NY christens state health insurance marketplace

NEW YORK: New York State put an official brand on its healthcare exchange on Tuesday morning: NY State of Health. Ketchum is working with sister Omnicom firm DDB to support the network.

NEW YORK: New York State put an official brand on its healthcare exchange on Tuesday morning: NY State of Health.

Donna Frescatore, executive director of the state Health Benefit Exchange, and DDB New York executive group account director Leo Mamorsky announced the branding Tuesday morning on a webcast, just over a month before open enrollment via the exchange is set to begin on October 1.

Ketchum, which is serving as a subcontractor to sister Omnicom Group agency DDB, pitched reporters about the event. Ketchum is handling PR and managing social media planning on the account, which will run through December 2014. DDB's contact is worth $40.1 million, though it is unknown exactly what portion will go to Ketchum.

“We can't think of a more important initiative than providing affordable healthcare to New Yorkers,” Mamorsky said on the webcast, noting that “a brand doesn't exist in a vacuum; it must be rooted in the promise of an organization or product.”

The exchange's website, NYStateOfHealth.NY.gov, was also unveiled on the webcast. The portal includes a tax credit and premium estimator and an FAQ section. It also explains what a healthcare exchange is, with key dates for consumers to remember as the October 1 open-enrollment period approaches.

State health insurance exchanges have become a lucrative source of business for PR agencies in the past year. While the PR budget for the New York exchange is not known, Illinois has awarded FleishmanHillard a one-year contract worth up to $35 million to implement a marketing strategy to promote its insurance marketplace.  

The organization running California's exchange, branded Covered California, hired Weber Shandwick in May for a $12 million contract to develop a creative marketing and paid media campaign that will run through April 2015. Ogilvy is also helping the state with media relations and community outreach touting the insurance marketplace. The WPP Group firm's budget for state exchange work was increased from $900,000 to $17 million earlier this year.

Last month, the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services allocated an additional $33 million to Weber for its work to boost awareness of federally run insurance exchanges mandated by the Affordable Care Act. The federal government is running exchanges in states where governors have declined to set up marketplaces on their own.

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