Payers must reach millennials for ACA to work

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Grant Johnson
Grant Johnson

Grant Johnson
CEO, Johnson Direct

With dramatic changes taking place in healthcare due to the Affordable Care Act (ACA), insurers must identify and reach the right mix of subscribers. Now is the time for them to invest in introducing and differentiating their brand among the younger and healthier people who will pay premiums without making claims, letting the system function by balancing out older, less healthy consumers that are costly for insurance companies to cover.

Since plans can't turn away consumers based on age, health history or demographic status, this subscriber mix can't be managed within the health exchanges themselves. Instead, it must be influenced through brand positioning and marketing.

By promoting the brand to the desired audience, insurance companies increase their odds of capturing the right mix of the pool of 45 million new subscribers. Given the target audience (millennials and other young consumers), digital is critical.

Successful digital campaigns depend on three elements—reach, accuracy and privacy compliance—and healthcare marketing is no exception.

Traditional targeting cookies will no longer cut it. With browser cookies expiring faster than ever, users opting-out of cookie-based tracking, and the fact that cookies largely don't work on mobile, only 30% to 40% of the market has an active cookie and is reachable using this approach.

The ability to reach people is important but the ability to reach your exact target is critical. Insurance marketers need a targeting model that allows them to make sophisticated assessments, combining and weighting multiple factors to find the individuals that best fit their needs.

Finally, privacy is always a concern when it comes to using data for online targeting—another reason why cookies don't work. As we seek to help healthcare clients reach their ideal audience, they need an approach that never tracks a specific individual but can still provide the specificity required.

To meet these needs for our clients, we turned to Semcasting, an outfit which reaches audiences through so-called SmartZones—neighborhood level segments defined through multiple variables and reached by targeting internet delivery points. Targeting is done on a neighborhood, not individual, level, avoiding privacy concerns.

We've already seen a number of payers devoting more focus and resources to targeted digital communications, and I suspect this will only increase as they compete to capture the largest slice of new audiences.

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