Harris Poll EquiTrend: Brand Equity will be Key to Consumers’ Health Insurer Selections

 While public health care policy and the factors that influence consumer preference and purchasing decisions about health insurance are rapidly shifting, the 2012 Harris Poll EquiTrend ® (EQ) study finds that brand equity remains strong among the top-ranked health insurers. EQ is an annual study that measures the perceptions of 38,500+ American consumers about more than 1,500 lifestyle, product, and service brands.

harris equitrend poll graph

As the 2014 deadline inches closer for implementation of a number of the health insurance reforms in the federal Accountable Care Act, brand equity has become an important new battleground for health insurers. Health insurers are preparing to compete in new ways to attract a growing number of consumers, who are playing a more influential role in their own health insurance decisions.

“The definition of consumer is ‘one that consumes’,” says Debra Richman, Senior Vice President of Healthcare Business Development & Strategy at Harris Interactive, “More than ever before, consumers are paying increased attention to their health care options and selecting products and services they prefer to consume. As a result, positive brand recognition has become and will increasingly be critically important.”

The evolving importance of consumers requires that insurers understand how their customers make health care choices and what expectations they will have of their health insurers, both when choosing a health plan and, importantly, when choosing to remain with a health plan. Richman notes, “Consumer behavior in health care is beginning to mirror how consumers behave when making other purchasing decisions, whether for consumer goods or financial services. Consumers are evaluating brand equity, user experience, convenience, and product or service value.”

Consumers Choices among Health Insurers

Among the ten competitive brands included in the 2012 Harris Poll EquiTrend study, Blue Cross Blue Shield emerges as the top-ranked health insurer. This is the third consecutive year Blue Cross Blue Shield has earned the Health Insurance Brand of the Year accolade. UnitedHealthcare places second and regional insurer, HealthNet, secures third place in this consumer-choice study

“Brand reputation is now one of the key criteria when selecting a health plan—this is especially important in a market where benefits and costs may be similar, which will definitely be the case in an insurance-exchange environment. Those companies with strong brand equity will be well-positioned to take advantage of such market changes and successfully differentiate themselves among competitors,” Richman concludes.

About Harris Poll EquiTrend

Harris Poll EquiTrend® is a leading Brand Equity tracking study conducted by Harris Interactive that measures and compares brand health for more than 1,500 brands. The study was conducted online fromJanuary 31 through February 20, 2012 and analyzes the responses of over 38,500 consumers on key measures of brand health – including how well the public knows a brand, how positively they think of the brand and their consideration to do business with or donate to a brand. Each brand is rated 1,000 times among respondents who are familiar with the brand. Harris Interactive has conducted its EquiTrend study regularly since 1989, and can offer yearly trended data from 2005. The Equity Score, a key take-away from EquiTrend, has been validated against financial performance by Georgetown University.

About Harris Interactive

Harris Interactive is one of the world’s leading custom and multi-client market research firms, leveraging research, technology, and business acumen to transform relevant insight into actionable foresight. Known widely for the Harris Poll® and for pioneering innovative research methodologies, Harris offers proprietary solutions in the areas of market and customer insight, corporate brand and reputation strategy, and marketing, advertising, public relations and communications research. Harris possesses expertise in a wide range of industries including health care, technology, public affairs, energy, telecommunications, financial services, insurance, media, retail, restaurant, and consumer package goods. Additionally, Harris has a portfolio of multi-client offerings that complement our custom solutions while maximizing our client’s research investment.  Serving clients in more than 215 countries and territories through our North American and European offices and a network of global partners, Harris specializes in delivering research solutions that help us – and our clients – stay ahead of what’s next. For more information, please .

SOURCE Harris Interactive

Elizabeth Gooding

Elizabeth Gooding is the editor of the Insight Forums blog and president of Gooding Communications Group

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