Few insurers use commercials to discuss reform

Although it may benefit insurers advertise the healthcare reform law and the new health insurance exchanges--and the plans they're selling on those online marketplaces--few insurers even talk about these topics in TV commercials, according to a recent report from Kantar Media.

Insurers as well as state and federal governments have spent about $306 million on local TV advertising since July 1, with $194 million of that total spent since the exchanges opened Oct. 1. Interestingly, though, only $55 million went toward ad spots that either explicitly or implicitly referenced the reform law, the report found.

Even among insurers with TV ads, a wide variation in marketing strategies exists. Some insurers hope to spread the word about exchanges to recruit millions of new members, while others fear the politically-charged reform law and exchanges is too controversial and unpopular.

Blue Cross Blue Shield has spent the most money in TV advertising, running dozens of different commercials across the country. Its ads try to address healthcare reform "in ways meant to unnerve, irk, amuse or reassure viewers into choosing Blue," Kantar found.

WellPoint, which operates 14 Blue plans, already has launched marketing campaigns surrounding the reform law and exchanges. "We need to not only protect our turf, but we've got to acquire our fair share of the new market that's up for grabs, because a segment of consumers are going to be looking to different sources for information," WellPoint Chief Marketing Officer Patrick Blair said, FierceHealthPayer previously reported.

In contrast, Humana has a commercial that only vaguely references reform enrollment, with a mother wondering whether her son will have health insurance if she doesn't get coverage before the deadline. Kantar noted Humana ranks fourth in TV ad spending by insurers overall since July 1.

And UnitedHealth and Cigna, the second and fifth highest TV ad spending insurers haven't talked about the reform law in one commercial.

To learn more:
- read the Kantar Media report

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