US Insights

Extent of ACA-driven ad spend coming into view

Elizabeth Wilner

US Editor

Public Affairs Policy 03.26.2014 / 20:00

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$90M jolt by health insurers helps land insurance in top 10 for spending

The nation's health insurers spent close to $90 million more on advertising during the fourth quarter of 2013 than they spent during the fourth quarter of the previous year, according to Kantar Media's annual review of all measured-media advertising.

After dropping $352.7 million on ads from October through December 2012, health insurers shelled out $439.4 million during the same stretch in 2013.

Not all of the $86.7 million increase necessarily went toward health insurers' Affordable Care Act-driven enrollment push, given key Medicare deadlines that also loomed. Still, the bulk of the increase most certainly did fund efforts to enroll Americans in health insurance plans, according to Jon Swallen, chief research officer for Kantar Media in North America. The burst of spending also lifted health insurers' total 2013 ad spend by 10.7% over 2012, from $733 million to $811.3 million.

Kantar Media's definition of health insurer advertising includes medical, prescription drug and Medicare supplement insurance, as well as advertising promoting enrollment by state exchanges and the federal government; it excludes advertising for dental and disability insurance, as well as ACA "navigator" organizations.

The first quarter of 2014 should provide a clearer picture of the impact of the law on health insurer advertising, Swallen said. Without Medicare enrollment, "There's less competing noise in the marketplace in Q1, so the ACA's contribution to category spending will be much more definitive." A functioning website, the end of the winter holidays and any heightened activity in the run-up to the March 31 enrollment deadline could serve to drive first-quarter spending upward. Health insurer ad spending for the first three months of 2013 amounted to $89.5 million.

And in a further ripple effect of the ACA enrollment push, the insurance industry overall landed in the ranks of the 10 highest-spending sectors for advertising in 2013, the first time this has happened in recent memory. Typically, the insurance category ranks just outside the top 10, Swallen said.

Insurers spent $5.3 billion on advertising last year, up from $4.9 billion in 2012. At 8.1%, the roughly $400 million increase was the second-largest year-over-year increase of any top-10 sector after telecom, which spent about $800 million more in 2013 for a YOY increase of 8.2%.

Source: Kantar Media

Editor's Notes

Journalists, for inquiries about the data, contact us. For the entire Kantar Media US advertising expenditure report (health insurer advertising data not included), click here.

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