How to engage health insurance consumers

Health care open enrollment is here again. To explore the consumer journey for selecting health insurance, Yahoo recently conducted an online survey of more than 2,000 individuals. We hope our insights can help healthcare brands better understand what their customers are looking for and how to connect with them more effectively.

Major triggers for healthcare research

Our study showed that a majority of Americans (56%) have health insurance coverage through an employer. Additionally, more than a third (34%) changed their healthcare elections last year. The top trigger that prompted them to reevaluate their healthcare choices was open enrollment (42%). Life-stage and job changes round out the top three motivations for evaluating healthcare elections.

Searches for open enrollment peak in December, while general health insurance queries peak later in January, indicating that consumers continue to research and gather healthcare information even after they’ve made their selections.

Quick research process, thanks to the internet

For such an important decision, people typically don’t spend a lot of time evaluating their options. 54% of people take less than 2 hours to decide and 27% take 60 minutes or less to decide on a plan for the year. It’s not surprising that 1/3 of consumers do not feel they are well informed about their current plan coverage.

When it does come to researching health insurance providers, the majority of people (64%) rely on digital resources and 1 in 5 indicated that ads played a role in their decision process.

Most consumers research on a laptop/desktop computer (95%), but research on mobile is becoming more common with 31% researching on a smartphone and 23% on a tablet.

The most popular topics of interest when researching healthcare are plan options / cost comparisons (63%) and checking if preferred doctors are in-network (58%). Ultimately, monthly and out-of-pocket costs are the most important factors when selecting a plan (90%).

Advertisers can optimize spend

To align marketing efforts with the way consumers approach healthcare insurance, advertisers should:

  • Increase spend during the peak season: Consumer interest in health care plans is highly seasonal and often sparked by open enrollment deadlines. Make sure to allocate budgets accordingly with highest investment from October to January.

  • Provide educational information: There is an opportunity to educate consumers through content marketing, since consumers don’t spend a lot of time researching and often leverage online resources to answer general health and wellness questions.

  • Reach healthcare decision makers online: 64% of consumers use online sources to research health insurance providers and 1 in 5 indicate that ads played a role in their decision process.

  • Increase visibility on mobile: While desktop presence is important, many consumers are using mobile devices to research health insurance options. Make sure to have visibility across devices.
Data Source: Yodelers Spring Board America Panel, Field dates: August 26 – 31, 2016. N = 2,006