Colorado’s state run healthcare exchange will spend an additional $4.2 million in marketing and advertising to boost its dismal enrollment figures.
This comes on top of $21 million the state already spent to encourage people to sign up for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act.
Only about 6,000 people have used the Connect for Health Colorado website to sign up for private health insurance since Oct. 1, according to the latest figures. Officials are hoping the new media blitz — involving ads on practically all media from TV to online — will increase those numbers.
The marketing campaign is called “Made in Colorado” and will feature locals talking to one another about the benefits of Obamacare.
“We designed our Marketplace to reflect what is important in our state — an open, competitive environment with lots of choice,” said CEO Patty Fontneau in an announcement on the group’s website. “As we communicate and educate about the new health insurance options, we wanted to have Coloradans speaking to fellow Coloradans.”
The ads are far more benign than the controversial “brosurance” ads that most recently featured a young woman gushing about how easy it is to get birth control under her healthcare plan and hoping that bedding a man is just as easy.
Those ads were financed by another group, the Colorado Consumer Health Initiative.
Republican Rep. Cory Gardner, a vocal critic of Obamacare, has slammed the Colorado exchange as a “disaster” in the early weeks of its rollout, calling the initial $21 million spent on marketing a waste of money. Only 226 people signed up in the first week.
“Look, if you spent $21 million on a bake sale and sold 10 dozen muffins, that would be a complete disaster,” Gardner said in early October.
While the numbers have improved, they are still far from the goal of signing up 136,000 people in the first year. Colorado has an estimated 350,000 people who are uninsured.
“It touches our community constantly, the young, creative community,” said Jasper Gray, a director with the Denver-based film and production company that shot the television spots. “I see it time and time again, people who get sick or hurt don’t have insurance, and then can’t get it because then they have a pre-existing condition. Our whole community is one that needs to think carefully about health insurance and should benefit from these changes.”
In addition to the new ads, Connect for Health Colorado is also holding educational and outreach events around the state.
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