While public health care policy and the factors that influence consumer preference and purchasing decisions about health insurance are rapidly shifting, the 2012 Harris Poll EquiTrend (EQ) study finds that brand equity remains strong among the top-ranked health insurers.
According to a release, EQ is an annual study that measures the perceptions of 38,500+ American consumers about more than 1,500 lifestyle, product, and service brands.
As the 2014 deadline inches closer for implementation of a number of the health insurance reforms in the federal Accountable Care Act, brand equity has become an important new battleground for health insurers. Health insurers are preparing to compete in new ways to attract a growing number of consumers, who are playing a more influential role in their own health insurance decisions.
"The definition of consumer is 'one that consumes'," says
The evolving importance of consumers requires that insurers understand how their customers make health care choices and what expectations they will have of their health insurers, both when choosing a health plan and, importantly, when choosing to remain with a health plan. Richman notes, "Consumer behavior in health care is beginning to mirror how consumers behave when making other purchasing decisions, whether for consumer goods or financial services. Consumers are evaluating brand equity, user experience, convenience, and product or service value."
Among the ten competitive brands included in the 2012 Harris Poll EquiTrend study,
"Brand reputation is now one of the key criteria when selecting a health plan--this is especially important in a market where benefits and costs may be similar, which will definitely be the case in an insurance-exchange environment. Those companies with strong brand equity will be well-positioned to take advantage of such market changes and successfully differentiate themselves among competitors," Richman concludes.
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