Exchange Officials Seek To Clear Up Uncertainty About Coverage Options
California health benefit exchange officials are seeking to remove uncertainty about coverage options through marketing and outreach efforts, the Los Angeles Times reports (Gorman/Terhune, Los Angeles Times, 11/14).
About the Exchange
The federal health reform law requires states to launch online insurance marketplaces by 2014. California's exchange -- recently named Covered California -- primarily will serve individuals and small businesses.
Supporters hope that the exchange will function similar to websites like Amazon.com and Expedia.com so that users will be able to choose between various health plans through an easily navigable online store.
About 4.4 million Californians are expected to use the exchange by the end of 2016.
Officials plan to open registration for the exchange in October 2013.
Observers say that if the exchange cannot attract enough customers to balance insurers' risk pools, insurance premiums could increase and enrollment could decline (California Healthline, 9/18).
Officials plan to spend nearly $90 million next year to market the exchange (Los Angeles Times, 11/14).
Details of Television Outreach
The exchange's public relations plan states, "A number of popular television programs and personalities such as 'Grey's Anatomy,' 'Modern Family,' 'The Biggest Loser,' 'Dr. Oz' and others will be approached and pitched to incorporate story lines or mentions of health care reform that would reinforce campaign messages."
The plan also states that officials could explore the creation of a new reality television show about families living without health coverage.
Ogilvy Public Relations Worldwide has receivedÂ a $900,000 contract from exchange officialsÂ to coordinate communications and outreach efforts (California Healthline, 9/18).
Additional Outreach Efforts
In addition to using conventional marketing strategies, officials are planning to increase grass-roots efforts at churches, cultural events and schools to promote the exchange.
Officials say that Hispanic residents make up about half of the uninsured population in California. In response, the state is considering sponsoring professional and recreational soccer leagues, as well as working with bloggers popular with Hispanic women, to market the exchange (Los Angeles Times, 11/14).
Larry Levitt -- senior vice president of the Kaiser Family Foundation -- said that the state has to figure out how to reach various groups of people, who all "require a different strategy." He added, "Boring federal government public service announcements airing at 2 in the morning are not going to work."Anthony Wright -- executive director of the consumer group Health Access California -- said, "It is vital to the success of the exchange that we have mass enrollment on Day One" (Los Angeles Times, 11/14). This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.