Wednesday, March 16, 2011
The most serious problem with the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) is not its contents but its packaging. Because it requires significant departures from business as usual in health insurance, health care delivery, and health behavior, the ACA is unlikely to succeed unless Americans feel a shared stake in its success. Unfortunately, the new law has been branded only by its opponents. Neither the Obama administration nor its congressional allies have effectively communicated the law’s key elements to the public. Most surprisingly, the groundbreaking program of near-universal health coverage the ACA creates does not even have a name. This essay explores the process of branding major American social legislation such as the ACA, and suggests a strategy for improving public understanding and building loyalty. Legal brand equity, like its commercial counterpart, implies a functional, emotional, and expressive relationship between the law and its intended beneficiaries. Accordingly, an effective marketing strategy for the ACA means creating consistent expectations regarding the law’s goals and performance, and ensuring that those expectations are met.