What brokers can learn from President Obama

A lot of us in the insurance industry have been critical, and rightfully so, of certain parts of the Affordable Care Act as well as the administration’s rollout of the new law and the federal marketplace site.

But in-between all of the fumbles, the Obama administration has squeezed in a few good plays. It is true that enrollment to this point is lower than originally anticipated, but they’re not far off – 5 million people have enrolled through the federal or state exchanges in the 4 1/2 months that the Healthcare.gov website has been functional. And the percentage of young adults who are purchasing coverage is starting to increase.

With that said, here are three things that agents can learn from President Obama’s recent actions:

#1 Be Funny. People respond well to humor. Insurance, by nature, isn’t fun, and that’s part of the reason people dread dealing with it. So make it fun. President Obama has certainly been working on that recently, as evidenced by his Funny or Die “Between Two Ferns” interview with Zach Galifianakis. If you haven’t seen it yet, you should.

#2 Use Social Media. Not only is the President using humor to promote his healthcare law, he’s doing so in a way that will actually get the attention of young people – the group the administration really wants to reach through its marketing efforts. The Obama campaign successfully used social media to target young adults in both presidential elections, and now the administration’s doing the same thing to promote the healthcare law. Funny or Die is now the number one source of referrals to Healthcare.gov.

#3 Explain insurance in non-insurance terms. This is critical. People don’t understand insurance and really have no concept of what it costs, so the President has started to relate the premiums to other bills that people have to pay. As the President explains in a recent WebMD interview with Lisa Zamosky, after the tax credits health insurance “may end up costing less than your cable bill or your cell phone bill.” This gives people a frame of reference and helps them realize that something as important as health insurance really can be affordable.

Brokers who can successfully incorporate these three strategies into their marketing efforts are likely to attract a lot more attention than those who don’t.

What the administration can learn from brokers

Of course, the administration hasn’t done everything right, not by a long shot. For one, they keep changing the rules, making it difficult for employers and individuals to plan. Employers are pretty resilient, and with their broker’s assistance, they’ll figure out the strategy that’s best for them and their employees, but they have to know the rules of the game first.

Brokers have also figured out that people want options. Yes, Healthcare.gov and the state exchange sites can be good for people who qualify for a subsidy, but not everyone qualifies. That’s why a private exchange is a better option – it can offer exchange-based and non-exchange based health plans as well as a number of voluntary and supplemental products, and visitors have access to licensed insurance professionals who can answer their questions and make sure they’re able to pick a plan that’s right for them and their family.

Finally, the administration is ignoring the fact that, whether they’re required to or not, employers who offer group health coverage could actually be hurting their employees. Brokers who are armed with a tool like the Insight Catalyst Report (ICR) from HPA can help employers analyze all of their options and make the best decision for their companies.

Our advice: Watch what the government’s doing – they’re actually doing a few things that you might want to incorporate into your marketing efforts. But make sure you have the right tools to help your clients make an informed decision and help employees enroll in qualified coverage. To learn how to do that, please consider attending one of our free webinars.

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