Exchange Readies Its New Website

Covered California, the new brand name for the state’s health benefit exchange, will unveil its new website next week, according to Oscar Hidalgo, director of communication and public affairs at the exchange.

Hidalgo spoke at last week’s exchange board meeting, presenting one of the first building blocks of the marketing structure, an informational website.

“We are just about to launch a consumer-friendly website at the end of the month,” Hidalgo said. He said the unveiling is expected to be Wednesday or Thursday next week.

Exchange officials plan to maintain the current website and update its design so it can be used for stakeholder information, Hidalgo said.

The new site — initially in two languages — is designed to help consumers in 13 languages, Hidalgo said.

“We will have it in English and Spanish, and there will be fact sheets available through website and downloadable, and available in all 13 Medi-Cal threshold languages,” he said. “We want to engage the consumer with a video, a cost calculator to give them some sense of what to expect in the later months this year. … This is our initial step, with drop-down boxes with the top tabs. This one’s in English, and it will be coming soon in other languages.”

Consumers will not be able to enroll on this website, Hidalgo said. That capability will be available in a future iteration of the site, he said. The exchange will open a toll-free 800 phone line to answer consumer questions soon after the website debuts, “as early as February,” Hidalgo said.

Fact sheets on the site will answer questions in seven specific areas:

  • Covered California’s purpose and benefits;
  • Changes in health care in 2014;
  • How to get coverage;
  • Explanation of the tax credit;
  • Information for small businesses;
  • Small business tax credit information; and
  • American Indian and Alaska native information.

The site will explain eligibility requirements for Covered California and the support services offered, including the service centers and assisters program.

“Like everything we’re doing, we’re going to continue to take input,” Hidalgo said. “We think a good website is one that is dynamic and can keep growing.”

Board member Robert Ross brought up one concern about the marketing effort at the meeting: Since some of the marketing targets Oct. 1 as the day when consumers can pre-enroll for coverage, Ross was concerned that might confuse some consumers.

“Most people view January 2014 as the ‘It,’ ” Ross said. “What are we saying to the media and consumers with another date?”

Hidalgo said the October date won’t interfere with the bigger deadline at the beginning of 2014.

“For us, our Super Bowl is Jan. 1,” Hidalgo said. He added that they plan to use the phrase “Countdown to Coverage” in marketing the earlier pre-enrollment.

“January first, 2014,” executive director Peter Lee said. “That’s when the world changes.”

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