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The Maryland Health Benefit Exchange

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Who Are the Primary Customer Targets of the Plan?

Following the enactment of the Health Affordable Care Act of 2010 that gave paved way for health exchange rates, an organization , Maryland Health Benefit Exchange, rolled out the connect program in partnership with other institutions in Maryland such as Maryland Insurance Administration. These stakeholders came up with a state owned insurance exchange, the main aim of which is to offer not only affordable, but also accessible healthcare services to all residents of Maryland. Therefore, t the entire population of Maryland, estimated to be over 5.8 million people—including over 700,000 who are currently not covered by any healthcare insurance scheme, are the customers of the program. However, the primary beneficiaries  are individuals, families and small employers. According to the top management officials, the goal of the connect program, which is to offer competitive services, goes hand-in-hand with the market demands. Their approach is to involve all stakeholders within the health sector, including small employers and consumers, in order to spread the advantages of state-based health exchange programs within Maryland, and make sure that every resident registers for health benefits (Maryland Health Benefit Exchange, 2013).

Discuss the Pricing Strategy Considered for the Exchange

With the program expected to roll out in October 2013, its  developers  believe that over 150,000 people will register in the first year alone. The figure is expected to increase up to 275,000 people by the year 2020. Considering the fact that the beneficiaries of this program include individuals, families and small employers, the Board of Directors have come up with a pricing strategy that will ensure low-income earners can afford and access health services through this exchange program. Considering this fact, the program will largely assist those who get financial assistance in buying healthcare insurance premiums. For instance, individuals who have a net yearly income not exceeding $44,680 qualify for the program. Additionally, the program also offers financial assistance to families of four whose net income is below $92,200. For small employers that extend health benefits to their employees, the program will be of great help as it assists in covering some of the premium costs via the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). Small businesse will also enjoy tax exemption and the money will account as charities. The program is beneficial to the customers, for instance, in 2004, a $50,000 contribution towards health premiums yearly and plus a 15 percent credit led to the savings of $7,500 per annum. The program increases the credit percentage to 20 and the savings to $12,000 per year. There is no doubt that this health exchange program is affordable and accessible to millions of uninsured Americans (Internal Revenue Service, 2012).

Promotion of the Plan to the Customer Targets  

As explained above, the target of this plan is to register over 275,000 uninsured persons by 2020. This target is not so easy to achieve. However, according to the directors of Maryland Health Benefit Exchange, they have put in place sound marketing strategies that will involve both print and broadcast media, and the use of social platforms to educate people about the benefits of the program. In order to reach out many uninsured Marylanders, the plan highlights the importance of using other state departments to lure consumers into the plan. Bearing in mind that the plan targets individuals, families and small employers who cannot afford high quality health care premiums, it is, therefore, essential to reach out to thousands of uninsured Marylanders and incorporate them in the plan as primary consumers. The Affordable Act 2010 plays a significant role here by offering subsidies, which, in turn, makes insurance premiums affordable to these three categories. In fact, the Affordable Act 2010 offered organizations an opportunity to create programs that will cater for both individuals and shop health exchange – Small Business Health Options Program—SHOP exchange.

According to Terry, the individual exchange navigators employed by healthcare entities will play a vital role in educating the consumers about this program. This will help in marketing the health exchange plan by informing the consumers on how to enroll, renew or disengage some healthcare plans. They will also play a significant role in determining some eligibility conditions of plans such as Medicaid and the Maryland Children’s Health Program. The same case will happen for SHOP exchange where navigators will market the plan to individuals, families and small employees. There will also be service assistants to help consumers to fill in the required fields during registration.

Metrics to Assess the Success of the Marketing Plan

In order to ensure that the marketing plan of Maryland Health Benefit Exchange connect program is successful, the top management team has put up targets to act as metrics and assess the plan.  For example, the Third Party Benefit Administrators will  ensure that the plan reaches the intended population. In fact, in order to determine whether a marketing plan is successful, you need to count the number of consumers coming to register. If the organization manages to register the target number of consumers into the scheme, then the marketing plan is successful. The organization also intends to use navigators in order to register people into the scheme. The statistics and the response of the consumers towards the plan will also be  important indicators in measuring the success of the marketing plan. The organization will also look at the number of uninsured consumers and see whether there is a decline. There will also be a performance bonus for those enrolling for the first time, meaning, if 37.8 percent enter the scheme, then the marketing plan is undoubtedly successful.

Analysis of the Marketing Plan

There is no doubt that this marketing plan is very effective in meeting its targets in terms of product, price and promotion. For instance, in terms of product, the marketing plan offers the uninsured Marylanders an opportunity to afford and access healthcare premiums at a lower cost. The product also allows consumers to have a say in the quality and control choices.

In terms of cost, the marketing plan is a reprieve to many uninsured Marylanders who are unable to afford high insurance premiums. This exchange plan, and the subsidiaries offered by the state following the enactment of the Affordable Care Act 2010, makes it possible for many uninsured Marylanders to buy premiums. This plan is attributed to the government’s intention of providing affordable healthcare to its citizens.

Lastly, in terms of promotion, the trained assistants will educate the consumers and provide information about the plan, starting from the choices to the benefits. The assistants will be central in making the plan successful and will help consumers to gauge their eligibility in terms of tax credits, and to solve  the  grievances if any (Maryland Health Benefit Exchange, 2013). 

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