October 1. Another nail in Loyalty’s coffin?

In the U.S., October 1, 2013 marks an important launch point for the Affordable Care Act. Everyone is talking about Obamacare’s obvious impact on insurance and health care and preventive medicine. There are also far-reaching consequences that will affect every business – and every brand.

22 million people are uninsured. Clearly they’re going to be changed. Research says 90% or more will eventually sign up.

But there are also millions (I’d guess tens of millions) who have been chained to a job to stay insured. Afraid to quit, afraid to start a business, held back by fear of losing health insurance. Their time in service is not a measure of loyalty. It’s the byproduct of entrapment. That ends January 1, when portability takes away those fears. Coverage not available? No longer a problem. Pre-existing condition? Not relevant. Who but the least able would want to work for Papa John’s* Pizza? loyalty

What are the implications for your business? Employee loyalty, already a myth after the disappearance of employer loyalty, dwindles. Brand loyalty may also diminish; even today it can be a delusion – brands should be loyal to customers, not the other way around.

Entrepreneurial startups will change the competitive landscape. The role of health benefits in recruiting and keeping the best people may change profoundly. Will key people leave you? Will talented people become available to you?

Be prepared. The next three months could be an e-ticket ride.

*I’ve never tasted a Papa John’s Pizza. I’m not able to comment objectively on their quality or yumminess. Knowing, however, their refusal to offer health care coverage (or sick days) to the people piling on the pepperoni, I confess to being dubious. Will the pie-assembler desperate to pay her rent come to work despite flu symptoms? I believe I’ll continue to avoid them.

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