Health Industry Begins Marketing Blitz To Educate About Obamacare
With less than three months until health plans will be offered to uninsured individuals on exchanges across the country, health care companies that stand to reap new business are launching an educational blitz.
In one of the first national campaigns announced last week, pharmacy giant Walgreen WAG +0.12% Co. (WAG) and the nation’s Blue Cross and Blue Shield plans, which include Wellpoint Inc. and its Anthem brands, have joined forces to provide key information about the Affordable Care Act including how to “access coverage and understand other changes.” The campaign includes a new web site, LearnAboutReform.com and informational brochures at Walgreens stores across the U.S.
It’s the first of a parade of educational efforts, marketing campaigns and advertising efforts expected this summer from the health care industry, which stands to reap millions of new paying customers come Jan. 1, 2014 once subsidies are available for individuals to buy private coverage from an array of health plans sold by insurers such as Aetna AET -0.84% (AET), Cigna CI -0.14% (CI), Humana HUM -0.78% (HUM), UnitedHealth Group UNH -0.53% (UNH) and Blue Cross plans. Open enrollment for individuals purchasing health coverage listed on the exchanges begins October 1 and runs for six months. Several state Medicaid programs will also be expanding benefits to more Americans as part of the health law.
Walgreen and the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association described their businesses as “trusted” leaders in providing information about health and wellness.
These companies also have incredible reach given Walgreen is the nation’s largest drugstore chain with more than 8,000 stores and the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association represents 38 independently operated Blue Cross and Blue Shield plans that already provide health insurance coverage for 100 million people in all 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. Most Blue Cross plans already are dominant providers of individual coverage in their respective regions and they are expected to be key players in the subsidized benefit packages offered to uninsured individuals.
“The Affordable Care Act will expand access to health insurance for millions of Americans and broaden health benefits, but many Americans have had little experience purchasing health coverage and are confused about what the law means to them,” said Maureen Sullivan, the Blue Cross association’s senior vice president of strategic services and chief strategy officer. “Blue Plans have been working hard to help consumers navigate this new environment and the coverage options that are available to them.”
The companies acknowledged that purchasing benefits on the exchanges could be a daunting process, particularly to those who have never had coverage before.
“There’s a lot of confusion, a lot of questions and it’ll take a tremendous, collaborative effort to make sure people have the information they need to make informed choices,” said Brad Fluegel, Walgreens senior vice president and chief strategy officer. “Walgreens is a trusted community resource for health and wellness information, and through this collaboration we hope the millions of Americans who will be entering the marketplace in October are more informed and better prepared.”
Bruce Japsen, Contributor