Obamacare needs more marketing

As we witness yet another Democratic Healthcare effort going down in defeat, it seems to me Dems once again failed to MARKET the new healthcare legislation to the Joe Plumbers of middle America.
Consumer marketing 101 – people don’t want to feel stupid when comfronted with a purchase/conversion decision. And Democrat policy wonks always cast healthcare legislation in a complex, numbers oriented way that makes the average person’s eyes glaze over. We don’t want to know nor care if the total amount of health care bill is $852 Billion or $823 Billion. Or whether the coverage is 93% of Americans or 91%. The entire debate became about TOTAL COST of the bill, not about what it means to average Americans at an individual level.

What does it do for me, the average American who has some form of employer-based coverage? Most probably realize Healthcare is too expensive – premiums rising every year, actual Dr bills are outrageous – $4000/night hospital stays, or heard of relatives who went bankrupt due to medical bills. And that the whole employer based system requires one to be employed, which everyone knows now is not so guaranteed. So why hasn’t anyone tapped into this fear/uncertainty in marketing the new healtcare legislation?

And why hasn’t someone from the Dems side come up with a simple slogan like “Decent Health coverage for anyone who wants it for $100/month”. It doesn’t even have to be completely true (you can always pass additional legislation to help the poor, the illegals, abortion issue, etc.)
But a simple core idea like that can be appealing even to those with insurance, because it offers assurance that even if I lose my job, I can still afford some type of care – and this is not at all emphasized in the debate.
Like Hillarycare, Obamacare was run by too many Health Economists and Budget Directors (Peter Orzag should never have been the face of Healthcare), and not by Marketeers, who could’ve packaged & sold this more effectively.

27 Responses to “Obamacare needs more marketing”

  1. Chad says:

    You should post more on your blog, I always enjoy reading what you have to say. I am going to assume, for the purposes of my reply that you are being completely serious and not at all ironic in your post. If that is not the case I apologize for the lengthy reply.

    I would challenge first, your premise that the bills in the House and Senate were health care bills at all, let alone the right solution. I would, instead, assert that the bills are a massive power grab by of the Federal government. If “health care for all” was the actual goal, the path looks a lot different than what was laid out in these bills.
    Setting that aside for the moment…

    This is a Total Cost issue, but not completely in the monetary sense. I don’t think bad marketing was the problem; I think it’s deeper than that.

    1. A Brand problem.
    The US Government has a massive brand problem. Many people (in increasing numbers) equate the federal government with dishonesty, bloat, impediment, disconnectedness, and to a very large extent they are correct.

    2. A Marketing Savvy Generation
    As a society we are becoming much more sensitive to people selling, marketing, spinning and lying to us. At the first sign of deceit, many of us go into overdrive looking anywhere we can to find the truth.

    3. The Bills Themselves
    I’ve read the available iterations of the bills several times (yes that is a lot of reading). I don’t have a law degree, but I missed any real solutions to the stated problems. Unlike me, most people aren’t likely to read legislation. That being said, in my day to day discussions with people I was SHOCKED how many (HOW MANY OR HOW FEW?) people had read all or part of the legislation, and could cite whole passages, and articulate their concerns.

    I think we can all agree that 2000+ page bills that congress themselves are not reading (by their own admission) aren’t the most effective way to govern.

    4. Total avoidance of common sense steps
    Here are some common sense steps we might take before scrapping the entire system and starting over.
    - Limiting Liability of Doctors to reduce liability insurance cost
    - Allowing competition between doctors
    - Allowing people to pay doctors directly for care
    - Streamlining Medicare and Medicaid processes
    - Removal of inter-state restrictions on health insurance to increase competition
    - Moratorium on taxes on health care and health related products through the supply chain
    - “Catastrophic Care” options and paying standard doctor visits out of pocket.
    - Personal choice “End of Life” care options, not government controlled.
    - Provide charity options and incentives for Health Care providers to provide CARE (note CARE, not INSURANCE) at low or no cost to the individual.
    - Transparency of cost to expose to people what they are paying and where the money is going.
    Total fix? No. GREAT first steps? Yes.

