Non-Healthcare.gov state exchanges untouched by Trump marketing cuts

The marketing budget cuts announced this week apply only to states that rely on the federal health insurance marketplace, Healthcare.gov.

Photo credit: Getty Images
Photo credit: Getty Images

The Trump administration’s decision to sharply cut marketing programs promoting Obamacare signups will not affect marcomms programs for state-based exchanges not run through Healthcare.gov, according to representatives from three exchanges.

The advertising budget for the open enrollment period that starts in November will be cut to $10 million, a drop of 90% from the $100 million spent by the Obama administration last year. Grants to roughly 100 nonprofit groups that help people enroll in health plans offered by the insurance marketplaces will be trimmed by about 43% to $36 million.

However, California’s healthcare-benefit exchange, Covered California, does not rely on any funding from the federal government for its operations, including marketing and outreach, deputy director of comms and PR Lizelda Lopez said. The organization’s contracts with PR AOR Ogilvy and marketing AOR Campbell Ewald remain intact, she said. Covered California has a budget of $111 million for marketing and outreach for this fiscal year, which began on July 1, Lopez added.

Ogilvy representatives declined to comment.

The marketing budget cuts announced this week apply only to states that rely on the federal health insurance marketplace, Healthcare.gov, explained Ben Rosen, a spokesperson for the New York State Department of Health.

"The federal announcement to slash spending on navigator assistance and advertising does not impact New York," he said, adding that New York State of Health handles its own marketing and PR. "This decision by the administration is short sighted and will likely hurt the individual insurance markets in those states."

Navigators, or third-party organizations or individuals that help people find healthcare plans, play an important role in raising awareness and helping consumers enroll in the state, said Rosen. The availability of in-person assistance and advertising not only helps consumers get covered, but also brings healthier people into the insurance markets.

"New York has and will continue to contract with navigator organizations at past funding levels," Rosen said. "Additionally, New York State of Health will continue to conduct its annual multi-faceted advertising campaign during the upcoming open enrollment period."

Since 2013, more than 3.6 million New Yorkers have enrolled in affordable coverage through the marketplace.

Similarly, the administration’s actions do not directly impact Access Health CT’s marketing approach, noted Andrea Ravitz, the organization’s director of marketing and sales. Access Health CT’s PR AOR is Global Strategy Group, which deferred comment to Ravitz.

"However, these actions do send mixed messages that create more uncertainty and questions for our consumers," Ravitz added.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, which has been raising awareness about state healthcare insurance exchanges that are run by the federal government, was not immediately available for comment.

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