Health Plans Should Study Obamacare Winners

Gregory A. Freeman, October 19, 2016

Health plan leaders should ask themselves why everyone is pulling out on one side of the market while there is so much growth and success on the other side, suggests the head of a prescription drug discount firm.

Struggling health plans should learn from the experiences of those who are doing well under the Affordable Care Act, says Keith Jacobs, president of RefillWise, a prescription drug discount company that primarily serves the uninsured.

The financial struggles of health plans under the ACA are surprising, he says, especially since other players in the healthcare industry are prospering.

"How can the government hold a gun to the head of American consumers to force them to buy a product and the makers of that product still not succeed? Any other business would die for that, and yet somehow they can't figure out how to sell and make it work," Jacobs says.

"They're not reaching the consumers and managing to break even with their offerings on the exchanges. All of the non-payer businesses are somehow managing to fill this gap, so it's not like it's impossible to reach consumers and remain profitable."

Health plan leaders should ask themselves why everyone is pulling out on one side of the market while there is so much growth and success on the other side, Jacobs suggests. RefillWise is one of the success stories under Obamacare and Jacobs says that is largely because his and other prospering companies are focused on price.

"That's instead of trying to build a big brand that is memorable in everyone's mind, like Blue Cross/Blue Shield, or Aetna, or Humana. If you look at their marketing campaigns, it's a big billboard with a family splashing in the pool and suggesting you're going to be healthy and happy with that insurer," Jacobs says.

"For us, the story of consumer healthcare in America in 2016 is lowering the price, trying to bring capitalism to this non-capitalist market."

Gregory A. Freeman

Gregory A. Freeman is a contributing writer.

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