Why Obamacare is a marketing fail

The massive confusion about Obamacare (the Affordable Care Act) is much worse than I thought. The Kaiser Family Foundation came out with a poll that shows 42% of Americans don’t even know that Obamacare is the law. Seven percent of people think the Supreme Court struck it down and 12% think Congress repealed it.

I understand that there is confusion about the way it will work and who will be affected. But my advice to Americans is turn off the damn TV! Really, we are blessed to live in an age where information about any subject is available with the click of a mouse and people seem to know more about the Kardashians than they do about a health care law that is as important as Social Security or Medicare legislation.

I’m not surprised, however that most Americans said they don’t have enough information to understand how Obamacare will affect them. The Administration should have hired the same marketing firm that did the Super Bowl ads or even the clever ads for Dollar Shave Club. Sure, I get that health care is more complex than a Pepsi ad, but at least doctors and hospitals should have some understanding of it by now. This is a huge marketing fail so far.

According to the Washington Post, the Administration is waiting until the optimal time to roll-out the details. A public awareness campaign is slated for this summer, as open enrollment will begin in October. That seems way too late to me. Helping 30 million Americans understand that they will be buying insurance, making sure there are networks to care for these people, understanding the subsidies that most will get and understanding the various plan options is a huge undertaking and it will be here in 5 months. I would say Obamacare is in a pot of boiling water right now.

It is the private insurers (Cigna, WellPoint, Blue Cross, United Healthcare, etc.) that will have the exchange products to sell. Has anyone ever truly understood their coverage provisions when dealing with these insurance companies? Now imagine three tiers of new insurance products to choose from, with varying co-pays and pricing. Now imagine covering Americans who don’t use computers or have never really dealt with the insurance system. Now imagine different options being offered in each state.

I would say there is a lot of work to be done by the Department of Health and Human Services.

Toni Brayer is an internal medicine physician who blogs at EverythingHealth.

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