Though the Affordable Care Act was signed into law in 2010, it’s still making daily headlines. On either side of the aisle, it creates fodder for debate; from conservatives, who view it as an affront to capitalism, to staunch liberals who claim it doesn’t do enough to live up to its name.
No matter how you spin it, the Affordable Care Act has made a profound effect on the state of health care in this country. Since its inception, an estimated 16.4 previously uninsured Americans now have access to health care coverage, thanks in part to expansion of programs like Medicaid and CHIP. Of the users who enroll in the marketplace, 80% can receive coverage for fewer than $100 a month, after federal subsidies and tax credits. In the long term, proponents of the act hope that switching from a locus of treatment to one of prevention will drive down health costs even further.
The implementation timeline for ACA continues through 2022. As it becomes larger in scope, one group of people that will continue to be affected by ACA provisions is healthcare marketers. From an evolving targeting audience to increased potential for data utilization, healthcare marketers can benefit from the Affordable Care Act by using the right strategies.
A Switch to Highly Targeted Messaging
One of the Affordable Care Act’s main selling points is that it puts the power back into the hands of the consumer. With the healthcare exchange and marketplace, potential buyers can comb through different plans, and select that works best for them based on their amount of subsidy and desired extent of coverage. People who were previously beholden to employer plans now have the option of determining if what their workplace is offering is actually best for them.
For the first time ever, health care is now a commodity driven almost entirely by customers. Insurance companies and hospitals alike will have to compete fiercely to retain the most consumers. As the market floods with potential buyers, healthcare marketers will have to be ready to sell a well-defined brand to potential clients. Name recognition in a field where branding was previously of little concern will set the successful companies apart from the unsuccessful ones.
Setting yourself apart from the competition will be a two part process, one that involves retaining your current customers and eliciting new ones. Incentives and tailored messages will continue to be driving forces in healthcare marketing through the PPACA implementation timeline.
Give It a Try: Consider offering small monetary incentives, like gift cards, in exchange for compliance with medications and effective disease management. Offering to pay for all or part of a gym membership can also set you apart from the crowd.
Attention To Data Analytics Skills
Tracking your user data will be a valuable tool as ACA provisions go into full effect. Examining demographic information can help you tap into your core audience, allowing you to adjust your marketing strategy as you see fit.
Likely, one of the demographics to watch will be millennials. As they become too old to remain on their parents’ insurance, they’ll flood the marketplace in search of insurance that meet their financial and health needs. These individuals are generally healthy and not very wealthy, so they will be more likely to be drawn to catastrophic and other lower tier plans. Since they are young and free of major health complications, they will also be one of the most competitive niches for healthcare marketers.
Data can help sort through which of these individuals are more likely to purchase a plan, rather than pay a penalty. This can help narrow a large field of candidates to one in which you can create targeting messaging.
Finally, using data can help you fine-tune your SEO. Search Engine Optimization is hardly new; yet some companies still shy away from using it due to its technological bias. However, the right SEO strategy can separate the winners from the losers in the new healthcare game. The Google Keyword Tool is a good place to gain general insight about the popularity of keywords. Once you have an idea of common keywords that people use to find your healthcare service, use them in a long-tail keyword search to optimize your site traffic.
A Focus on Simplicity
In the coming years, the market will flood with users that were previously uninsured or that were previously insured under another’s policy. When it comes to content strategy, simplicity will be the key moving forward. Think of your content strategy as providing Health Care 101. The focus should be on providing access to basic information in friendly terms: in-network vs. out-of-network coverage, handling of prescriptions, and limitations of the policy should be at the top of the list.
The Department of Health and Human Services estimates that over a third of new consumers seeking insurance will be Hispanic and/or with limited English capacity. As a result, cultural competency and knowledge of multicultural communications will be a driving force to retain this new, desirable demographic group.
Though the Affordable Care Act presents challenge to healthcare marketers, it also has the potential to drive demand for your company’s unique product or services. By developing a recognizable brand, tailoring messaging by using demographic data and SEO, and keeping your content strategy simple, you can reap the benefits that ACA is poised to offer. As long as you continually review your digital goals, you can enroll new health consumers through 2016 and beyond.