Insurers launch marketing blitz to lure customers


Health insurers launched a marketing blitz to lure customers as the health insurance marketplaces reopen on Nov. 15, The Wall Street Journal reports.

Consumers must sign up by Dec. 15 for coverage to begin Jan. 1. While the enrollment window went into April last year, it closes on Feb. 15, 2015, this time around.

Insurers are ramping up efforts to retain an estimated 7.3 million existing enrollees and to attract new customers who didn't purchase health insurance on the exchanges last year.

"It's a congested, competitive, confused environment," Marc Pierce, president of market research firm Stonegate Advisors, told the WSJ. "It will be more challenging this year."

Retaining customers will be a priority. A slight majority (51 percent) of customers who signed up on the exchanges last year said they won't be back, according to a recent Bankrate Health Insurance Pulse survey, FierceHealthPayer previously reported. They're concerned about prices and prolonged technical glitches after the disastrous launch of last year.

Even though insurers are required to notify customers by Nov. 15 of their new premiums, many are pushing enrollees to go back online to avoid sticker shock, even if those customers find better deals from competitors, notes the WSJ

While the CEO Kevin Counihan says he'll create "raving fans" of the site, insurers worry that the Department of Health and Human Services hasn't perfected a system for informing them when existing consumers switch plans. That could lead to customers being billed twice.

With the reworked site, new customers will experience a shorter, simpler registration process, but they can still contact insurance companies directly to figure out exactly what their plans cover.

"The exchange can't work worse than it did last year," Peter Beilenson, M.D., chief executive of Evergreen Health Co-op, an insurer in Maryland, told The New York Times, as previously reported by FierceHealthPayer. But with a new Republican majority in Congress, continued problems could fuel GOP efforts to do away with the Affordable Care Act altogether.

To learn more:
- read the WSJ article

Related Articles:
Poll: Slight majority of exchange consumers won't return for second enrollment
Glitches continue on, small business exchange
Insurers optimistic about member growth for 2015
Uninsured consumers need help with literacy skills
New site could confuse consumers seeking
Next open enrollment may be more difficult than last year
Government won't send notice when members switch insurance companies