Video: Health insurance company advertises by goofing on Obamacare

posted at 7:01 pm on November 29, 2013 by Mary Katharine Ham

Say you’re a health insurer who decided not to jump into the exchanges fearing that the colossal Charlie Foxtrot about to visit itself upon the U.S. might not jibe with your branding as a company with the ability to offer a service with a modicum of competence. Say your decision turned out to be quite prescient as the federal exchange (and, to a lesser extent, state exchanges) began to implode before your eyes. Then, say you wanted to produce an ad to attract customers with a nod to your own prescience and competence as compared with the federal exchange.

Behold, the insurance schadenfreude ad, produced by Wellmark, a part of Blue Cross Blue Shield that opted out of exchanges.

“There’s More Than One Place to Buy Health Insurance”

I’m always a fan of an ad that highlights a company’s hesitance to collude with the government. It allows me to dream that perhaps, perhaps!, the idea of operating independently of the feds, without bailouts or preferential treatment or being in bed with them on regulation, might appeal to regular Americans. The moment that becomes a bonafide selling point, the market and the government will both be healthier. Ford made a commercial with a similar message in 2011 but it didn’t last long, getting pulled from rotation after the White House made a few calls. Ford maintains it was removed from the air for routine reasons.

Ed Haislmaier reads the tea leaves:

First off, the insurer, Wellmark, is the parent company of the Iowa and South Dakota Blue Cross plans. It is the largest insurer in both states. Wellmark currently accounts for 78 percent of the individual health-insurance market and 75 percent of the employer group market in Iowa. In South Dakota it has 73 percent of the individual market and 50 percent of the group market. So, this is not some marginal player, or an upstart trying to attract attention. Rather, this is an “establishment” company talking.

Second, of the 62 Blue Cross Blue Shield licensees, only three are not participating in the Obamacare exchanges in 2014, and Wellmark’s Iowa and South Dakota subsidiaries are two of those three. (The third company is Blue Cross Blue Shield of Mississippi.) Seasoned market analysts know that it is always a good idea to pay attention to what the “contrarians” are up to.

Back in mid August, an attendee at a conference of Iowa health-insurance agents told me that Wellmark had opted to stay out of the exchanges because the company did not expect—based on the way things were then going—that the exchanges would be “a positive customer experience.” Translation: Apparently Wellmark did not want to risk tarnishing its brand by associating with what was shaping up to be a disaster.

Haislmaier notes Wellmark still may get into exchanges in 2015, but is gauging its decision based on how the exchange winds blow. This ad says, “Hey, they may be trying to destroy the individual health care market with their idiocy, but we’re still here.” I wonder how many insurers might join them in the months to come.

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MeanWhile,……

Obama health care law
7m
Federal healthcare website down for overnight maintenance – @Reuters
read more on cnbc.com
=====================

canopfor on November 29, 2013 at 6:56 PM

canopfor on November 29, 2013 at 7:11 PM

..loving me some Wellmark!

The War Planner on November 29, 2013 at 7:11 PM

“Promises Matter™”

..did you see that, MKH? They TRADE MARKED THAT PHRASE.

Expect a visit form the IRS, says I.

The War Planner on November 29, 2013 at 7:14 PM

Another commercial of theirs is funnier:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y0wfL2-hS-o

Stu Gotts on November 29, 2013 at 7:16 PM

Hmmmmmmm,

The Hopey/Changey HighWay HealthCare Exchanges,
where your stuck in the ditch!!
(sarc)

canopfor on November 29, 2013 at 7:16 PM

Nice little insurance company you got there…shame if it got audited….

Wethal on November 29, 2013 at 7:17 PM

Can someone tell me what the Pine Cone stands for: http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-rxbWEA14hFk/UlA7A8BaUvI/AAAAAAAAbRQ/MCxM5ANsLI4/s1600/BITTER_CLINGER.jpg

davidk on November 29, 2013 at 7:20 PM

More, please

22044 on November 29, 2013 at 7:22 PM

Any bets that Wellmark is going to get a call from President Jarrett and told ‘nice company ya got here, be ashamed if something happened to it!’?

