HMOs: ‘Feel Good’ Campaign Uses Docs

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American Health Line

In an attempt to combat the public’s seemingly increasing negative perception of managed care companies, the Coalition of Affordable Quality Healthcare launched a television advertising campaign featuring doctors stumping for HMOs, the American Medical News reports. Recent statistics have those in the managed care industry worried. An Employer Benefit Research Institute study indicated that only 35% of Americans were “extremely or very satisfied” with their HMOs, while 49% were satisfied with their PPOs and 64% expressed satisfaction with their fee-for-service plans.

Roger Bolton, the coalition’s president, said, “Managed care has been portrayed in the news media, and even the entertainment media … as being all about money, cost savings and denying access to care, and we believe that is not an accurate portrayal of what we are all about.”

The five ads, each of which features a doctor, tell viewers: “Today’s managed health care. There’s a lot to feel good about.” The doctors add positive messages about managed care.

California doctor John Stewart says, “With managed care organizations, or HMOs, the word I think a lot of us are forgetting is ‘health’ … health is what it is all about. That’s what we’re trained for, to prevent disease before it occurs. If you catch it later, you have a lot more cost. Preventive medicine is by far the best it’s ever been. I like managed care because I can treat people early.”


Margaret Horlander, vice president of the Kentucky-based advertising agency Creative Alliance, said of the ads, “Strategically, they absolutely hit it. It is a good start, but (managed care companies) have a long row to hoe.” Other advertising experts are not so convinced.

Chuck Kushell, president of the New York-based Hill Holiday advertising agency, said that even though the ads feature real doctors, consumers are more likely to pay attention to what their personal doctors have to say about managed care. He added, “All consumers are hearing from their doctors is how much they hate managed care.”

Jamie Court, advocacy director for Consumers for Quality Care, called the ads a “travesty” because they “only remind people of why they hate HMOs” (Jacob, 12/6).

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