There is broad agreement in the United States that healthcare reform is good concept. Indeed, it is very hard to oppose it. It is also hard to oppose the environment, human rights and world peace.
But there is very little agreement about the plans being considered. From a marketing perspective, I think there are two obvious problems with how the debate is unfolding.
The first problem is complexity. The bills being considered are complicated and detailed. There are many different elements and angles. Some of the bills are over 1,000 pages long.
The proposals are so complicated it is almost impossible to actually know what is being proposed. What is the main point, anyway?
The second problem is a lack of benefits. One of the most basic marketing principles is that people are motivated by benefits. But it is very hard to find the benefits in some of the healthcare proposals. For most people the most important question is simple: what is in it for me? At the moment it is very unclear.
The lack of benefits is rather startling. For people with health insurance, it isn’t clear how the new plan will help. There isn’t a compelling benefit. For many people without health insurance, the prospect of being forced to buy it isn’t attractive. There isn’t a compelling benefit for them, either.
Most people would agree that there are real downsides in the proposals: huge amounts of new government spending, higher taxes, more government bureaucracy, uncertainty, change and risk.
At the moment the downsides far outweigh the benefits for many people. It is tough to sell anything when this is the case.
The people leading the healthcare reform movement should simplify things and identify some benefits that people care about and believe. If they don’t, they will find themselves attempting to sell a proposal that many people don’t want, and that isn’t winning approach.