Hospital marketing is often a challenging prospect because healthcare providers operate in a highly regulated industry. However, in some areas, it may become even more difficult for healthcare marketers. For example, Florida recently banned health insurance companies from sending marketing materials directly to individuals who receive Medicaid benefits, The Associated Press reported. The state is currently planning to privatize health insurance for low-income and disabled residents.
Through Medicaid privatization, recipients will get a specific amount of money per month, given to insurance companies by the state. More than 3 million people will be collecting this form of benefits. Only the private insurers involved in this process are allowed to market within Florida, and this is only after receiving approval from the state, according to the article.
Historically, Florida has experienced problems with insurance marketing due to overly aggressive representatives. In 1995, the state banned door-to-door HMO marketing because regulators saw an unusually high number of people enrolling in plans they didn't need or understand. Healthcare marketers need to have a firm understanding of state-by-state regulations to ensure they stay in compliance.
Are Anti-ACA Ads Increasing Enrollments?
It's generally been understood that bad publicity can cause a decrease in sales or enrollments, but this has not been the case with negative advertising campaigns for the Affordable Care Act, The Atlantic said. In states where more money was spent on anti-ACA ad campaigns, more people actually enrolled for coverage.
The publication highlighted two main reasons for this trend.
"The first one is that with the negative ads, citizens' awareness about this subsidized service increases, and the more ads they see, the more they know that such a service exists," said Niam Yaraghi, researcher at the Brookings Institution, according to The Atlantic.
Additionally, exposure to a large number of negative ads tended to make people believe the ACA would be repealed by Congress. Since many ACA enrollees are acquiring health insurance for the first time, the campaigns made them want to take advantage of it while they still had the chance.
Examples like this highlight one of the major challenges in healthcare marketing: It's difficult to know what patients really want.
How Healthcare Marketers Can Operate Within a Strict Regulatory Environment
In any industry, it can be difficult to see a return on marketing investment and craft relevant materials for a specific target audience. However, this is even more challenging for the healthcare industry because of the regulatory framework. Marketing is becoming more data-driven than ever before, but healthcare marketers need to exercise caution when using patients' private information.
One of the biggest considerations for healthcare marketers is compliance with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996, according to Marketing Action Blog. Additionally, companies that market to Medicare- and Medicaid-eligible populations need to go beyond HIPAA and comply with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services' Medicare Marketing Guidelines. On top of that, the ACA is bringing about many changes in how Americans access healthcare.
Because of constant new developments in the field of healthcare, marketers need to stay aware of regulatory changes, the article said. In fact, the more regulations an industry has, the more frequently they may be subjected to changes. Especially because social media has become a more viable marketing channel in many business sectors, regulators are making updates quickly.
The Florida example highlights the variances in state regulations, which is an important consideration for healthcare marketers. Although technology has expanded companies' reach, they need to be sure to comply with local and federal regulations in any areas they operate in.