Saturday, June 2, 2007

Marketing to the Disengaged

Here in the commonwealth, we have recently legislated health insurance - that is, everyone must have health insurance. (Remember when you played the Game of Life and everyone had to stop and get married?) We are also the state that legislates that everyone must have a specific type of car insurance, and of course no one can smoke. So we are used to this.

Perfectly simple right?

Understand that this law does not mean everyone is granted health insurance, but that everyone has to purchase it. And no one has really figured out how to enforce that, though we do know the penalties:

Individuals who cannot show proof of health insurance coverage by Dec. 31, 2007, will lose their personal income tax exemption when filing their 2007 income taxes. The 2006 personal exemption is $3,850 for an individual, which translates into a tax savings of approximately $204 for an individual (5.3 percent of $3,850). In 2008, failure to meet the requirement will result in a fine for each month the individual does not have coverage. The fine will equal 50 percent of the least costly, available insurance premium that meets the standard for creditable coverage.

They have also figured out how to get the message to the largest group of uninsured Bay Staters, 18-30 year old men: we are going to hammer tem to death during televised Sox games. (Not using the video above.)

The most frequent spot is a montage of Joe Bag-0-Donuts just like yerself, Sully, who think insurance is wicked cool, yo. One guy with his arm in a sling shrugs painfully and says, "Yeh, I got it." He should meet my friend Andy, famous for slicing off a piece of his hand with a plane, and stitching it up on the way to the hospital. Then he got married and had children, and I think his wife enforced some different plans.

The other ads, as anyone who watches baseball regularly can tell you, are ads for penile pharmaceuticals. It pees too much, or not enough, or it's too flaccid, or it's too erect, but whatever damn lot of trouble yours is giving you, you can take a pill for it.

So it seems to me that these ads should end with a spoken and on-screen message; "You must have health insurance to purchase Penirex. You could not afford it otherwise."

When Mike Piazza leans down to the camera, he should say, "I couldn't have had Viagra without a visit to my doctor. And I couldn't have visited a doctor without my health insurance."

You may be wondering, as I did, what about the Christian Scientists? They have much clout in this region, and they did not sit around waiting to be recognized. Because get this: Christian Scientists do have health insurance, and they wanted to make sure it was recognized by the Commonwealth as legitimate health care, and had the phrase "health care" put in place of "medical care" in official language of the new laws.

The Christian Science plan pays 90% of expenses for healers and non-pharmaceutical nursing care, such as changing bandages. And it counts. And because the law is about "health coverage," other alternative methods will also qualify. And if you still have a religious objection, you can opt-out, but get your letter to the governor by the first of July.

In closing, I would like to ask anyone to explain to me why the word "flaccid" has 2 Cs in it.

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