Health insurers’ advertising mines the credibility gap


Is AHIP suffering from amnesia? Are all its members afflicted with short-term memory loss or do they think we’ve been living in some parallel universe?

Thanks to the ACA’s insurance mandate, carriers are falling all over themselves to recruit new customers (and profits) with claims of superior service, warm and fuzzy patient care and cutting-edge technology.  Humana promises to “close the gap” between people and the healthcare they deserve (presumably the very same care they denied to the very same people just months earlier due to “pre-existing” conditions). Cigna is all about seeing you as the “living, breathing person” you are (as opposed, I guess, to the source of limitless revenue you’ve been).  And United Healthcare is offering patients and their families information they can trust (and the data the carrier and other marketers can likely use).

Creative but not very credible.

Healthcare providers, meanwhile, are still struggling to get the reimbursements they’re due while compensation for insurance CEOs is at its highest level yet.

Makes you yearn for stricter “truth in advertising” regulations or, at the very least, true and universal health care.


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Apple serves up the schmaltz with its new 5s iPhone and “Chicken Fat”


A confession: I was/am a major fan of “Flashdance.” Even now, whenever I hear the theme song (“What a feeling”) at the gym, it makes me smile and I push a little harder. Mock if you must.

I feel the same way about “Chicken Fat,” Apple’s new spot for its 5s iPhone. Yes, the song has a history and some may snicker at the corniness. But it’s beautiful storytelling, plugged into the zeitgeist of self-improvement  and empowerment (“You’re more powerful than you think.”) and, more importantly for the brand, promotes the benefits of personal health information technology in a very human and organic way.

Would write more but I’m running out to get in my 10,000 steps for the day.

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With a Koch and a smile: the softer side of big money


One of the most striking discoveries from last month’s interview with Edward Snowden was how unremarkable he seemed. Blondish, pale, disarming—neither traitor nor hero—he turned out to be just an ordinary man with an extraordinary story to tell. The systems analyst that inspired a thousand conspiracy theories was reduced to the IT guy he actually is/was. As political theatre, it was brilliant. The Koch brothers (as in “coke,” the fuel made from coal, not “Koch,” the late, great mayor of NYC) seem to have taken this lesson to heart with a new commercial called “We are Koch.” Yes, the bête noire of the 99%, bankrollers of the Tea Party and underwriters of such major cultural and educational institutions as the New York City Ballet and MIT are out to show that, like Snowden, they’re both more and less than you think they are. They’re job-creators, idea-generators and supporters of “opportunities for people everywhere.” Who knew? You half expect to hear Kumbaya playing softly in the background. But, alas, it does not and what we see looks like every other industrial in the category. Which is to say, a lot of self-reverential bloviating. But the real story behind the feel-good spot, I suspect, is not a pitch to investors but to get a jump on the upcoming documentary, “Citizen Koch,” that tracks the ruinous effect of the Citizens United decision and the unlimited, anonymous spending by corporations and Koch-like plutocrats on the electoral process. (The eponymous and anonymous citizens never appear in their commercial either.) They say money can’t buy you love. But the Koch bros are sure hoping it can bury the opposition.

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