Kaiser plans 'Thrive' 2013 as exchanges take shape

OAKLAND, CA: Kaiser Permanente is planning the 10th season of its "Thrive" campaign, which will launch in August. It will differ from previous iterations because Kaiser will compete with other companies via healthcare exchanges.

OAKLAND, CA: Kaiser Permanente is planning the 10th season of its “Thrive” campaign, which will launch in August.

This year's outreach efforts will differ from previous iterations because Kaiser will compete with other insurance companies on exchanges mandated by the Affordable Care Act.

Open enrollment for the marketplaces will begin in October. By 2016, about 24 million consumers will get insurance through the exchanges, according to the Congressional Budget Office. Kaiser plans to be present on exchanges in states where it operates: California, Hawaii, Oregon, Colorado, Georgia, Ohio, Maryland, and Virginia, as well as Washington DC.

Longtime PR agency partner GolinHarris and ad agency Campbell Ewald will assist the company with outreach.

“The messaging will continue to focus on the great care Kaiser delivers, while also teaching people about health empowerment, which is their ability to chose who, how, and where they can get care,” said Christine Paige, SVP of marketing and internet services at Kaiser Permanente.

The specific messaging strategy and the aggressiveness with which Kaiser performs it will vary depending on the market, because some states are putting greater resources into promoting the exchanges than others. For instance, California is putting significant work into getting the word out about exchanges, while Georgia officials have declined to start their own exchange, instead leaving it up to the federal government to create one.

“We're still learning what the marketing efforts will be in those states,” Paige said.

Kaiser has already reached out to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, which is running the federal exchanges.

Last week, CMS gave Weber Shandwick an $8 million contract to promote federally run exchanges.

The exchanges will mean the 10th edition of Thrive will have a more pronounced focus on retention. The company will need to not only encourage customers with individual plans to stick with it, but have them switch their enrollment from the private market into the exchange. Many consumers will be eligible for federal subsidies to help pay for the cost of coverage if they do so.

Last year, Kaiser magnified its direct-to-consumer outreach, which it has experience with because it also works as a healthcare provider. Key messages included the importance of preventative screenings and the company's use of electronic healthcare records, which keeps track of previous procedures and allergies a patient has.

By the end of last year, membership jumped 131,000 to expand its base to more than 9 million. The company believes the Thrive campaign is a contributing factor to its success, Paige said.

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