Medical Health & Insurance
for Health Insurance Marketing Strategies
In this issue, the Focus section takes a look at global pandemic trends that are threatening the lives of people around the world and how these impact the medicine, healthcare and insurance industries. Additionally, insurers are required to adapt their marketing strategies for medical insurance products to consumer behaviour for greater effectiveness and reach. We also professional medical perspectives about the challenges the medical profession experiences with insurers with regards to insurance claims.
Marketing strategies should adapt to consumer behaviour to more effectively reach the consumers. Consumer behaviour involves services and ideas as well as tangible products. Nowadays, there are many choices of health insurance products, just as there are with smart phones. But consumers can categorise their smart phones options into tangible dimensions, such as screen size, display resolution, camera quality, battery life, and many other features they understand.
The consumers can line up options and compare area of coverage, co-insurance, deductibles, annual limits, life time limits, and many other health insurance product features, too. But choosing health insurance isn’t as exciting as getting a new smart phone. Often the consumers find difficulties to understand the insurance plan options, policy exclusions, financial risks, and underwriting requirements. Marketing health insurance should give more visualisation of use of the insurance product features, in particular the features that could readily benefit consumers if they act on it. For example, giving reward points to offset insurance premiums when consumers spend for less fat, less sugar foods, or when diabetic consumers control their blood sugar levels within acceptable thresholds.
Limitations in consumer knowledge or information processing abilities influence decisions and marketing outcome. Getting consumers’ attention is what marketing campaigns generally aim to achieve. But to effectively convert it into product sales, the campaigns must get the ideas across to consumers. It is important to be able to demonstrate benefits of health insurance product features for consumers throughout their life journeys, starting right when they buy the product (e.g. with customer friendly underwriting), when consumers are in their active life (e.g. everyday rewards for healthy behaviours), when they need medical care (e.g. personalised service assistance), when they are in recovery stages (e.g. special benefits to encourage speed recoveries), and so on. In most cases, consumers would only remember about their health insurance when they receive notices about their health insurance policy renewals and when they need to submit their medical claims. In between the two occasions, there is no meaningful engagement with them. The “no engagement time” is usually the time when the consumers are most likely in their healthy active life stages. This period could be filled in with productive engagements with the consumers to keep the health insurance products visible and relevant in their life journeys. For example, prompting regular reminders to use wellness benefits if covered by the insurance products, providing quarterly news updates on preferred panel medical facilities with special offers for insured members, sending calendar of upcoming health programmes in town, and so forth. Making the best use of new technology could help to keep the product relevant to technology savvy consumers. Most of the time the technology based communication platform is used to respond to consumer’s feedbacks. It will be a better use of the technology if it could facilitate pro-active and interactive engagements with consumers. For example, publishing short stories about bad and good consumers’ experiences with medical claims, promoting consumer’s access to an online self health risk assessment tool, and rewarding eligible consumers with better insurance terms, health points, etc. Similar communication could also be established through other forms of social media to reach a broader consumer base such as health talks on TV/radio and fitness
programmes sponsored by health insurance to promote healthy life style. The cycle of information through such interactive communication channels can also feedback into improvements and ideation for new product enhancement/development. Marketing success is delivered with a mix of marketing strategies, not solely relying on one. Like in the football industry, Manchester United Football Club’s marketing mix comprises of many ingredients, not only playing and winning in an exciting way, but also merchandising such as the sale of shirts, and a range of memorabilia, having its own range of sales media (e.g. TV programme, radio programme, etc.), engaging in a range of joint promotional activities, for example with insurance company ING, and positioning or repositioning its product within a market targeting younger consumers or older consumers, etc. The innovation must be done systematically with a good visualisation of consumer behaviours. The phenomenal success of the Korean wave in the world entertainment industry gives a good lesson about this. The Korean wave has been a blessing for South Korea, both economically and culturally. It is significantly contributing to the country’s economic growth, and helping to build and sustain awareness of Korea and bolster the country's image. Such a phenomenal marketing success is achieved through planning, training, and management of their future activities. They have created a system of nurturing artists according to individual characteristics and market needs. Before a marketing strategy can be developed and articulated, a lot of background work has to be completed including situational/data/market analyses, stakeholder inputs, customer segmentation and value propositions. When a health insurance product would require individual medical underwriting, the underwriting process might not be effective to screen consumers and determine the right risks in the market where non-disclosure rates are generally very high. Rather than wasting time and resources to go through that risk screening process, the product should be designed and priced to take higher risk of high antiselection balanced with greater ease of member acquisition with very simplified underwriting or no medical underwriting requirements aiming to quickly achieve a viable critical mass of member base coupled with policies and processes to manage pre-existing condition claims. If customer segments could be clearly defined, then health insurance products designed and priced for each consumer segment could be offered on a pre-approved basis with minimal underwriting requirements and instant policy issuance. The ultimate goal here is to market the product better and faster than competitors. These two illustrations exemplify a marketing strategy designed with an understanding of particular market situations and with calculated risk taking to delight consumers. As with Formula One racing cars, a perfect coordination of accelerating, braking and cornering wins the race. Similarly, the innovative marketing strategies for health insurance products needs to be coordinated and balanced according to market circumstances and consumer behaviours. The thinking that innovation for health insurance marketing strategies has to be a rarefied skill is flawed. Innovation must make common sense to get the product ideas across to consumers and to bring the product value propositions into their daily life experience.