The health care act signed into law by President Obama in 2010 that will implement in 2014 is forcing health-insurance companies to look outside their comfort zones in business-to-business marketing.

OptumHealth and Fitbit partnered to create an app that coaches and follows consumers. For consumers, the law guarantees health insurance and the power to choose and switch plans. However, for health insurers, the law creates heightened competition, the opportunity to find 50 million uninsured people, and a three-year window to implement bigger budgets to expand more direct-to-consumer efforts.

Industry experts believe the industry is bureaucratic, and therefore two to three years behind in DTC marketing, but companies are quickly picking up in the area. This quick pickup is causing the industry to replace its agent-driven model with a consumer-facing strategy led by direct-marketing teams, and these marketing teams will likely work to gain consumer support when the law likely creates insurance exchanges. These state run e-commerce platforms for health-insurance plans will resemble travel sites that bundle deals and packages.

Companies are creating private exchanges and retail outlets to stand out in what will certainly be a crowded environment. And companies like Aetna, which recently rebranded itself as a “health-solutions company,” are aggressively working to recreate their corporate identities. The company, and many others, are looking at their corporate history and rethinking their DTC efforts, largely through digital apps and technology, to lower consumer health risk and costs.

When OptumHealth and Fitbit, a company that sells activity monitors and pedometers partnered, they created a mobile app called “Optimize Me,” with follows and coaches consumers on the efficiency of their daily activities in places like Best Buy and Apple stores. They then connect that information back to a mobile, online, and telephone based coaching service. They take great pains to make sure the information is private, used for managing health and nothing else.


Health-Insurance Providers Seek Direct-to-Consumer Connections

To Stand Out in What Will Likely Be a Crowded Environment, Companies Are Building Private Exchanges and Retail Outlets, and Working to Differentiate Their Brands

By: Alexandra Bruell Published: February 13, 2012.

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