With less than five months until Colorado’s new online health insurance exchange opens for business this fall, officials are concerned that few state residents have heard of it.
This week, it became the first state to launch a public awareness campaign with television, print, radio and billboard ads that will cost $2 million and run two months. The TV ad shows a woman at her kitchen table scrolling through health plan information on the Connect for Health Colorado website. The voice over says the website lets people shop and buy a health plan online.
“When health care companies compete, there is only one winner: you,” says the voice over, as the woman jumps up and down as if celebrating a sports victory. The 30-second ad makes no mention that the new website is a result of the 2010 federal health law known to most Americans as Obamacare.
Like other states' exchanges — now sometimes called "marketplaces" — Colorado's will open for enrollment Oct. 1, selling coverage that will take effect next January. Colorado is one of 17 states approved by the Obama administration to operate its own online marketplace. Other states — including Kansas — declined to set up their own marketplaces and so will have a federally run marketplaces.
While Colorado is the first state to launch a marketing campaign this year, several others, including Oregon and Kentucky, plan to start next month.
Some officials have been hesistant to begin their marketing efforts too long before consumers can start shopping for coverage. Others want to start early because they believe that it will take a concerted effort to counteract the misinformation and lack of information. Colorado officials say they plan to run additional ads closer to the marketplace’s opening date.
An April survey by the Kaiser Famly Foundation found four in ten Americans (42 percent) are unaware that the Affordable Care Act is still the law of the land — including 12 percent who believe the law has been repealed by Congress, 7 percent who believe it has been overturned by the Supreme Court and 23 percent who say they don’t know enough to say what the status of the law is.
Myung Oak Kim, director of communications and outreach for the Colorado exchange, said internal research showed just 10 percent of Coloradans were familiar with the marketplace. “We needed to get a wider awareness of our organization in a short amount of time to help prepare people for the changes that will be taking place,” she said.
The Colorado marketplace hopes to sign up about 136,000 people in the first year of operation.
The state has about 800,000 uninsured people and a total potential base of 1 million consumers, including those who have small group or individual coverage today. About 500,000 residents are expected to be eligible for premium subsidies based on their income.
The exchange plans to spend at least $10.5 million to provide in person consumer assistance to help people sign up for coverage in the first year and may get additional money from private foundations. Funding for consumer assistance will vary widely by state, with states running their own marketplaces spending more money generally than those relying on the federal exchange.
Kansas is among the states relying on a federal exchange and its "navigator grant" funding will be capped at $600,000.
KHI News Service coverage of Medicaid expansion→ Medicaid Access Coalition launches online "ticker" showing foregone federal dollars (2/13/14)
→ KHI report: Nearly 182,000 Kansans in the ‘Eligibility Gap’ (1/11/14)
→ House speaker says Medicaid expansion is "up to the governor" (1/10/14)
→ KS Senate president says Medicaid expansion unlikely to gain approval this session (1/7/14)
→ Profiles of the coverage gap: Kathleen Christian (1/6/14)
→ Efforts continue to expand Medicaid in Kansas and Missouri (1/6/14)
→ Hospital association hires former Bush HHS secretary to help craft a plan Kansas Republicans might support (12/23/13)
→ Iowa wins approval to expand Medicaid by using federal funds to buy private insurance (12/11/13)
→ White House officials hold call to urge Medicaid expansion in Kansas (11/21/13)
→ Republican governor talks up plan to expand Medicaid — his way (10/28/13)
→ Challenger says Brownback owes voters a decision on Medicaid expansion (10/22/13)
→ Nearly 5.2M Americans fall in coverage gap in states not expanding Medicaid (10/16/13)
→ Sebelius: Feds flexible on how states expand Medicaid (9/22/13)
→ Sebelius says Kansas and Missouri are missing the boat on Medicaid expansion (9/20/13)
→ Medicaid expansion coalition finds strength in numbers (9/17/13)
→ Republican Gov. Corbett proposes expanding Pennsylvania Medicaid (9/16/13)
→ Kansas lawmakers urged to consider Medicaid expansion by Wesley CEO (8/29/13)
→ Estimating maneuver could help more people gain from Obamacare: How the poor might qualify for Affordable Care Act subsidies in states that don't expand Medicaid (8/12/13)
→ Report: States not expanding Medicaid stand to benefit most from doing so (7/18/13)
→ CMS won’t penalize hospitals in states slow to expand Medicaid (5/14/13)
→ Insurer Centene: We can do Arkansas-style Medicaid (5/14/13)
→ The Arkansas Medicaid Model: What you need to know about the 'private option' (5/2/13)
→ Nothing to be done about coverage gap in states not expanding Medicaid, feds say (4/29/13)
→ Brownback says he's listening to Medicaid expansion proponents, opponents (4/5/13)
→ Oregon shows costs of putting Medicaid enrollees in private coverage (3/29/13)
→ Governor urged to expand Medicaid eligibility (3/27/13)
→ Arkansas Medicaid expansion attracts other states' interest (3/26/13)
→ Senate president prefers options remain open on Medicaid expansion (3/25/13)
→ States urged to expand Medicaid with private insurance (3/22/13)
→ Senate budget amendment underscores opposition to Medicaid expansion (3/21/13)
→ Study: Kansas employers face millions a year in possible penalties without Medicaid expansion (3/15/13)
→ More than 30 Kansas groups pushing for Medicaid expansion (3/12/13)
→ Health insurers see big opportunities in health law’s Medicaid expansion (3/8/13)
→ Medicaid expansion supporters to step up lobbying efforts (3/7/13)
→ Budget committee hears resolution opposing Medicaid expansion (2/22/13)
→ Legislators focusing on Medicaid expansion cost estimates (2/19/13)
→ Kansas hospital group study predicts expanding Medicaid would generate 4,000 jobs (2/18/13)
→ Brownback officials release their cost projections for Medicaid expansion (2/8/13)
→ Medicaid expansion bill introduced (1/22/13)
→ Kansas hospitals worried about loss of dollars for charity care (1/14/13)
→ Brownback compiling own estimate of Medicaid expansion cost (12/20/12)
→ Group urges Brownback to expand Medicaid eligibility (11/9/12)
→ Debate begins on possible Kansas Medicaid expansion (10/25/12)
→ Amerigroup CEO says states ‘need’ to go along with Medicaid expansion (7/11/12)
→ Kansas hospitals ready to get on with federal health reform, spokesman says (7/2/12)
→ Kansas AG claims partial victory in health reform case (6/29/12)
→ High court upholds Affordable Care Act, but ruling puts limits on Medicaid expansion (6/28/12)
→ Kansas Hospital Association: An opportunity for the Kansas Medicaid program
→ Americans for Prosperity-Kansas: Well-intentioned policies do more harm than good
→ Health Reform Resource Project: The cost of not expanding Medicaid
→ Rep. Jim Ward: Medicaid expansion essential for healthier Kansas
→ Rep. David Crum: Reasons for opposing Medicaid expansion
→ National Academy for State Health Policy: Much ado about Arkansas: Medicaid in the insurance exchange
→ Full health reform coverage
→ Full Medicaid coverage
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