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VOL. 36 | NO. 51 | Friday, December 21, 2012

HealthSpring lets clients do the selling

By Joe Morris

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Several things happen each fall: Temperatures begin to drop, leaves start to fall and the airwaves are filled with ads aimed at senior citizens in an effort to attract their Medicare business.

To cut through the clutter, Nashville’s HealthSpring has honed its efforts to secure more of that market and is finding success in an ongoing ad campaign.

With Medicare, timing is everything. The annual enrollment for Medicare and Medicare Advantage subscribers is the only window in which those individuals can change their plans.

In 2012, that window was Oct. 15 through Dec. 7, period during which millions of seniors were encouraged to review their benefits.

Those with Medicare through Part B or Medicare Advantage through Part C can change their plan or move from one to the other. Mobility also is allowed within the Part D prescription drug plan.

This repositioning represents millions, if not billions, of dollars to the insurance industry, and so there’s significant jockeying for an edge.

To capture some of these seniors, a television campaign from HealthSpring and Bravo Health, a HealthSpring company, debuted in October and will continue year-round to attract new enrollees.

It features real customers praising their Medicare Advantage coverage and commenting on how its preventative and wellness-focused approach, as well as the overall benefits package, allows them to enjoy their retirement years more fully.

The one- and two-minute commercials were produced by Siquis, a Baltimore-based integrated marketing agency that has been working with Bravo Health since 2008 and with HealthSpring since its 2010 acquisition of Bravo.

They have messaging that includes “experience has made you smarter” and “welcome to the age of wisdom.”

Those are backed with specific information about the tools and resources available to subscribers, as well as how primary care physicians and specialists can provide a team approach.


The campaign, which air in the District of Columbia and 12 states where HealthSpring provides coverage, builds on a theme that HealthSpring has had in place for several years, which is wellness, says Mark Tinsey, vice president of marketing for HealthSpring.

“Our overall theme for this campaign is “testify,” and it gave us an opportunity to really involve our members in communicating the benefits and features of our plans, and what HealthSpring and Bravo Health are all about. Empowering the consumer is at the core of what we do, and that means working closely with doctors to develop a team approach to member care.”

As health care has dominated the headlines in recent years with the passage of the Affordable Care Act and the subsequent rise of Affordable Care Organizations (ACOs), the shift from fee-for-service to preventative care and wellness has become quite pronounced.

This campaign visibly puts HealthSpring squarely in that model, but the company has been occupying that space for some time now, Tinsey says.

“We’re really watching everyone else play catch up to what we’re already all about,” he says. “We were able to develop a campaign with Siquis that effectively communicated our teach approach to healthcare, but also showcases how our members stay healthier and happier.”

Members happy to participate

From the agency’s perspective, the fact that an existing campaign could be broadened provided just as much creative license as a new, ground-up effort would have given, says David Melnick, vice president and director of account management for Siquis.

“We began with research as to what key terminology would resonate with the core target audience, and found that it was what HealthSpring’s unique points of identification have always been,” Melnick says.

“Using members gave us a way to communicate the benefits of the plans, and how those physician partnerships to coordinate all aspects of health and wellness kept them out of the hospital and allowed them to have a better approach to their own health.”

Finding members to take part wasn’t hard, Tinsey says.

The company had plenty of testimonial letters on file in all of its markets, as well as customer-service representatives who had members they wanted to refer for auditions. From there, it was just a matter of casting a few people and getting the cameras rolling.

“We sent out a direct-mail piece letting members know we were looking for folks who wanted to tell us their story, and we got lots from both inside and outside HealthSpring and Bravo Health,” Tinsey says. “We found that we had a lot of brand advocates, and those numbers have just continued to snowball over time.”

The campaign’s evolution will eventually take it to social media, but for now it’s limited to TV, bus wraps, print and direct-mail.

“It’s got great legs,” Tinsey notes. “We see that we are a trusted source of information for our consumers and other people, much in the same way that they talk to other people and to doctors about the types of coverage they have, or recommend. We’re working now to make sure that our touch points are consistent across all current and future elements of the campaign.”

‘Constantly renewing resource’

From the outset there have been no dramatic twists to the messaging, even as healthcare has continued to morph into new delivery models. That’s because it’s based on members, rather than a roster of services, Tinsey says.

“These people are continually unique and engaging, and they speak to the vitality of our consumer,” he says. “I am surprised by how powerful it is every year, and how its vibrancy really goes out into the community in a positive way. It’s a constantly renewing resource.”

That has made it easier for Siquis to keep it fresh, Melnick says.

“This is a company and a brand with a unique point of view, and that does make it easier for us,” he says. ‘It’s hard to build an identification like that in a commodities-based market, but here we’re communicating a philosophy as well as a service. There’s a membership base saying that this is something that’s exciting and fun to be a part of, and so we have a lot of energy to work with.”

While the campaign was at its most robust during the open-enrollment period, elements of it will run year round. That allows for HealthSpring to tout its benefits to people who are just aging into Medicare, Tinsey says.

“The advertising is great fun, but hopefully it’s also a reflection of what we’re trying to achieve for every member we have,” he says. “We want to make sure that we communicate how we are working to take care of our members in a better and more consistent way every day.”

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