for those who qualify 
  • Almost 60% of those surveyed, that have insurance, report they “don’t know” how the law will affect them 
  • 53% of those without insurance “don’t know” how it will affect them. 
  • 65% of those surveyed say technology is empowering them “a great deal” or “somewhat” for health and wellness needs
  • 1 in 4 surveyed goes online or uses their mobile device more than once a week for health and wellness information
  • A majority (51%) reports either wanting to access their health records digitally or already doing so



By now, most insurers, as well as the government, have been executing direct-to-consumer marketing strategies. And those will only increase this fall. But, clearly, there’s much work to be done. Below are five simple yet true principles that every insurer should apply now—with a focus on reaching the right “targeted” audiences. 

1. KISS: Yes, the old adage – “Keep It Simple, Stupid.” I realize that might be a challenge for a piece of legislation that’s over 1,000 pages, but it must be attempted. Remember, people are already intimidated by insurance. These sweeping new changes only amplify those feelings. So try to simplify things the best you can. Make your communications straight-forward, concise and honest. Take a look at your marketing materials, advertising, sales sheets and talking points—is it time to make changes to KISS? 

2. Provide Value, Education & Expertise: Don’t merely sell but provide consumers something of value and show your expertise. Everything you do should be focused, first, on education and providing value to consumers about our healthcare changes and what it means to them. Create free educational – yet entertaining – online videos to share. Host town halls and events at targeted gyms, restaurants and watering holes that provide freebies to entice attendance. Create interactive, traveling exhibits that frequent key events and locations. 

3. Have a Retail Pharmacy Presence: People still frequent retail stores and pharmacies. In fact, Booz & Company notes the average consumer visits retail grocery and drugstores 2.2 times per week. What a great real-world chance to connect. Retailers today offer many opportunities to interact with consumers either through mobile applications, rewards programs or in-store consumer health kiosks. Identify areas within retail to align your brand with engaged consumers.

4. Create a Facebook Presence: So most organizations by now have a Facebook page. But how strong of a consumer asset is it? Seventy-three percent of online adults use social media sites, with Facebook leading the way. Ninety percent of all purchases are subject to social influence. That’s all you need to know about why you need a vibrant, valuable and engaging Facebook presence. Start building your community by providing content of value. Content and context is king. Is yours up to par? (Hint: Take No. 2 above and apply it here.)

5. Consumer at the Center: Completely re-think the old way of viewing the consumer. Your goal should be to create relationships with them. To do that, you must put them at the center of everything you do. They must be your top priority. Learn as much as you can about them—data, data, data. Tailor to their needs. Make them feel unique. This is as important in the “pre-sale” stages as it is after they become your customer. Remember they are interacting across many platforms—mobile, digital, email, text, in-store, out-of-home and much more. Listen, learn, and personalize an incredible customer experience for them—across all touch points.

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