Four ways to fortify your health insurance campaigns

Since the beginning of the first Affordable Care Act (ACA) Open Enrollment period in October 2013, the rate of uninsured adults in the U.S. has dropped from 16.8% to 11.9% – that’s a 35% decrease (Gallup, In U.S., Uninsured Rate Dips to 11.9% in First Quarter, April 13, 2015). In June, the enrollees of the federal exchange – 6.4 million people in 34 states – received news that the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in their favor and that they are still eligible for premium tax credits (aka “subsidies”) under the ACA (Kaiser Health News, High Court Upholds Health Law Subsidies, June 25, 2015).
With the exchanges running smoothly and the non-compliance tax penalty (aka “individual shared responsibility payment”) growing, this year’s Open Enrollment is poised to be a busy one for health insurance advertisers. Read on to learn more about how to plan your health insurance campaigns and budgets to reach the most healthcare seekers.
1. Plan your campaigns around the enrollment periods
The open enrollment periods for the ACA and Medicare provide advertisers with natural campaign periods. For both periods, search volume remains high with occasional holiday dips. Advertisers can use Automated Rules to automatically start and stop their campaigns and ad groups. Automated Rules can also be used to increase budgets for well-performing campaigns, or to adjust keyword bids to stay competitive.
This year, the ACA Open Enrollment will run from November 1, 2015 to January 31, 2016. The average cost-per-click spikes around the beginning and end of the Open Enrollment period, while the average click-through rate remains fairly constant throughout the period. Advertisers will want to plan enough budget for the three-month period and adjust their bids accordingly to make it through the last-minute rush.

Medicare’s annual Open Enrollment for current subscribers will run from October 15 to December 7, while the General Enrollment for new subscribers will run from January 1 to March 31, 2016. Advertisers should be prepared for the later search peaks that both enrollment periods experience, and plan their budgets accordingly.
For Medicare-related searches, the cost-per-click increases as the Open Enrollment period progresses; whereas cost-per-click remains relatively low during the General Enrollment period. Advertisers will need to adjust their bids during the Open Enrollment period to keep up with competition.

2. Bid on, ACA, and Medicare related terms
The top health insurance searches on Bing Ads are for “healthcare gov” and “medicare gov”, yet the federal government doesn’t advertise. Instead it relies on organic search traffic. This is also true of most state exchanges. Searches for “healthcare gov” peak in the first half of the ACA Open Enrollment period, whereas searches for “medicare gov” stay high throughout Medicare’s Open Enrollment period. This provides an opportunity for advertisers to bid on keywords related to the exchanges, ACA, and Medicare.

3. Target the needs of online healthcare seekers
According to the Pew Research Center, 77% of online healthcare seekers began their health inquiries at search engines (Pew Internet & American Life Project, “Health Online,” January 15, 2013). Women, seniors, and caregivers are well represented online healthcare seekers (eMarketer, Online Health Information Seekers: Internet Use Grows, But Doctors’ Orders Still Apply, February 2013). Advertisers can use Demographic Targeting to reach these online healthcare seekers.
Women, in particular, play a large role in managing and making family health decisions, and are more likely to be caregivers. Seniors like the ability to choose from a wide range of Medicare plans, but find it frustrating and difficult to compare them (KFF, How are Seniors Choosing and Changing Health Insurance Plans, May 13, 2014). Caregivers, on the other hand, are looking for health information for others, with 31% of caregivers having gone online to find health insurance information (Kantar Media, “MARS 2012 Online Behavior Study,” June 1, 2012).
4. Offer solutions, not just products
As consumers prepare for open enrollment, they are doing research online to help them make informed decisions. Advertisers can leverage your ads to help consumers understand and compare the plans and services you’re offering.
According to Bing Ads internal analysis, the best performing health insurance ads included information-related words, such as “questions”, “learn”, “find plans”, “benefits”, “advantage”, and “enrollment”, to grab the consumer’s attention and lead them to your site to learn more.
To further boost your performance, use dynamic text for your ad title, coupled with the informational words in the description. This helps you align your ad copy with the exact topic your audience is searching for and promises to provide them with more information on that topic.
More coverage options
The health insurance enrollment periods will be a busy time for consumers and digital marketers alike. These four tips will help you cover your health insurance-related campaigns and connect with online healthcare seekers. 
Interested in learning more? We’ve got more healthcare insights and search trends in our Health Insurance Open Enrollment presentation.
For more seasonal and vertical insights, check out the Bing Ads Industry Insights Portal.