Healthcare Technology Featured Article

September 26, 2012

What's in a Name? Maybe, Acceptance of Health Insurance Exchanges

Maybe it’s all in the name. But states that are somewhat leery of the new healthcare law but are being forced to set up health insurance exchanges (HIXs) anyway are trying to brand, or come up with a new word for, well, exchange, because it sounds, well, just too much like the government sticking its head in.

“What we're trying to figure out is what's a name that's going to stick, that's going to grab hold, that all Californians are going to say 'Boy, that's where I go to find healthcare,' " Peter Lee, who directs California's Health Benefit Exchange, said.

California, home to seven million uninsured, is way out in front of many states with its exchange, which will have a website where people can buy private health insurance, and many consumers will have government subsidies to help them purchase the insurance. Planners hope at least three million California customers will enroll for benefits starting in 2014. But grabbing all of them may be a challenge — “so organizers want a name that will grab all of them,” the story revealed.

The name Avocado got some laughs but is now out of the running. Other names were borrowed from Spanish, like Calvida and Beneficia. They also considered Healthifornia and Wellquest, according to the story.

Maryland is another state trying to come up with a catchy name."This is a whole new world for people in terms of how they're going to access insurance, and it might be wise to give them a name that makes them feel metaphorically wrapped in some nice, warm arms that are going to take care of them," Claudia Caplan, a marketing expert with the RP3 Agency in Maryland, said.

My own state, Connecticut, came up with a very creative name. The Connecticut Health Insurance Exchange. But it’s not so much the name as what it stands for, and will do, and the promise is that by 2014, it will offer individuals a grab-bag of health insurance choices. 

And California? According to the story Eureka, a reference to the gold rush (and the state’s motto), and Ursa, which is Latin for bear and a symbol on California's state flag, are in the running. But condor is off the table. It’s extinct. 

According to Louise Radnofsky, focus groups in Oregon came up with words like "skepticism" and "frustration," and even, "black hole," and other less-kind terms to refer to insurance, brand design firm Sandstrom Partners told the Oregon Health Insurance Exchange in a presentation made available by the exchange.

Edited by Brooke Neuman

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