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Manchester Unity moves its marketing campaign west

A NEW player with a familiar name has arrived in WA with ambitious plans to capture a share of the lucrative health insurance market.

National group Manchester Unity has embarked on a serious marketing campaign to attract new members.

The name is not entirely new to WA, however its previous incarnation was as a locally managed group.

Since then Manchester Unity NSW has acquired a national licence and is working hard to attract members all over the country.

In WA the target is 5,000 members, or 1 per cent of the market, which is dominated by the two major operators – HBF and Medibank Private.

Manchester Unity national sales and service manager Jason Potter-Rose said the group undertook a feasibility study in late February that revealed some opportunities in the WA market.

It’s a competitive market, with HBF and Medibank Private accounting for more than 90 per cent of the market, he said.

The opportunities in the market, according to Manchester Unity, lie with the technology the group is offering members.

“It’s a hard market. The market is really people who have got health insurance with other providers,” Mr Potter-Rose said.

“There is a small market for (new members) who are coming up to 30.

“But you’ve got to get the mix right.

The other big advantage of Manchester Unity is its Hicaps card, which authorises bill payment by Manchester Unity on the spot leaving the member to just pay the gap, he said.

“Members don’t have to go to the provider to be reimbursed,” Mr Potter-Rose said.

This technology has allowed Manchester Unity to operate without any customer service outlets or shopfronts.

Manchester Unity claims its national hospital contracts mean members don’t have to meet co-payments to cover hospital accommodation.

“Other groups have agreements with the hospitals where the patient pays a proportion and the fee and the health insurance company covers the rest,” Mr Potter-Rose said.

Manchester Unity covers 100 per cent of the accommodation and theatre fees.”

HBF general manager, member value, Ricki Smith, said HBF found its members would prefer co-payment when they go into hospital, rather than pay higher premiums.

“With Hicaps we don’t believe it provides the level of security that we require,” she said.

Manchester Unity currently has 60,000 members Australia wide, with the bulk of those in NSW.

In WA, a marketing campaign including radio and press advertising will precede a direct marketing push focused on member associations and unions.

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