Thanks, Cigna, for telling me to “pay no attention to the tiny people judging [me],” thanks for reminding me I’m one of a kind and “unclassifiable” and admitting how awesome I am, because I am. Psychologists like Jean Twenge have told me I’m a member of the narcissist generation, which I sometimes resent.
But thanks to the self-help psychology trend of the 1970s, my parents and teachers have been fueling my awesomeness since I was a toddler, and suddenly delusions of grandeur became the new norm. Its legacy? Facebook and ironic t-shirts. On that note, your ‘Go You’ campaign doesn’t feel hip to me.
Given that the Supreme Court gave the ACA’s individual mandate its constitutional gusto, it’s not particularly shocking to see insurers embrace a little more populism, targeting a wider range of clients with consumer-friendly pivoting schemes and in some cases, large-scale rebranding strategies.
After all, the individual mandate represents an expanded market, so I wouldn’t be surprised if insurance companies take to channels like Groupon to peddle digital goodies like Aetna’s tool to compare out-of-pocket expenses.
In vying for the public’s attention, insurers feel the pressure to connect with people. Suddenly, brands like Cigna and Aetna are engrossed in social media and Humana is trying to live up to its name, with an approach CEO Michael B. McCallister loosely describes as “honest, aware and bold.”
Among them is a program that incentivizes healthy decision-making, where users redeem points accrued for electronics, clothing or travel.
Agreed, these are bold moves for one of the most disliked industries in the United States. But they come off as a last-minute scramble to any healthcare skeptic, a sort of Hail Mary pass into a membranous legislative end zone full of so much uncertainty, it’s like they’ve taken a page out of some 20-year-old’s early stage tech startup’s playbook.
Then again, when you have the money to fund an image rehash, why not?
Companies in other industries have been forced to adapt to social and legislative changes in the past – Pepsi spent $1 million on a logo alone to keep up with a more tech-savvy generation and BP dropped $211 million in 2008 to revamp its image in an effort to look more environmentally friendly.
It’s tough to sweep images of corporate bureaucracy and coverage refusal under the rug, but it was Thomas Jefferson that believed “money, not morality, is the principle commerce of civilized nations.” Therefore, it’s expected that WPP’s Kantar Media reported a $122 million increase in medical and dental insurance advertising spending from 2010 to 2011.
This unceremonious shift to the positive side of public opinion heralds more rash efforts, as is the case with the insurance company division formerly known as Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Florida.
The newly minted Florida Blue features a more homey script for their logo as part of a change that VP of brand development and marketing communications Mark Lee believes will “help us strengthen our position as we enter new markets and solidify ourselves as a health solutions company.”
“Health solutions” is the key phrase here. With an estimated 3.1 million additional Floridians entering the individual health insurance market by 2014, companies like Florida Blue are disassociating themselves from the reviled “insurer” label, and even experimenting with retail approaches.
Belinda Lang, head of brand and consumer marketing at Aetna, echoed these sentiments when Aetna announced it was continuing its evolution “from insurance carrier to a health solutions company.”
“The end consumer is who we need to focus on,” said Lang.
With that said, revamping one’s image isn’t wholly unreasonable. Old Spice magnificently rebranded itself, lifting its image from passé aftershave to bastion of masculinity and taste among management-level professionals. However, more expensive fragrances are trickier to remove from expensive sports coats.
Speaking as someone who has been declined multiple times by medical insurance companies – and am now insured for the first time in my adult life – I want to see changes that go beyond bold typefaces and warmer colors on brochures.
If auto and homeowners’ insurances provide coverage against unforeseen disasters, I expect my health insurance plan to cover me against risk in the event of some unforeseeable circumstance, not try to manage my medical care.
Modern health insurance writes checks to providers based on services rendered. Reimbursement for losses are nowhere in sight, because the amount it pays is based on how much we consume.
There are 50.7 million uninsured Americans – that’s more than the population of our northern neighbor. Crafting ads worthy of an Urban Outfitters tee isn’t enough to make me a believer. Those only cost me $20 dollars at most.