Healthcare Marketing in the Obamacare Era – Introduction

With the first phase of the Affordable Care Act going into effect, healthcare marketers have dedicated more than a year preparing for these changes. These modifications don’t just involve the way healthcare organizations will have to advertise, but marketers must also find new ground in how they garner customers.

The table below provides a brief outline of the changes to individual and employer-based healthcare . This shift in approved practices for healthcare will test marketers in how they deal with the public.


Changes under the Affordable Care Act

Employer-Based Healthcare Individual Healthcare
  • Employers with 50 or more employees must provide a minimum standard of healthcare
  • Small employers have the option to pay for some of their employees’ cost of healthcare
  • Insurers cannot deny healthcare on the basis of pre-existing conditions
  • Insurers cannot increase cost of healthcare on the basis of pre-existing conditions
  • Adults can stay under their parents’ healthcare plan until the age of 26


As expected, there are companies that have come to the realization that the risk is too high to take on a large influx of individual healthcare plans. Less than two weeks apart, Aetna and UnitedHealth decided to terminate their individual health care plans in California. Citing a limited market, these two companies did not find an investment with individual health care beneficial since they both have a large share of the employer-based insurance market. They also did not see any benefit in opting into California’s state run market, which proposed low insurance rates for individual plans than expected. Companies are having to weigh not only whether or not they want to participate in individual health care in general, but if they do, which states are completely off the table.

Undoubtedly, these provisions pose obstacles for marketers. They must change their practices to become customer-based. The transition from volume-based to value-based is one that will test healthcare companies and force them to weigh whether participation in some markets is feasible. This transition will also test marketers’ abilities in attracting the correct people to stay cost-effective. Effective targeting is integral in attracting new customers in a pool of 40 million people who currently do not have health insurance. Healthcare marketing that will not only entail attracting a new population of individuals, but promotions that target the RIGHT set of individuals.