November 14, 2005
Medicare Prescription Drug Plans: Many Plans to Name. Little Name Planning.
There's been a lot of press lately about the new Prescription Drug Plans (PDPs) available for Seniors. The promotional hoopla began in October, but the real test, identifying and signing up for the plans, begins this week.
What's interesting about this highly regulated release of new products is that all 76 of the PDP brand names were introduced simultaneously. It means that the insurance companies had no precedent or competitive set to use in their branding. Every one of them ran the risk of sounding dangerously familiar to another PDP on the market. And it shows.
Of the 76 unique Prescription Drug Plan brands, 36% contains the word Rx, 32% contains Medicare and 29% contains Plan. And a few like, AARP MedicareRx Plan, Blue Shield of California Medicare Rx Plan, manage to contain all three words.
Equally uncreative are the terms used to describe the different levels or sub brands for these new PDPs. The majority of plans relies on the traditional Gold and Silver or Option 1, Option 2 level differentiators.
But the lack of differentiation doesn't stop with the wording, it's also inherent in the architecture. Only two brands are one word in length, with the average brand running 3.1 words. Kudos for the shortest name goes to Pharmacy Insurance Corporation of America - PICA, whose moniker for the new plan is, simply, PICA.
But this refreshing brevity is in contrast with the conventionally longer names on the list. The most excruciatingly long brand name goes to Rocky Mountain Health Plans for its RMHP Defined Standard Medicare PDP Plan. Also noted are the series of 143 sub-brands offered by Prescription Pathways such as Prescription Pathway Platinum Plan Reg 14, Prescription Pathway Gold Plan Reg 29 and Prescription Pathway Bronze Plan Reg 2. ( I hate to state the obvious, but the target market for these products does not have the best memory for long-winded names.)
A few bright stars, however, emerge from this crowded sea of insurance traditionalism. Medica Health Solutions' YOURx Plan, Universal Health Care's Masterpiece Rx and Masterpiece Rx Choice use shorter, suggestive words combined with traditional drug symbolism to get the message across.
In the end, a brief and compelling name may very well be the best prescription for standing out among this crowded field of new insurance offerings.
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