healthcare health insurance

By Peter Hajinian, Creative

If I hear “eat a salad” from my health insurance company one more time I’m going to mail them all the lettuce that’s rotting in my fridge. But if my doctor says it, I’m going to go out and buy some fresh veggies to chop up and toss in there.

My doctor knows my medical history, he knows my resting heart rate, he’s seen me naked. But you know what? If he tells me I need to cut back on cheeseburgers and try to hit the gym 12 times a month, I’m going to try and make that happen. And, hey, if I get $20 off my gym membership while I’m at it, then I’m just going to like my doctor even more.

Sure, my insurance company is providing a necessity. But the truth is it’s really easy to see them as a necessary evil. I can’t really shop around. I can’t really choose something different. I can’t even tell you exactly what a co-insurance is after having one for five years. But every time I go to my doctor, I’m totally happy he’s getting my insurance money. It’s the best relationship I have with the healthcare system.

So here’s a crazy idea: what if we could buy health insurance through our doctor?

Think about it.

It’s basically having a doctor on retainer.

“Just in case” is something we all think about when it comes to insurance. “Just in case” we get hurt and we’re on vacation. “Just in case” we catch a horrible flu, or worse. “Just in case” we don’t land that triple lindy. In any of these cases, we want to know our doctor is going to be there to take care of us, or at least talking to whoever’s getting us back on our feet. Are we willing to pay a monthly fee for that? I am.

We’d take preventive suggestions.

Why should our insurance company keep sending us postcards about getting flu shots and eating healthier? Insurance is already a necessary evil, and now it’s giving us a bunch of things we need to try and pack into our already busy life? Of course we should do all those things, but how often do we follow through with their suggestions? But we listen when our doctor suggests something, because we know he’s thinking about us as a human being and not just a name and number on an insurance card.

It helps us understand the value of what we’re paying for.

We know our doctor dedicated a lot of time, money and energy to become the health expert he or she is, so we’re more likely to be happy to pay for their expertise than to fork over all that money to an administrator at an insurance company. After all, we trust our doctors because we chose them.

Insurance as an employer benefit is archaic.

Health insurance is an expensive, abstract product that most employers use as a benefit to attract employees. That’s how the system is setup right now, but wouldn’t it be better if we knew we could keep our doctor because they’re the ones selling me the insurance? It’d be our choice, Then employers could attract employees with benefits like longer vacations and free soda water.

Plus, insurance companies could do this RIGHT NOW.

Our health insurance already knows who our doctor is—they pay those bills. They could easily start sending us reminders and information on enrollment options through our doctor’s office instead of their faceless corporate headquarters. Doing that might be enough to shift our perception about health insurance, and with insurance companies buying care networks, it could become even easier.

All of this reminds me that it’s time to pick up some vegetables to put in my salad tonight. I’ve got my yearly checkup coming up in a few weeks, and I want to pay for some good news.

When it comes to healthcare brands, it is a delicate balance between being aspirational and being authentic.

by Mike Cronin, VP, Creative Director

“What our brand needs,” says the brand manager, advancing the PowerPoint to a dramatic grand finale, “is to be aspirational.”

“Yes,” the marketing team nods vehemently around the conference table, “That’s it!”

Raise your hand if you’ve heard this one before.

For a healthcare brand being aspirational feels like a no-brainer. We want to radiate health and happiness. We want to build a positive association with consumers. We want our creative work to show happy, healthy people doing happy, healthy things and generally looking happy and healthy.

But be careful.

Why? Because there’s this other word we marketers like to throw around that’s just as important. Authenticity. And we like to use it for good reason. Authenticity leads to credibility and credibility is a powerful motivator for the healthcare consumer.

But if being aspirational means presenting an ideal version of reality your audience aspires to, and if being authentic is about being transparent and real, how are we to bring these two somewhat opposing ideas together in our creative executions?

That’s the aspiration trap.

Let’s face it, the healthcare industry is seen by many consumers as opaque and frustrating. Few people aspire to visit a doctor or sign up for Medicare. How do we balance the aspirational image we want to present as a healthcare brand with the reality of where consumers are at in relationship to the healthcare industry?

When it comes to healthcare marketing, the balance should tip toward authenticity. A healthcare brand must avoid feeling disingenuous at all costs. The creative work needs to show that we empathize and understand where consumers are truly at. Showing an elderly couple riding a tandem bike down a beachfront boardwalk or a family summiting a mountain together may seem aspirational but it is not reality for most people.

And that’s the aspiration trap.

This doesn’t mean we have to walk away from showing happy, healthy people, it just means we need to do so in an authentic, meaningful way. Maybe it’s avoiding using actors and models and instead using real people. Maybe we tell our stories in a different way. Maybe it’s building proprietary libraries of images rather than using stock. Any way of avoiding stereotypical images and tropes that have been used a million times before in healthcare will help.

The most challenging part may be moving the creative through your team. Because while some marketers like to use words like aspirational and authentic, they may have a hard time dealing with it when they see work that embraces these values and feels different for the category. But as long as it is built on a strong strategic platform (that’s a whole other article), it is for precisely this reason the work should succeed.

KC had not one, but two commercials air during the Super Bowl. We worked on the 15-second spots as part of an ongoing campaign for HealthPartners, and it was a treat to watch the ads premiere during the big game on Sunday. As a Minnesotan agency advertising for a Minnesotan healthcare organization, we were excited to feature local hip-hop queen Lizzo and her upbeat track “Good As Hell” in both spots. And we aren’t the only ones celebrating.

Did you miss the game? You can watch our HealthPartners spots and dance to Lizzo right here: