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Health Care Market Research and the Importance of Inclusive Sampling

The hot topic right now in health care market research is the Affordable Care Act. It has paved the way for insurance companies to target a wider range of potential customers. The concept of the insurance market place is quite straightforward, but like many things, the process is much more complex. Each state runs its own exchange, and along with that comes unique rules, deadlines, vendors and so on.

With health care market research, ensuring sure you have a representative sample of the population you are aiming to target absolutely critical. Many health care clients approach CFR with a defined idea of the buyers they would like to target, but they are often surprised at the time and cost it takes to truly target these potential buyers. Plus, they are often shocked by how their target population translates into real numbers.

Performing a complex study, at a great cost

CFR was hired by an insurance company whose goal was to invest in health care exchanges in three additional states in 2015 versus the prior enrollment period in 2014. These three additional markets required millions and millions of dollars of investments to even prepare to bring their insurance offerings to market. Meaning, this insurance company spent enormous sums of money on marketing, advertising and general brand awareness, just to set the foundation for shoppers to even consider them when it came time to enroll.

As a follow-up in these sizable investments in brand awareness and marketing efforts, this insurance company wished to track their progress with health care market research. Every six months, they wanted to measure their awareness and performance in these new markets.

Offhand this would not be considered a challenge, but there were two big issues. First, they only wanted to target people who would be eligible for a federal subsidy. To be eligible for a federal subsidy, participants must be earning 400 percent under federal poverty level. That is an extremely challenging group to do representative sampling that is probability-based and randomized, simply because it is so narrow. Second, the cost to build this particular sample was going to be tremendous, especially since this company wanted to do it twice a year.

The challenge to CFR was this: how to build a representative sample that is inclusive and logical, without sacrificing quality of the data?

Making realistic decisions about what inclusive looks like

CFR wrote and edited the screening criteria, and determined how questions would be asked. We also had a productive discussion with the insurance company about what their needs were, whether the sampling truly needed to be 400 percent under the poverty level. If we did target the original, narrowed audience, it meant that this company was only looking to sell to about 8 percent of the population. After they had spent millions to invest in their new states, this did not make sense. Our client agreed—they of course wanted to offer their products to a much broader group of people.

Instead, CFR crafted a much more realistic approach to the sampling. The profiles we derived were much more inclusive of who would actually be shopping on the exchange. We targeted this audience via phone survey, and at 60 percent of the original cost.

This is a common challenge we encounter with clients in health care market research and elsewhere. Many clients believe that they want to gain insights into a very narrow, boxed-in group of people. That is okay in concept, but clients may find that they may box themselves out of a large percentage of the population.

Are you performing health care market research targeted to a very specific group of people? CFR can help you define your screening criteria and survey. Contact us here to tell us more.

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Topics: sampling , market research in healthcare

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