    5. Obvious Acquisition of Power by Federal Government
    Since Woodrow Wilson we have seen the Federal government grow, expand its reach and fail miserably most of the time. Under Bush the media drew a lot of attention to things like the patriot bill, showing how it infringes on our liberty in the name of security. So when we see legislation come through that even SOUNDS a LITTLE like it may infringe on our liberty we balk.

    It became apparent that we weren’t getting Big Government fighting Big Business, but rather Big Government becoming Bigger Government and ALSO becoming Big Business. And the left has done a good job a demonizing Big Business. I think the effort to project the problem on to Capitalism/The Free Market and make that the new demon really FELT like the socialism it was. Despite the best efforts of Liberals, Hollywood, and the Media, the majority of Americans have a positive view of the free market.

    Many people thought “If I don’t like the control that my insurance provider has over my choices, do I want the government to have that power instead?” The answer, I think, is a resounding “No. I want to have it myself.”

    6. Demonization Fatigue
    I think that many people are just “over” the constant demonization of various sectors of business. Damn near everyone’s sector has been blamed for the woes of America. Setting them at odds with much of the working class, trying to demonize health care providers, doctors, nurses, and insurance companies was a huge misstep. They were at once demonizing them and claiming their support.

    7a.Support of Doctors Exaggerated
    Many of the nurses and doctors in and around my circle of friends, took one look at this thing and said “Oh S***, hell no.”

    7b. Support of Elderly Exaggerated
    While they had AARP’s endorsement, AARP lost membership when they endorsed this monstrosity.

    8. Health CARE vs. Health INSURANCE
    The bills marketed as Health CARE bills. More people were behind that concept, but when it was revealed that Health Insurance was going to be the heart of it, it lost massive support. Health care is responsible for a large sector of our economy. Talk about stepping on some toes.

    9. Happy with Insurance
    The majority of Americans were satisfied or very satisfied with their health care benefits, so when they talk about the “uninsured” it doesn’t hit home for most people.

    10. Jobs?
    Our intelligence WAS insulted when we were told that job creation was going to come from this bill. If so… we are talking about new bureaucracy jobs.

    11. Numbers
    I will agree with you on the numbers, but here is the thing… many of them were just made up… And they SOUNDED made up… and they were changing constantly. However, I think the debate WAS about what it meant to average Americans at an individual level, and many people came to the same conclusion. Loss of individual liberty, increased cost, NOT carrying insurance becomes a crime, and the problem deepens and worsens instead of getting solved.

    12. False Urgency
    This issue has been flagged as “urgent” every time it is brought up. The left is the little boy who cried wolf. Even if it is urgent that we solve the cost issue, by all indicators these bills would have increased costs. Like much Big Government legislation, it was chock full of “unintentional” costs.

    13. Conservative Voice and Ascendency
    Let us not underestimate the fact that the majority of American’s are self-identified as having a conservative ideology. Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, and Fox News are all posting record ratings as people look for a life raft of sanity in a world that seems to contradict what they and the people around them understand to be true.

    The tea parties were downplayed by the media, but trust me when I tell you, the movement is massive, grass roots, loose knit, and massively effective at getting conservatives mobilized. The left has had the advantage in the past due to the outward inaction of conservatives. This has to do with the strong individualistic nature of the conservative, their work ethic and focus on family. While the values have not changed, the level of action has, and the left can’t count on that advantage any more.

    Free speech on the airwaves and internet is going to be an ongoing problem for this agenda.

    14. Core Conservative Ideology
    We “Joe the Plumbers” out here in middle America NEVER want a bigger, stronger, federal government. We believe that a large centralized federal government always leads to tyranny and totalitarianism. Putting the health and welfare of our families in the hands of the government will never sit right with us no matter the marketing.

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