Illinois looks for shop to promote insurance exchange

SPRINGFIELD, IL: The Illinois Department of Insurance is seeking a firm to create and implement a marketing and outreach strategy to promote its health insurance marketplace.

SPRINGFIELD, IL: The Illinois Department of Insurance is seeking a firm to create and implement a marketing and outreach strategy to promote its health insurance marketplace. 

The budget for the wide-ranging effort is expected to be in the six-figure range, but an exact amount is unknown. Earlier this month, Gov. Pat Quinn (D) said Illinois had been awarded a $115.8 million federal grant to fund the development of the marketplace. The budget will come from these funds, said Mike Claffey, deputy press secretary of healthcare for Quinn.

“Illinois is big state, and we're committed to getting the word out,” he said. “We hope that the firm we will hire will blanket the state for us and be sensitive to diverse populations that are in both urban and rural areas.”

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

Unlike similar PR contracts awarded or put out for bid in the last year, the winning firm will have the unique challenge of making sure the awareness effort includes a transition strategy from a partnership exchange to a state-based exchange, according to the 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 RFP.

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 state holding the option for a two-year extension. Responses to the RFP are due May 8.

Earlier this week, Health Care Service Corporation, the operator of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield plan in Illinois, launched “Be Covered Illinois.” The goal of the campaign is to explain the new health insurance options available under the Affordable Care Act to the uninsured.

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

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