Forges Alliance With NCA

Share this content:, Norristown, Pa., a direct marketer of health insurance through the Internet, this week is scheduled to begin testing print and radio ads designed to drive traffic to its Web site ( and to begin testing a system for capturing e-mail addresses through banner ads.

The company, a subsidiary of holding company Provident American Corp., also is expected within the next few weeks to launch advertising targeted to the membership of the National Computer Association, a network of independent computer retailers and technicians that have granted HealthAxis exclusive rights to market health insurance to their membership.

"We have a bunch of alliances in the pipeline," said Andrew Felder, executive vice president of strategy and business development for HealthAxis. "This is representative of one of the thrusts of our marketing strategies."

The company as well has agreed to be the exclusive direct marketer of health insurance on America Online and through the Lycos search engine and also has signed agreements to begin marketing through other Internet vehicles, including online computer concern CNET and the search engine Snap.

This week the company was scheduled to begin newspaper and radio ads in Los Angeles and in the Florida markets of Tampa and St. Petersburg, FL.

"Our emphasis is on building campaigns that drive traffic to the Web site," said Paula Cometto, senior vice president, account management, at Roska Direct, Montgomeryville, PA, the agency that handles HealthAxis' marketing efforts. "The No. 1 problem with people who have Web sites is that they are not getting qualified leads there."

The company is testing the print and radio ads in Florida and California because it has a better competitive position in those markets, Cometto said, and because they are two of the 19 states in which HealthAxis has been certified to sell insurance.

Cometto said her company is attempting to evolve the HealthAxis online advertising strategy from that of simply using branding messages to banners that are more targeted. Roska is seeking to reach those consumers who are most likely to need insurance, including people between jobs and small-business owners.

Within the next 30-60 days, the company expects to deploy a test of an e-mail capture system through interactive banner ads. Viewers who click on certain HealthAxis banners will be asked to submit their e-mail addresses if they wish to receive notices about HealthAxis.

"You have two options when you click on the banner," Cometto said. "You can go right to the site, or you can say, 'Yeah, I want to know more, but remind me later.' "

A direct mail effort also is being planned. As part of the alliance with the National Computer Association, HealthAxis will include materials in the group's monthly mailings to its 5,800 members, most of whom are computer resellers and will advertise in its monthly newsletter, according to Felder.

"An organization like the NCA is square-on the type of customers that we're looking to do business with," he said. "They are a network of small companies, which is perfect for HealthAxis because a key market for us is the small-business market. The majority of small businesses do not currently provide coverage for their employees."

Although HealthAxis currently offers insurance only for individuals, Felder said he expected to begin offering insurance programs for groups of 25 or less in the near future.

The alliance with the NCA is the first of several association alliances the company expects to launch, Felder said.

"The salient feature of what we're doing is that because we're a direct-sales vehicle, we can halve the cost of distribution and pass the savings on to consumers," he said.

Although much of the sales-transaction process takes place on line, HealthAxis also maintains a 20-person call center at its Norristown headquarters that is staffed seven days a week with licensed insurance agents to answer questions for current and prospective customers.

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