Illinois awards FH $35m healthcare exchange job

SPRINGFIELD, IL: The Illinois Department of Insurance has awarded FleishmanHillard a one-year contract worth up to $35 million to implement a marketing strategy to promote its health insurance marketplace.

SPRINGFIELD, IL: The Illinois Department of Insurance has awarded FleishmanHillard a one-year contract worth up to $35 million to implement a marketing strategy to promote its health insurance marketplace.

The state is expecting 486,000 people to enroll in the exchange by the end of next year. The contract is for one year, with the option for a two-year extension.

The state has indicated Fleishman's victory via an intent to award notice. The award won't be finalized for two weeks to allow others in contention to protest the award. Assuming none does, the firm would beat out 12 other agencies, including GolinHarris, ad shop JWT, and Weber Shandwick, which is also doing PR for the Maryland, California, and federally run exchanges overseen by Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

The marketplaces were mandated by the Affordable Care Act for consumers to compare and buy insurance. Enrollment in the exchanges begins October 1.

FleishmanHillard will conduct market research to inform the statewide public awareness campaign, as well as adjustments in PR strategy. The agency will also create and test a brand for the marketplace that will successfully make its concept understandable for Illinois citizens. Paid media is also part of the contract.

Unlike similar PR contracts awarded or put out for bid in the last year, the winning firm will ensure the awareness effort includes a transition strategy from a partnership exchange to a state-based exchange, according to the contract RFP. Illinois is one of seven states that chose to share the burden of launching and managing an exchange with the federal government.

Target audiences for all efforts are expected to include ethnically diverse groups such as Latinos and African-Americans, as well as young adults and low-income and moderate-income individuals and families. People in these groups are most likely to be uninsured, according to the contract's RFP.

In addition to this contract, FleishmanHillard has been working with the Missouri Foundation for Health and the Cover Missouri Coalition to build awareness of the Missouri Health Insurance Marketplace.

Fleishman's CEO Dave Senay deferred comment on the win to the client. A state representative confirmed the win but declined to comment further until the award is finalized.

Oregon recently awarded branding agency North a contract worth just less than $10 million to promote its health insurance exchange.

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