In the six years since the Affordable Care Act became law, health insurance companies—as well as nearly every other segment of the healthcare industry—have dramatically changed the way they market their goods and services.

One of the most significant changes: more focus on the end consumer. With millions of consumers now required to purchase insurance, insurers are increasingly using sponsorship to build preference and encourage healthy lifestyles.

“The Affordable Care Act has accelerated the trend of moving to more consumer decision-making about healthcare coverage. Most people still get coverage through employers, but consumers are becoming a bigger part of the market,” said Christine Paige, senior vice president of marketing and digital services with Kaiser Permanente Foundation, which partnered with the NBA in early 2015.

If that wasn’t enough, another development could soon make a significant impact in the health insurance category: industry consolidation.

In a move that would create the nation’s largest healthcare company, Anthem, Inc. in 2015 announced plans to acquire Cigna Corp. The $54 billion acquisition—which still needs to pass regulatory approval—would knock UnitedHealth Group into second place among the country’s largest insurers.

Other companies also are joining the consolidation spree. Aetna Inc. last year announced a $37 billion deal to acquire Humana Inc. while Centene Corp. unveiled plans for a $6.8 billion merger with Health Net, Inc. Both deals have been approved by shareholders but have yet to gain approval by antitrust regulators.

While it remains to be seen if the deals will past muster—and what brands will remain—industry consolidation could prompt more interest in national properties as the newly combined companies look to engage consumers across a larger marketing footprint.

Where Health Insurance Companies Spend Money
Where Health Insurance Companies Spend Money

The Most Active Health Insurance Companies (By Number Of Deals)
The Most Active Health Insurance Companies (By Number Of Deals)