Many Americans are confused and frustrated by the rollout of the Affordable Care Act website for health care exchanges. As consumers we all like options. Under the new Affordable Care Act (ACA) all Americans are required to obtain health insurance coverage. Wellmark’s new ad campaign is about ensuring people know they have more than one option when purchasing health insurance.
Since October 1, the vast majority of news coverage on the ACA has focused on the challenges consumers have experienced while shopping online for policies at Healthcare.gov. For the most part, consumers are only hearing news about Healthcare.gov and are generally unaware they can get health insurance coverage through other avenues.
Wellmark is cutting through the confusion with our new ad campaign. People need to know all of their options for purchasing health insurance - whether it is from a trusted insurance broker, Healthcare.gov, or directly from an insurance company. Healthcare.gov is simply the newest place to buy. In fact, it’s literally another store where you can make your purchase, but not the only store.
Wellmark has been operating its store in Iowa and South Dakota for 75 years and we know that selecting a health insurance plan is an important, private and confidential transaction. When we see and hear that our members, business leaders and communities are confused and think they cannot purchase new health insurance policies from us, we have a responsibility to let them know we are still here to serve their health insurance needs. Consumers deserve to understand all of their options – and that includes knowing that Wellmark has an array of new health insurance plans currently available during this open enrollment period. Importantly, all new health insurance plans beginning January 1, 2014, regardless of where they are sold, are required to meet the same ACA guidelines.
Some consumers – including some of our current members – may be best served by purchasing a plan on Healthcare.gov because they qualify for a government subsidy. This is something we have been educating our members about for months. Think of the subsidy like a coupon. And that coupon can only be used at one store. Wellmark wants consumers to shop and find a plan that is right for them. We know we have comparable products, and in many cases, those products are easier to understand than many new products in the market. In addition, before subsidies, many Wellmark plans are not only similarly priced, but are less expensive than those on Healthcare.gov. So be sure to shop around and make sure that coupon you have is worth using. After all, we have the same great network of providers and time-tested exceptional service that so many people have come to appreciate and expect over the years.
Finally, some have suggested our newest ads are designed to take “jabs” at the new health care law. To the contrary, Wellmark has long voiced support for many aspects of the law, especially the intent to make health insurance affordable and accessible for everyone. We simply used humor in our ads to encourage consumers to pause and realize they have options - in many cases to keep the policy they have or shop our new products for 2014. To this end, we have already extended plans for our individual policyholders in Iowa and South Dakota to ensure none of our members will unwillingly lose their coverage through 2014. This was an option made possible for all health insurance carriers because of the wisdom and desire of our Governors and Insurance Commissioners to offer choice to their citizens. This extension allows for additional time to become more informed about what the changes in the market mean without losing the current coverage they know and trust. This is what President Obama is now suggesting states offer to their citizens. This offer of flexibility and choice allows many people in our states to have peace of mind that our market will enjoy more stability as the new health care law is implemented.
We also want to remind people that Wellmark is a fan of so many provisions of the ACA. It levels the playing field among carriers and provides the protections to consumers that allow all people to obtain health insurance regardless of their health status. Where to purchase health insurance is an important decision all Americans now face. Most will remain insured through their employer, but many consumers will still need to seek individual policies. We are glad to see our ad campaign is getting people to pause, even for a brief moment, to realize they have more options than they may think.
We encourage all consumers to look at their options and choose what is best for them and their families. Your trusted agent or broker can help guide you through the process or you can visit Wellmark.com to get a free quote. We look forward to serving the Iowans and South Dakotans that put their trust in us to give them physical and financial peace of mind.