US Insights

Health insurers coming around

Geoffrey Pereira

Senior Analyst, CMAG

Policy 11.10.2015 / 20:35

insurer advertising

Kantar Media CMAG sees an increase in insurer spending on ads positively describing healthcare reform

US health insurers are investing more in television ads that describe healthcare reform in a positive way during the start of 2015 open enrollment than they had spent on positive ads during the same period in 2014.

During the first month of open enrollment under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) in 2014, Kantar Media CMAG monitored $3.2 million in insurance industry ads in favor of the ACA - though the lion's share of that came from referral hotlines and state-sponsored healthcare exchanges. For that same time period this year, we can already report $4.3 million in pro-ACA advertising, an increase of more than $1 million. 

Since the start of the implementation of ACA's provisions, CMAG has monitored health insurance advertising with a particular focus on how the industry is reacting to a government-mandated restructuring of their business model, essentially turning for-profit corporations into public utilities.

What we discovered up to this point is that so far, for the most part, insurers have been agnostic on the law in their ads, either staying mum about government regulation or acknowledging the ACA as a fait accompli. Aside from a few well-publicized shots fired by Blue Cross's Wellmark affiliate about's shortcomings, and their North Carolina affiliate opining on the ACA's failure to deal with rising healthcare costs, the industry had been hesitant to advocate policy.

What have been more common are ads coming out in favorof the law's provisions. The primary difference maker for this open enrollment period is the $1.1 million that has come from a private insurer, Blue Cross Blue Shield. Its messaging has highlighted the positive statistics of people who received government subsidies in the wake of ACA. The Blue's Florida affiliate has even used the colloquial "Obamacare" approvingly in one of their ads. 

Source: Kantar Media

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