The Trump ACA Plan Marketing Blueprint
Yesterday, the Trump administration announced plans to lengthen “short-term” health insurance policies to 12 months from the maximum of three months allowed now. The plan seemed to include target audiences and possible marketing messages for insurers like UnitedHealthcare, which ABC News reported yesterday is interested.
The plans, which provide fewer benefits for lower premiums, may mean the plan purchaser will still have to pay a federal fine for not meeting coverage requirements, the proposed rule says. (Opens as a PDF) The fine is something UnitedHealthcare already notifies consumers may be possible with this type of insurance coverage in the disclaimer on its site.
Target Audience: The Healthy
By process of elimination, these lower-cost plans may appeal more to healthy individuals.
NBC News notes this of the proposed rule’s requirements of insurers: “Unlike the ACA's plans, they are not required to cover pre-existing conditions, cover specific treatments or provide unlimited benefits.”
"What we see right now is that there are healthy people sitting on the sidelines without coverage, and this is an opportunity to provide them with coverage," said Seema Verma, head of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, which also administers the Obama-era health law.
Target Audience: The Unemployed
The proposed rule says those who buy short-term coverage include the unemployed as well as those not yet covered by employer-based insurance.
The UnitedHealthcare site says the underwriter it purchased in 2003 and still uses to vet applicants, Golden Rule Insurance Company, has offered short-term policies for 30 years. This unemployed and uninsured employed group is just one segment of its target audience. Others interested in short-term insurance include those in the next subhead, as well as consumers: Waiting for your ACA coverage to start, looking for coverage to bridge you to Medicare, turning 26 and coming off your parent's insurance (perhaps see “The Healthy” subhead) and healthy and under 65 (again, “The Healthy” subhead).
Underwriters tend to find ways to reduce costs for the insurer and can exclude pre-existing conditions from coverage, among other decisions.
Target Audience: The In-Betweeners
The proposed rule talks about Americans who don’t qualify for healthcare subsidies and says how big this segment is and gives a heads up on insurer competition when healthcare marketers enter this space:
“While individuals who qualify for premium tax credits are largely insulated from significant premium increases (that is, the government, and thus federal taxpayers, largely bear the cost of the higher premiums), individuals who are not eligible for subsidies are particularly harmed by increased premiums in the individual market due to a lack of other, more affordable alternative coverage options.
Based on CMS data on Exchange plan selections and data compiled from issuer regulatory filings at the State level, for the first quarters of 2016 and 2017, the number of off-Exchange and unsubsidized enrollees with individual market coverage fell by nearly 2 million, representing an almost 25 percent decrease.
Further, in 2018, about 26 percent of enrollees (living in 52 percent of counties) have access to just one insurer in the Exchange. Short-term, limited-duration insurance has become increasingly attractive to some individuals as premiums have escalated for PPACA-compliant plans and affordable choices in the individual market have dwindled.”
The overall message from the administration appears to be to tell consumers the plans are less expensive.
(Competitors may enlist opponents who say it’s only the premiums that will be less expensive, not the overall costs.)
The Hill reports “three ranking Democrats” released a statement opposed to the longer “short-term” plans:
“Widespread marketing of these bare bones, junk plans will further destabilize health insurance markets, and will lead to higher premiums for everyone,” the statement continues. “The American people want access to high-quality, affordable health insurance, and it is time for the Trump Administration to stop its relentless and destructive campaign to sabotage the Affordable Care Act.”
What do you think, marketers?
Please respond in the comments section below.
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