Hugh McQuaid photo
Lt. Gov. Nancy Wyman, who co-chairs the Insurance Exchange Board. (Hugh McQuaid photo)

Organizers of the state’s health insurance exchange outlined its new $15 million marketing campaign Monday designed to inform residents of their insurance options before the virtual marketplace opens for enrollment in October.

At a Hartford press conference, Access Health CT’s Chief Marketing Officer Jason Madrak said the goal of the marketing effort, which began this month with 30-second TV and radio spots, is initially to reach the state’s uninsured residents. He said there’s currently 344,000 people in the state without health coverage, which is roughly 10 percent of Connecticut’s population.

“The goal of this paid media effort is really simple: It’s to make sure that we have a program that is going to reach out to all the uninsured residents here in the state,” he said. “. . . and let them know that there is a new system, a new marketplace coming where they can actually go and get coverage.”

The goal is to reach at least 100,000 of those 344,000 uninsured residents.

The two ads which already have begun airing are the beginning of a campaign which will see TV and radio-style commercials along with ads in print media. Later, 60-second ads will begin running in the state’s cities, including ads recorded for Spanish-speaking outlets.

Lt. Gov. Nancy Wyman, who attended Monday’s press conference and also is co-chairwoman of the exchange board, praised the scope of the new marketing effort.

“Some of us have been involved in big campaigns, but this is one of the best run that I’ve ever seen,” she said. “We will be touching into all neighborhoods, from the Greenwichs to the Hartfords.”

Madrak said the paid media ads will be coupled with a ground campaign. In addition to an online marketplace for residents to review their coverage options, the health exchange will set up brick-and-mortar locations where employees will be able to answer questions and assist with enrollment.

Representatives of Access Health CT also will be present at fairs and street festivals throughout the state as well as twice canvassing certain neighborhoods once the exchange is ready for enrollment.

“We will be knocking literally on about 120,000 doors twice over the course of the open enrollment period, again, to get right in front of the individual that we need to talk to,” he said. “. . . If you just have a media campaign without that ground effort, I can guarantee that that will not be successful.”

Access Health CEO Kevin Counihan said the outreach and enrollment campaign is complicated in part because public awareness of the Affordable Care Act, the federal law that created the exchange, is very low.

“In fact, according to a recent Kaiser poll, 12 percent of the population thinks the law has been repealed. So there’s a lot of opportunity for education, which we actually think is an advantage,” he said.

In 2011, the state received a $116 million grant from the federal government to design and build the exchange. The exchange, which has re-branded itself Access Health CT, now boasts about 42 employees and is located at its new office space in downtown Hartford.

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