GarandFan on November 29, 2013 at 7:33 PM

Basically, if you make enough money not to get a subsidy, chances are you are better off going outside the “exchange”. Its probably cheaper even for a lot of people that would otherwise get a subsidy.

Count to 10 on November 29, 2013 at 7:41 PM

I am a contractor at a lesser known government agency.

That said the IT infrastructure we built is one that could compare to any private company in the world.

You could nuke all of DC in 30 seconds from now and I know my clients data would be safe and remain online.

That sort of ability is the holy grail of IT and I was very surprised I found it a a very small underfunded govt agency, when HHS spent close to 1 billion for a single website that does not work.

F15Mech on November 29, 2013 at 8:30 PM

I’m sure that the Queen of Death at HHS is “not amused”…

Khun Joe on November 29, 2013 at 8:43 PM

MeanWhile,……

Obama health care law
7m
Federal healthcare website down for overnight maintenance – @Reuters
read more on cnbc.com
=====================

canopfor on November 29, 2013 at 6:56 PM

canopfor on November 29, 2013 at 7:11 PM

.
I wasn’t aware that they had ever gotten it up (pun intended).

listens2glenn on November 29, 2013 at 9:13 PM

Ford made a commercial with a similar message in 2011 but it didn’t last long, getting pulled from rotation after the White House made a few calls. Ford maintains it was removed from the air for routine reasons.

So getting phone calls from the White House over your ad campaign is now routine?

Don’t you just looooove living in the Fascist States of America? Hey, IRS, I know I do.

rbj on November 29, 2013 at 9:51 PM

Basically, if you make enough money not to get a subsidy, chances are you are better off going outside the “exchange”. Its probably cheaper even for a lot of people that would otherwise get a subsidy.

Count to 10 on November 29, 2013 at 7:41 PM

Can we stop calling this crap subsidies? It is honest hard-working Americans being forced to pay more than they should for health insurance so some bar slut like Sandra Fluke gets free contraception. It is extortion, not subsidies.

Happy Nomad on November 29, 2013 at 10:22 PM

I think more will exit the exchanges when they start to exp what doctors do with payments from the feds… slow, many times not getting paid…..

watertown on November 29, 2013 at 10:58 PM

Where can I sign up? No way I will EVER put my information on the government website.

COgirl on November 29, 2013 at 11:20 PM

MKH. Charlie Foxtrot? Were you military before?

smoothsailing on November 30, 2013 at 1:09 AM

Where can I sign up? No way I will EVER put my information on the government website.

COgirl on November 29, 2013 at 11:20 PM

Iowa, South Dakota, or Mississippi. And judging by your screen name, it doesn’t look as if you would qualify for coverage from one of the non-participating carriers, since you’d need to be a resident of one of those states. Of course, you could always move . . . .

AZCoyote on November 30, 2013 at 8:51 AM

Not a Wellmark ad, but a good analogy for O-Care. (Trying to buy coffee instead of health insurance/care. I think I’m going to remember it whenever I go into a coffee shop.)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pCb9g8plGF8

Kevin K. on November 30, 2013 at 10:28 AM

Going off topic a bit. I think it’s the after effects of Thanksgiving Day.

-snip–

That sort of ability is the holy grail of IT and I was very surprised I found it a a very small underfunded govt agency, when HHS spent close to 1 billion for a single website that does not work.

F15Mech on November 29, 2013 at 8:30 PM

The above is an example of why we can’t condemn entire departments or the heavy hand of the federal government in toto: There are pieces of the government that actually do provide good service and do what they’re supposed to within the bounds of common sense, the law, and the Constitution. And even though we condemn federal workers and contractors for being lazy and greedy, there is a significant majority who want to do good work for the Country–and do–and didn’t join the government just to have non-fire-able employment. (The trick is to join the good programs with the good people. One can hope.)

Kevin K. on November 30, 2013 at 10:37 AM

Kevin K. on November 30, 2013 at 10:37 AM

I can’t condemn most other agencies however.

No other agency has the RTO/RPO we built hell neither do most private companies.

I am so confident in my DR/HA plans that someone setting off a nuke in DC is no longer a concern. My clients data will survive.

Yet HHS can not keep a website online.

F15Mech on December 2, 2013 at 10:23 PM