Insights on Today's Healthcare Consumer

What Influences Balance Seekers to Buy Health Insurance? (Part 3 of 5)

Posted by Brent Walker on Mon, Nov 21, 2016



Anyone who has ever indulged in “retail therapy” certainly wasn’t shopping for health insurance. A Forbes article exploring why the Affordable Care Act didn’t get off to a good start tapped John Quelch, the Charles Edward Wilson Professor of Business Administration at Harvard Business School and a professor of health policy and management at Harvard School of Public Health, for insight into the rocky launch of the federal health insurance marketplace. Quelch notes that buying a health insurance plan is a “grudge purchase” and attributes the lack of enthusiasm as a problem with health insurance marketing.

Balance Seekers are skeptical when it comes to the benefits of healthcare reform.

After all, health insurance plans are complicated; shopping for them feels like a chore. Quelch says, “First you have to make sure the right people are aware of the new opportunities, and then you’ve got to motivate and enable them to find an insurance solution that makes sense for them.” And health insurers have their work cut out for them when it comes to Balance Seekers, one of the five psychographic segments defined by c2b solutions.


▶ Balance Seekers Aren’t ACA Fans

Balance Seekers are generally proactive about their health, but they are significantly more likely than another proactive segment—Self Achievers—to oppose the ACA. Based on c2b solutions’ survey of Balance Seekers, we also know that they are skeptical when it comes to the benefits of healthcare reform.  


Access to healthcare:

28 percent report a somewhat negative or extremely negative view of the impact of the ACA on access to healthcare.


Quality of healthcare:

32 percent express a somewhat negative or extremely negative view of the impact of the ACA on healthcare quality.


Out-of-pocket costs:

40 percent have somewhat negative or extremely negative view of the impact of the ACA on their personal healthcare expenses.

healthcare.gov_blog_side.jpgThe doubts that Balance Seekers have about government involvement in healthcare reflect a larger attitude shared by Balance Seekers. This psychographic segment believes that they themselves—not healthcare professionals—define what success looks like in their health. Perhaps as a result, Balance Seekers—like Willful Endurers—are statistically more likely than Priority Jugglers, Self Achievers and Direction Takers to not have insurance coverage.

In addition, this lack of trust—or independent streak, depending on your perspective—means that Balance Seekers will look to other sources for information about health insurance plans. Friends and family or social forums will influence their decisions, so health insurance marketing needs to develop the right messages and share them in the right places to connect with this segment of shoppers.


▶ What Do Balance Seekers Want from Health Insurance Plans?

Given their attitudes about the ACA, effective health insurance marketing must address the factors that Balance Seekers say are most important to them. According to our research, the following percentages of Balance Seekers rate these attributes as Extremely/Very Important:

Reasonable annual premium—92 percent

A trustworthy insurance company—90 percentBlog_patients.png

Medical coverage options that meet my family’s specific needs—90 percent  

Reasonable co-pays—89 percent

Easy-to-understand information on plan coverage—89 percent

Availability of needed care without delays—89 percent


In addition, 88 percent of Balance Seekers want assurances that they will have control over their healthcare decisions, a statistically significant difference compared to Willful Endurers, Priority Jugglers and Direction Takers.

Marketers must remember that
this independent segment lacks trust in the
healthcare system — and its players.

One way to get your foot in the door with Balance Seekers may be through health insurance plans that reward positive health behaviors. Eighty-four percent of Balance Seekers said they strongly agreed or agreed that health insurance companies should incentivize healthy behaviors by offering reductions in premiums and copays or offering coupons for healthy products. In addition, 40 percent said that receiving a discount on a gym membership would be a desirable incentive.  

Influencing any healthcare consumer to shop for and select health insurance plans is an uphill battle. When it comes to Balance Seekers, the struggle can be even greater. Marketers must remember that this independent segment lacks trust in the healthcare system—and its players—so you need to overcome their cynicism and address their priorities to win them over.

Consumer ACAlogy - How to Succeed a Reform Environment

Brent Walker

Written by: Brent Walker

As Chief Marketing Officer, Brent's primary responsibilities include leading marketing strategy and execution for c2b solutions, development of c2b solutions' proprietary consumer segmentation model and insights products, research on healthcare consumers’ motivations and behaviors, and providing marketing guidance to c2b solutions clients.

Tags: Psychographic Segmentation, Health Insurance Marketing

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