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Blue Cross Blue Shield named health insurance brand of the year Posted: May 24th, 2012

By Maryalene LaPonsie

Maryalene LaPonsie has been writing professionally for more than a decade on topics including education, insurance and personal finance. She holds a Bachelor's Degree in Political Science from Western Michigan University.

For the third year in a row, consumers have ranked Blue Cross Blue Shield as the top health insurance brand.

The insurer received the designation as part of the 2012 Harris Poll EquiTrend survey that analyzes consumer perceptions of more than 1,500 lifestyle, service and product brands. Within the health insurance category, the survey considered eight competitive brands.

4 health insurance companies ranked above average

Although eight brands were included in the survey, only four ranked high enough to be considered above average. These health insurance companies all had scores exceeding the category average of 50.78:

  • Blue Cross Blue Shield: 58.43
  • UnitedHealthcare: 54.83
  • HealthNet: 53.67
  • Aetna: 52.34

Other companies included in the survey were CIGNA, Amerigroup, Humana and Kaiser Permanente. However, their scores were not published since they fell below the category average.

Brand equity and health reform

Harris Interactive, which conducted the Harris Poll EquiTrend survey, says brand equity will take on increasing importance for health insurance companies as health reform provisions are implemented.

In 2014, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act will require nearly all Americans to maintain health insurance coverage. In addition, it will provide new ways for individuals to purchase medical insurance.

While many consumers may be searching for low-cost health insurance now, the price of various plans may level out once government exchanges are established in 2014. A representative from Harris Interactive says having a positive brand perception is essential for health insurance plans to remain competitive.

"Brand reputation is now one of the key criteria when selecting a health plan -- this is especially important in a market where benefits and costs may be similar, which will definitely be the case in an insurance-exchange environment," says Debra Richman, senior vice president of Healthcare Business Development & Strategy at Harris Interactive, in a press statement. "More than ever before, consumers are paying increased attention to their health care options and selecting products and services they prefer to consume."

The Harris Poll EquiTrend survey has been conducted regularly since 1989. The survey uses ratings from more than 38,000 consumers using criteria such as brand awareness, brand perception and the likelihood of doing business with a particular brand.