Can Marketing Change Consumers’ Perceptions of Health Insurance?

Consumers’ attitudes toward health insurance are negative, according to a national study published in January 2013 by Lake Research Partners, using Knowledge Networks. Most people are skeptical that they would be able to find a plan that covers what they need at a price they can afford in 2014. In addition, 72 percent lacked awareness of the new insurance options available.

What can health insurance companies do to turn around this perception? Can marketing or rebranding help?

Some companies like Blue Cross and Blue Shield are taking the approach to become a resource to the consumer during this confusion. In order to authenticate this promise, its recent brand restructure is about being a health solutions company, not just an insurance company. BCBSFL launched its retail Florida Blue centers, reinforcing the ideal image of being affordable, personal and informative. Florida Blue holds free health fairs at the locations with health screenings and giveaways, and free diabetes tests on American Diabetes Association Alert Day, including a talk with a diabetes health expert.

The study also indicates consumers overwhelmingly prefer in-person help (75%) versus over the phone (33%), email (20%), or online chat (9%). Fifty-five percent of the uninsured respondents said that “Getting health insurance is too important to do on a website.” Therefore, Florida Blue is headed in the right direction by providing in-person support.

However, according to the study, when starting initial research about which insurance companies to contact most people still use a search engine like Google, Bing or Yahoo. The most likely terms they enter into a search engine are:

  • “health insurance plans/options”
  • “affordable health insurance”
  • “health insurance”

Also, they are much more likely to use the word “affordable” rather than “cheap.”

Currently, companies like Humana and BCBS are running Search Engine Marketing (SEM) programs.

With the results of this study in mind, using a combination of marketing efforts like SEM and in-person centers will potentially alleviate some of the negative perceptions.