Humana purports to cut through all the jargon and traditional media with a new series of faux naif video clips on YouTube accessible through the managed care giant's Stay Smart Stay Healthy web site, which tells us:

In the old world, companies tried to explain health insurance through complex brochures or some other kind of traditional media filled with industry jargon and littered with “legalese.” This is one of the main reasons consumers fail to understand their health insurance. We, the industry, just don’t make it easy.

Today, consumers are increasingly filtering out complex messages, in favor of clearer, more relevant ones delivered through new, engaging mediums of communication. Recognizing this, Humana is now exploring non-traditional avenues to influence consumers’ mindsets and behaviors.

Stay Smart Stay Healthy is a Humana new-media venture designed to deliver guidance, and to support awareness and understanding of the healthcare industry. Our goal is simple: to educate consumers on the healthcare system by removing the usual complexities and replacing them with an informative and engaging series of videos.

Why read your subscriber agreement or a summary when you can watch a "new media" video?

The videos are undeniably clever and engaging, and they do contain some valid information.  (I'm making this blanket generalization after watching only the latest addition to the series — the tenth video, on Medicare.)  However, at least this most recent video includes the managed care organization point of view slipped in — not-so-subtly — among the "facts."  Specifically, the clip explains Medicare Advantage as managed care for Medicare beneficiaries that reduces cost and improves quality.  Of course, Medicare Advantage is also a program that provides an essentially guaranteed profit margin to (mostly) for-profit managed care organizations.

The installment on "Why Is Health Care So Expensive?" was similarly deconstructed by Michael Miller at his Health Policy and Communications Blog, one of the other bloggers apparently getting the Humana email updates on this series.

It will be interesting to see whether this series of videos will spawn replies or parodies, as often happens on YouTube.  Once "old economy" companies engage with "new media," they no longer control the discourse.

David Harlow
The Harlow Group LLC
Health Care Law and Consulting