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Brand Momentum

February 12, 2008

Is it possible for a brand to have momentum*? The same notion of momentum we are all familiar with in the physical world much as a wave that gathers mass, velocity and direction allowing it to travel vast differences before dissipating or crashing on shore?

If a brand can have momentum, what will add to it?

Detract from it?

How do we measure it?

How do we manage it?

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. February 25, 2008 12:47 pm

    Miro: Since your blog speaks to the same subjects as mine, I thought you’d be interested in the following – especially since you have written about detracting from brand momentum. It’s possible you missed a little news about Health Net, Inc., one of the largest publicly traded health plan companies in the US.

    Its corporate mission, according to the website, is “to help people be healthy, secure and comfortable.” Health Net supposedly provides affordable, high-quality health coverage to more than 6.5 million consumers in 27 states and the District of Columbia with a national network of over 300,000 physicians. But then you get a speed bump like this:

    US health insurer to pay $9 million for dropping breast cancer patient in middle of treatment…By THOMAS WATKINS (Associated Press Writer), Associated Press, February 23, 2008 3:21 PM EST…

    LOS ANGELES – A woman who had her medical insurance coverage canceled as she was undergoing treatment for breast cancer has been awarded more than $9 million (euro 6.06 million) in a case against one of California’s largest health insurers.

    Patsy Bates, 52, a hairdresser from Lakewood, had been left with more than $129,000 in unpaid medical bills when Health Net Inc. canceled her policy in 2004.

    On Friday, arbitration judge Sam Cianchetti ordered Health Net to repay that amount while providing $8.4 million (euro 5.66 million) in punitive damages and $750,000 (euro 505,100) for emotional distress.

    “It’s hard to imagine a situation more trying than the one Bates has had to endure,” Cianchetti wrote in the decision. “The rug was pulled out from underneath, and that occurred at a time when she is diagnosed with breast cancer, one of the leading causes of death for women.”

    Bates, a mother of two, said she screamed when she heard about the damage award. “I am elated,” she said.

    Bates’ attorney William Shernoff said he wanted other insurers to take notice of the award. “We are going to put a stop to this practice,” he said.

    Health Net said it was implementing a freeze on policy cancellations that would last until the company sets up a third-party review panel to scrutinize cases. “Obviously we regret the way that this has turned out, but we are intent on fixing the processes to maintain the public trust,” spokesman David Olson said.

    The award came a day after the Los Angeles city attorney sued Health Net, claiming it illegally canceled the coverage of about 1,600 patients. City Attorney Rocky Delgadillo also said the company illegally ran an incentive program in which it paid bonuses to an administrator for meeting targets of policy cancellations.

    Health Net acknowledged that such a program existed in 2002 and 2003 but was subsequently scrapped.

    “It’s hard to imagine a policy more reprehensible than tying bonuses to encourage the recision of health insurance that helps keep the public well and alive,” Cianchetti wrote in the Bates decision.

    Bates had been insured with another company but was persuaded to switch over to a Health Net policy after an agent suggested she could save money.
    She said she had undergone surgery to remove a tumor and had received her first two chemotherapy treatments when doctors stopped treating her because her bills were going unpaid.

    “I was devastated. I didn’t know what was going to happen,” Bates said. “It’s boggling that someone can do that to you.”

    Bates went on to complete her cancer treatment through a state-funded program. Health Net also said it would review its practices and the way its brokers and agents are trained.

    Will this slow Health Net down? I doubt it. Do Health Net’s administrators talk with the company’s marketing people? I doubt this too. Ta for Monday.

  2. February 25, 2008 4:18 pm

    Thank you Richard
    I wasn’t aware of this case – but then again HMO’s in USA aren’t the paragon of customer centricity are they? Equally as bad as the Walmart case that was publicized by WSJ “Accident Victims Face Grab for Legal Winnings
    just before Christmas – where they were suing the lady to recover monies the court awarded her from Walmart.

    In Canada – at least we all get treated equally in the same slow fashion.

    However from a brand momentum perspective – one case rarely impacts an enterprise just like a bullet will not stop a train – unless the press gets involved for a protracted period of time.

    thanks for stopping by

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