Why Your Healthcare System Must Market the Affordable Care Act

If your healthcare system isn’t “selling” the Affordable Care Act to your customer base, it’s a little late in the game but you still have nearly two months until the March 31 deadline to get with the program. The $64,000 question: Why would you want to recommend your organization and your staff market the Affordable Care Act, knowing the initial rollout on healthcare.gov was very shaky at best?

Justifying the effort shouldn’t be the problem, especially if you’re looking at the bottom line: The huge price tag for uncompensated care your hospital system currently provides for free.

American hospitals have given away more than $400 BILLION in uncompensated care since 2000, according to the most recent data compiled by the American Hospital Association (AHA). Although the number of American hospitals has declined by 15 percent over the 32-year span of the study (1980-2012), uncompensated care costs have grown exponentially, rising to nearly $46 BILLION, or 6.1 percent of total expenses in 2012.

Lowering uncompensated health costs

For organizations like Genesis Health System, enrolling thousands of Iowans for ACA coverage will make a sizable dent in the $60 million it absorbs annually in uncompensated costs. Or, for public health systems like those in New York City serving big numbers of low-income patients, selling coverage via the Affordable Care Act has the benefit of widening their customer base, and cutting into debt.

Offering health insurance via the Affordable Care Act is a better solution than the alternative: Attempting to collect payments from sick patients in the emergency rooms of hospitals, as one bill collecting agency tried to do.

Marketing on the fly isn’t working

Some of the strategies currently being used by hospitals are straight out of the guerrilla marketing playbook, punctuated by boots-on-the-ground tactics like community outreach at churches, soup kitchens, health fairs and daycare centers and papering high-traffic areas with brochures and card tents.

Other hospitals are working with outside partners on outreach programs to target customers who are frequently admitted to help them sign up for insurance coverage.

Marketing the Affordable Care Act the smart way

Unfortunately, those tactics are superficial band-aids that live or die depending on whomever is delivering the information at that precise moment. What healthcare systems really need are solid marketing strategies that produce measurable, consistent and lasting results.

For example, have you announced your healthcare system’s ACA plans with attention-grabbing, promoted posts decorated with eye-catching images on popular social media platforms, like Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest?

Your marketing plan will earn a gold star and attract many more eyeballs, however, if those social media posts feature links, not directly to healthcare.gov, but a living page on your website that explains the Affordable Care Act clearly and simply before sending them to providers who can help them sign up for coverage.

For all the good community outreach they are doing to promote the Affordable Care Act, Genesis Health System has taken the extra steps to get the most mileage out of their promotional efforts with a continuing series of Facebook posts and a section of their website devoted to answering the many questions new enrollees may have about health insurance coverage simply, easily and on their schedule.

These online tactics are so important for one very important reason: Some experts believe consumers really don’t understand the value proposition health insurance provides beyond price. All the more reason service, convenience and solid communication vehicles – good components of a solid promotional strategy for healthcare entities – matter.

If your brand needs help marketing the Affordable Care Act the smart way, feel free to give us a call.

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Written by Wayne Beamer

A writer with a 20-year career, Wayne Beamer is responsible for esd’s Content Development. Wayne works with healthcare clients to deliver blogging, social media, white papers, and more. Wayne brings extensive experience with the Cancer Treatment Centers of America, AOL, Affiliated Computer Services and Mercola.com. His experience as a freelance writer for a broad spectrum of industries gives him an unmatched expertise.

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