Posted on Jul 22, 2010 by Sergio Ulloa
Blue Cross Blue Shield, the major American health insurance provider, has been rated as having the highest brand equity in the USA's national insurance market according to a recent report released by Harris Interactive, a leading international market research company.
During Harris' 2010 EquiTrend
survey, the company found that Blue Cross Blue Shield has the highest brand equity in the industry. The report discovered that Aetna and United Healthcare rank second and third, respectively. This is the first year in which Harris Interactive has looked at the American Insurance industry during the annual study, which has previously been limited to major financial services companies.
The study follows in the wake of recent developments in the American health insurance market, including the recent legislation
passed by President Obama in an attempt to reform healthcare in the USA. As such, American consumers are expected to be more discriminating with their choice of health insurance plan, which could be a major boon for Blue Cross Blue Shield in light of the company's higher visibility in the market.
Insurance companies like Blue Cross Blue Shield, who have focused on, and actively managed their brand identities, will be better able to capitalize on the extraordinary influx of potential business in the coming months, according to Harris Interactive Vice President Debra Richman. However, Harris has also noticed an increasing trend of consumers switching to cheaper insurance cover from 2008 - 2009 with 11% of all health insurance purchasers, up 3% from the previous year, opting to obtain a plan that was less expensive.
This increase in price-conscious consumers means that despite Blue Cross Blue Shield having the most visible brand within the USA's insurance industry, there may be more factors to consider than simply being noticeable; policy benefits, renewability, and international portability will all affect the decision of the aware consumer to purchase a medical insurance policy.
One of the reasons that Blue Cross Blue Shield may have the best brand equity within the US insurance market is due to their overwhelming market share. The company, its subsidiaries, and partners have the largest share
of the health insurance market in 36 states according to a June 2009 survey released by the Center for American Progress.
With this type of domination in the market there is actually little choice for the consumer at the end of the day, which may be the key reason that Blue Cross Blue Shield has been rated as having the highest overall brand equity. However, with the passage of the recent healthcare reform bill some of the major concerns about overwhelming market share (such as inflated premiums, limited benefits, exclusions on pre-existing conditions, and low annual limits) have been negated.
As Harris Interactive has pointed out, brand equity is not the sole factor at work within the American medical insurance market, and concerns such as policy pricing will play an increasingly important role as the legislation's reforms are rolled out through to 2014. With this in mind Blue Cross Blue Shield has some interesting decisions to make in the coming years. As domestic American health insurance policies start to differentiate themselves to a greater degree than they currently have, considerations such as Brand may be of limited significance to the consumer looking for more flexible benefits.