Despite the many glitches, hitches, mistakes, and malfunctions still plaguing the rollout of President Obama’s crowning legislative achievement, the fact of the matter is that millions of Americans — whether they were individually insured and kicked off of their current plans, or dropped by their employers, or were simply uninsured beforehand — are at some point going to have to use the healthcare exchanges to purchase insurance plans, or else pay the penalty imposed upon them by the individual mandate. That means that there are millions of potential insurance customers ready for the taking, and insurers are beginning to ramp up their efforts to scoop them up. The WSJ reports that the advertising wars between insurers are only just beginning, with companies on target to cumulatively spend twice as much in 2014 as they did in all of 2012:
Insurers such as WellPoint are capitalizing on an unprecedented opportunity in a shifting health-care market. Some seven million Americans are expected to buy health coverage on the new consumer exchanges, where people can compare insurance plans side by side. …
The coming blitz of insurance ads will be a step up from an already heated-up marketing push. Health insurers, state-run exchanges and the federal government spent $194 million on ad buys with local TV stations between Oct. 1 and Nov. 10, according to Kantar Media, which tracks insurance advertising. That isn’t far below the $216 million spent by insurers in all of 2012, according to an analysis of the Kantar Media data done by TVB, a trade association for local commercial broadcasters.
The enrollment surge has compelled some insurers to snap up TV ad time, said Scott Roskowski, director of business development at TVB. “It’s already very noticeable that the December pace has begun to pick up” with insurer advertising, Mr. Roskowski said.
TVB projects that insurers will spend about $500 million on ads on local TV stations in 2014.
Insurance companies have largely been holding off on running through their ad budgets during these past couple months of logistical disaster, but with the federal exchange site eking out painstaking improvements and the initial deadline for coverage coming in hot on December 23rd, they’re starting to get the promotional campaigns going again. The target of many of these incoming advertisements will, of course, be young people — those oh-so-coveted healthier, less pricey participants who will help to balance out the heightened costs of the new, riskier insurance pools. Should be fun, right?