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MeHAF Announces Public Education Campaign on New Health Insurance Marketplace

MeHAF Announces Public Education Campaign on New Health Insurance Marketplace

MeHAF announced this week that it will be supporting a statewide public information campaign to educate consumers and small businesses about the new Health Insurance Marketplace. To promote greater public awareness, MeHAF has engaged Burgess Advertising & Marketing of Portland to develop and assist in the execution of the campaign.

The development of Health Insurance Marketplaces, formerly called “exchanges,” is the centerpiece of the federal Affordable Care Act (ACA). Yet, an August Kaiser Family Foundation poll found that nationally only a third of the public say they’ve heard about the new Marketplaces in their state. 

“Maine people need to know that starting October 1, 2013, the Health Insurance Marketplace will be the place they can find quality, affordable health plans for coverage starting January 1, 2014. This is particularly important for people who are currently uninsured or working for employers who do not provide health insurance,” notes Dr. Wendy Wolf, President and CEO of the foundation. “More importantly, many Maine people will qualify for advanced tax credits that will substantially lower their monthly premiums when they sign up for a plan through the Marketplace. This premium assistance provides an unprecedented opportunity to expand the availability of affordable, comprehensive health insurance to nearly all Maine people.”

While states operating their own Marketplaces have developed multi-pronged public education campaigns to help people understand their options and obligations, states like Maine that have opted to have the federal government run its Marketplace don’t have the same level of resources to support a broad, coordinated approach for a public education and marketing campaign. 

To fill this void, MeHAF decided to take a proactive, direct role in developing a state wide public outreach and education campaign to promote the new Marketplace to Maine people who are uninsured and underinsured. “Helping people who currently cannot afford coverage learn about and enroll in free or low-cost, high quality plans supports our mission to promote access to quality health care and improve the health of everyone in Maine.” said Dr. Wolf.

This new education and marketing campaign is designed to complement federal efforts guided by the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services to publicize the Marketplace.  It also builds on work the foundation has supported in partnership with ten nonprofit organizations that have conducted health reform outreach and education since June 2010. These groups will be working closely with Western Maine Community Action (WMCA) and the Maine Lobstermen’s Association which are the two groups that received federal funding to train certified assisters to help Maine people and small business understand and enroll in the new health plans.
 
“WMCA is pleased and proud to be the lead in the Maine Community Action Network (Maine CAN), a consortium of eight nonprofit community action programs that have been selected to be the main navigator for Maine’s Health Insurance Marketplace,” said Fenwick Fowler, Executive Director of WMCA.

“Maine CAN has worked for over 40 years to help low-income Mainers lift themselves out of poverty through education and training.  We have long understood the relationship between income insecurity, health, and access to health care.  That’s why WMCA was excited to participate in MeHAF’s health reform outreach and education group since 2010.”  Fowler added, “As the lead navigator, our network will work hand-in-hand with MeHAF and their public education campaign.  Maine CAN will provide the trained ‘boots on the ground,’- the certified assisters- and MeHAF’s campaign will help get the word out about where and how to get assistance to enroll in new, more affordable health plans.  We expect to have over 65 trained and certified assisters working in every area of Maine by October 1.”

Maine's new Health Insurance Marketplace will provide an online insurance store for new health plans offered by Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield as well as Maine’s new nonprofit health insurer, Maine Community Health Options.  Enrollment through the Health Insurance Marketplace begins on October 1, 2013, and ends March 31, 2014.

The Marketplace campaign is already gearing up, and is likely to include paid advertising on television and in other media; use of Facebook, Twitter and other social media; news articles, materials and local grassroots efforts across the state.  In addition, MeHAF will roll out a new website, "enroll207," at the end of September that provides Maine-specific information about health plan options and offers a handy zip code locator that will help people across Maine locate certified assisters in their communities. The enroll207 site will also provide a direct link to HealthCare.gov, the federal Health Insurance Marketplace website, to purchase coverage.

Burgess Advertising & Marketing is a Portland-based firm with over 26 years of experience developing, planning and executing effective marketing campaigns for businesses and non-profit organizations throughout the state, with a particular focus on health care. Owner Meredith Strang Burgess is a former three-term state representative who chaired the House Health and Human Services committee.

MeHAF’s health reform outreach and education grant partners include:
•    CareParters / MaineHealth
•    Consumers for Affordable Health Care
•    Eastern Area Agency on Aging
•    Legal Services for the Elderly
•    Maine Equal Justice Partners
•    Maine Medical Association/Maine Medical Education Trust
•    Maine Migrant Health Program
•    Maine People’s Resource Center
•    Maine Primary Care Association
•    Somali Culture and Development Association

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