Anthem’s Data Breach Response May Have Limited Harm to Brand

May 16, 2015 in News

Anthem’s massive cyberattack slightly harmed the company’s reputation with consumers, but overall the company’s image remains strong, according to a survey, the Indianapolis Business Journal‘s “The Dose” reports (Wall, “The Dose,” Indianapolis Business Journal, 5/11).

Background

In January, Anthem announced that hackers had accessed a database containing the personal information of 78.8 million of its customers, former customers and employees (iHealthBeat, 2/25).

The breach prompted several investigations by the federal government and the private sector (iHealthBeat, 2/10). According to “The Dose,” nearly 100 lawsuits seeking class-action status have been filed since the breach.

Survey Findings

The online survey, conducted by Los Angeles-based Wedbush Securities, asked 1,022 consumers about their perception of Anthem and other major insurers before and after the disclosure of cyberattack.

Prior to the data breach, 51% of consumers said Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield was a better brand than other insurers, according to the survey. That percentage dropped to 45% in the follow-up survey.

But the decline would have been as high as eight percentage points, if not for a 2% increase from consumers who previously did not view Anthem more favorably than its competitors.

According to “The Dose,” Anthem’s post-attack response was able to win some consumers over. Following the cyberattack, the company enrolled its customers in basic identity theft protection. It also gave customers the option to enroll in more comprehensive protection at no cost.

According to the survey, Anthem could still face some long-term business repercussions from the attack.

Prior to the disclosure of the data breach, 24% of consumers said they were willing to pay more for an Anthem plan, but that dropped to 21% in the follow-up survey. Among younger consumers who shop on the health insurance exchanges, the willingness to pay for an Anthem plan actually increased after the attack.

Wedbush analyst Sara James said, “We believe this could reflect the awareness of the younger exchange population to the proliferation of data breaches following hacking attacks on many large corporations and the willingness to pay more for a service that addresses the breach quickly and effectively” (“The Dose,” Indianapolis Business Journal, 5/11).

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