AHIP commits $1M for television defense of insurers


The White House has taken direct aim at the health insurance business as it tries to keep health care reform alive in one form or another. And health insurers are mobilizing under the auspices of America’s Heath Insurance Plans to fight back with a $1M ad flight.

The news about rate hikes of up to 39% in some cases has added fuel to the White House attack.

In an address concurrent with news of the ad buy, AHIP’s Karen Ignagni said, “Our industry strongly supports health care reform because we recognize that the current system is unsustainable. The current debate about rising premiums has demonstrated that, in fact, we have a health care cost crisis in this country. Unfortunately, the path that has been followed is one of vilification rather than problem solving.”

The White House was quick to respond to news of the flight. Communications Director Dan Pfieffer blogged, “If we enact health reform, it will restrict how much of your premium dollars can be spent on profits and overhead by requiring health insurance companies to spend 80-85% of the money they take in on care. That’s worth keeping in mind. Because right after the Insurance companies announced huge rate increases for families across the country, they gathered at the luxurious Ritz Carlton in Washington to announce that they are spending $1 million on ads to defeat health reform. That money could probably be better spent keeping rates down for customers.”

TPMDC notes that spending on the health care air war went into hibernation for a time, but the renewed vigor of the debate has brought renewed vigor to the spending. Campaign Media Analysis is predicting an increase in spending from both sides over the next few weeks.

RBR-TVBR observation: Issue advertising has been the key to turning the political category into much more of a perennial than it has been in the past. It’s still going to spike around election time, but the more heated the debate, the more spending there will be in this category.

Some issues are universal, while others have more narrowly specified interested parties. It will pay to really know your audience, so you are ready to sell access when they are a key element of a given controversy.