Weber wins contract to promote DC health exchange

WASHINGTON: Washington DC's healthcare insurance exchange has hired Weber Shandwick to promote it among the uninsured population in the nation's capital.

WASHINGTON: Washington DC's healthcare insurance exchange has hired Weber Shandwick to promote it among the uninsured population in the nation's capital.

The firm won the one-year contract with four option years after a competitive search process run by the District of Columbia Health Benefit Exchange Authority. 

“[Weber has] considerable experience working with state health insurance marketplaces like ours,” said exchange communications director Richard Sorian, adding that the firm also has a “strong track record in creativity and with broad public-education campaigns."

Sorian had promoted the Affordable Care Act in a previous role as assistant secretary for public affairs at the Department of Health and Human Services before joining the Exchange Authority early this year.

Weber is also providing PR support for exchanges in California, Massachusetts, and Maryland. It is creating a campaign for all federally run exchanges for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, as well.

The budget for the DC contract is still being determined, Sorian said. It is understood that even during the bidding process, potential vendors were not clued in on the possible size of the account.

The campaign's target audience is an estimated 42,000 people, or 7% of the district's population, that does not have insurance. More than half of the people who fall into this category are African-American, according to agency search documents.

The scope of work is multifaceted, including creating an outreach strategy, PR, marketing, social media, and advertising. The district also expects that Weber will reach out to both corporate entities and faith-based organizations to boost knowledge of the exchange among consumers.

The window to create and launch a campaign will be tight, as enrollment in the exchange will begin October 1.

A Weber representative did not immediately return a request for comment.

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