Things To Consider For Marketing Communications Development Under The Affordable Care Act

The Affordable Care Act has brought unprecedented transformation to managed healthcare.

Millions of Americans who could not previously afford health insurance and those who had been denied health insurance coverage because of pre-existing conditions now have access to affordable health insurance coverage.

Moving forward, there will be a continuing need to educate the uninsured on the benefits of healthcare insurance coverage. How to access the new healthcare insurance marketplaces. How to assess the offerings of competing insurance providers.

All Americans are now eligible for affordable health insurance coverage, however, premiums can vary based on age, individual vs. family enrollment, geographic area, tobacco use and income. This broad range of conditions suggests organizing principles for segmented marketing. Should types of services covered by a healthcare insurance policies vary by age, for example? Does segmented messaging offer an opportunity to communicate to prospects with greater relevance?



Beyond messaging, how do segments vary in their usage of communication channels and devices? Does channel access vary across age or income “segments”? With respect to health care insurance, do concerns over the exchange of personal information affect communication channel preferences?

Implications for Marketing Communications Development

The following five-step approach suggests important considerations for communication plan development under the Affordable Care Act.

Step 1: Establish communication benchmarks and objectives. 

Conduct research to determine levels of readiness among those who are eligible to enroll. Do they understand the health care insurance options? What are their perceptions of health care insurance brands? How do they feel about quality/price tradeoffs? Answers to questions like these will provide a framework for setting objectives and developing a communications brief.

Step 2: If you participated in 2014 Open Enrollment, determine the characteristics of those who signed up for health insurance with your company. Conducting this type of analysis involves enhancing existing customer records (referred to as first-party data) with demographic and behavioral data provided by third-party suppliers like Experian, Acxiom or Epsilon. Once the appended data sets have been created and PII data has been eliminated, scoring models are developed to identify the characteristics of “best prospects.” These scoring models are then used for pinpoint targeting of best prospects through online display and online video advertising.

Step 3: Develop a multi-platform approach for communicating across prospect groups. As discussed above, the recommended multi-platform program should be based on an understanding of channel preferences across age, income and similar characteristics.

This approach should make use of paid, owned and earned media channels. (Use local paid media to correspond to marketplace geographies.)

Use paid channels for impression-based communications. Television, online display, online video, mobile and paid search should be considered for delivery of information to broadly defined target groups. To the extent that segmented messaging is available, use online display and online video for directing messaging to corresponding target segments.

Use paid media to direct visitors to owned assets such as an owned website and to participate in conversations about healthcare insurance on social sites, such as Facebook and Twitter brand pages (referred to as earned channels). “Retarget” visitors across platforms and devices with messaging that extends the conversation from earlier site visits.

Step 4: Monitor marketing communication productivity. Which efforts most productive at driving sign-ups at a reasonable cost? Which segments most responsive?

Create marketing mix models at the marketplace and segment level to quantify the sales contribution of each communication component. Determine average ROIs at the marketplace and segment levels. Determine marginal ROIs to support investment re-allocation decisions.

Determine the need to re-balance spending to improve the risk profile for the overall insurance risk portfolio.

Step 5: Begin planning for Open Enrollment 2015

Begin to prepare prospects for the open enrollment decision process four to six weeks prior to the November 14 2014 start of Open Enrollment 2015.

For individuals eligible for “special enrollments” outside of Open Enrollment periods, maintain an “always on” approach for paid search. Use selected keywords (e.g. marriage, birth, adoption and health insurance) to anticipate the health insurance discussion and to guide these prospects through the process of accessing health insurance coverage and ultimately making the right enrollment decision.

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