A leading health insurer


Document the process that customers use when shopping for health insurance though a government-operated exchange     


Our client had begun to offer its health insurance products through a new state-run exchange. The regulations that defined this exchange left insurance companies with little indication of how consumers ultimately chose their coverage. In addition, tight restrictions on the content of insurers’ offerings left no room for those companies to differentiate themselves to consumers shopping at the exchange.

Our client needed to know what paths consumers followed when purchasing insurance through the exchange, what factors influenced those purchase decisions, and how an insurer could take steps to drive consumers to choose its products on the exchange.


Epley contacted 70 consumers and engaged them in hour-long conversations via telephone. Through active listening and strategic questioning, our interviewers encouraged respondents to reveal the behaviors and motivations that led them to make the choices they made while shopping.

Our line of questioning ranged well beyond the experience at the exchange. We traced consumers’ history of health insurance coverage and their attitudes toward their own health and toward health care.  

We distilled each discussion into a narrative consisting primarily of direct quotes from the consumer. We coded and analyzed that data to prepare a final report.


Drawing on our conclusions and recommendations, we provided the client with fresh customer intelligence, including…

  • Assessing whether future participation on the exchange was worthwhile
  • Pinpointing the moments when consumers were most likely to be influenced by our client’s branding efforts
  • Identifying six distinct types of shoppers and which of those types our client should target
  • Alerting our client to business processes that made it vulnerable to customer loss

We gave our client its first exposure to what customers think and do while purchasing health insurance through the relatively new and mysterious arena of the government-run exchange.