I saw a very interesting couple of videos today put on YouTube by Humana – the managed care insurance company. Apparently they are the first in a series that they are calling “Stay Smart Stay Healthy.” According to an email I got today promoting the second video, “Stay Smart Stay Healthy is a Humana new-media venture designed to deliver guidance, and to support awareness and understanding of the healthcare industry. Our goal is simple: to educate consumers on the healthcare system by removing the usual complexities and replacing them with an informative and engaging series of videos.”
While that sounds like good corporate citizenship, the actual content of the videos doesn’t seem quite so innocent.
The first video is titled “Why is Healthcare So Expensive.” Their presentation on this important issue has significant flaws in how it describes the data, and it doesn’t source the information in case someone wants to check out the details. In addition, they don’t really describe how health care costs are growing or what really is contributing to this growth. I believe my graphically enhanced presentation on this from August is a much clearer and accurate presentation. In particular, their assertion that prescription drugs are 15% of healthcare spending and are the leading cause of high costs is not accurate. The correct figure for 10-11%, and as such cannot be the leading cause of high health care costs.
The second video is titled “How Does Insurance Work.” Unfortunately, what it presents is an idealized version of social insurance. As I expressed to the other people who received today’s email, “the video simplistically describes completely community rated insurance without any underwriting. While this might have been somewhat effective in undermining the McCain campaign’s individual market proposal, it doesn’t reflect the reality of private health insurance in the US – and I don’t think Humana is an exception.”
So what is going on here? I can only conclude that this is Humana’s attempt at some type of grassroots educational or propoganda campaign to convince people that the health insurance/managed care industry is all roses, and the problems in the healthcare system are elsewhere. I don’t think they’ve achieved this.
The graphics in the videos are all nice and fun, but the substance is seriously lacking. While they might argue that they couldn’t get more sophisticated in a 3 minute video, I would disagree – and point out that YouTube videos aren’t limited to 3 minutes. They could certainly make a 5 or 7 minute version that contains much more accurate and useful substance. These videos seem to be equivalent to about a 3rd grade reading level – and I think American adults can handle more than that, and certainly deserve something better about such an important issue.
This campagin also makes me wonder who might be overseeing this type of advertising/communications? If this was drug or disease advertising the FDA or the FTC would certainly be interested. I’ll be curious to see who takes note of these videos, and then possibly asks Humana what this is all about and what their goals are for this campaign.
Any thoughts from the blogsphere?