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Aetna tops payers in web presence index

With health insurance exchanges opening Oct. 1, it will be essential that health plans pursue and keep up a high level of consumer awareness.

To evaluate how major payers have prepared for the transition, consultant Payer+Provider Syndicate has assessed their web traffic, the number of inbound links, and Google PageRank, and combined the numbers into an index.

The Payer Web Presence Index, released Thursday, combines data on traffic, inbound links, and site relevance to calculate how well health plans have marketed themselves to consumers. The index ranks only major managed care organizations operating in multiple state markets.

The seven major insurers with the best web presence, according to the index, are:

1. Aetna (529)

2. Cigna (451)

3. UnitedHealthcare (373)

4. Humana (333)

5. Kaiser Permanente (323)

6. Blue Cross Blue Shield Association (311)

7. Anthem (WellPoint) (230)

"The importance of having a well-conceived web presence will only increase in 2014 and beyond… More and more people will be responsible for selecting their health plans," said Adam Powell (pictured), president of Payer+Provider Syndicate, in a news release. "Web strategies that would have been adequate three years ago will no longer suffice."

One unexpected ranking was that Anthem had a stronger web presence than its parent, WellPoint, he said. Historically, some managed care organizations have maintained separate branding in different markets. "Going forward, payers may wish to consider adopting unified branding across markets in order to strengthen their relationships with consumers," Powell said.

The index was calculated by using data from Alexa and Google captured on Sept. 9. Estimates of site traffic were measured by a proprietary toolbar which reports traffic data to Alexa. Google PageRank data were used to assess Google's perception of the relative importance of the sites.

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