Oregon assigns $10m deal to tout health exchange

PORTLAND, OR: Oregon has awarded branding agency North a contract worth just less than $10 million to promote its health insurance exchange, known as Cover Oregon.

PORTLAND, OR: Oregon has awarded branding agency North a contract worth just less than $10 million to promote its health insurance exchange, known as Cover Oregon. The agency hire comes as Florida is shopping a $2 million contract to promote its insurance marketplace.

The exchanges were mandated by the Affordable Care Act. They are marketplaces where consumers can compare and buy insurance plans. Enrollment via the exchanges is scheduled to begin in October.

Oregon selected North after a competitive RFP process. The wide-ranging contract includes PR, social media, and paid media activities. The agency will subcontract earned media to Metropolitan Group.

Cover Oregon's outreach will target 600,000 uninsured Oregonians.

“We're most excited at the prospect of supporting an innovative and progressive program to bring affordable healthcare to all Oregonians for the first time,” said North MD Rebecca Armstrong. “As for the challenge, there is a great need for information. In order for Cover Oregon to succeed, we need to make sure every Oregonian hears about the program and understands how it will help them.”

The agency will plan an editorial board tour of Oregon's major daily newspapers, as well as schedule interviews with radio shows that have listeners in both the general and Spanish-language markets.

Its digital strategy will include channels such as Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn to get the word out about the exchange and how to enroll.

North's contract will run through December 2014. The agreement includes three additional option years.

“We reviewed proposals, interviewed many candidates, and found that North and Metropolitan Group had the best mix of skills and experience to help us reach Oregonians and connect them to health coverage,” said Lisa Morawski, communications manager for Cover Oregon.

Meanwhile, Florida's Department of Elder Affairs has won a grant to promote its insurance exchange, which will be federally run. It is conducting an RFP process to find an agency to promote it. The state said last year that it would not set up its own exchange, meaning the federal government would have to step in to run it.

Despite this, the state's Elder Affairs Department applied for a federal grant to promote the marketplaces because it felt education was needed.

 “It was an opportunity to educate the public, especially seniors about their healthcare options,” said Andrea Gary, PR manager in the Elder Affairs Department.

The contract, worth just more than $2 million, is for one year and has the option of a 12-month extension. It includes branding, PR, marketing, and media buying, according to the RFP. The deadline for applicants is April 5.

Last year, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services hired Weber Shandwick to create promotional materials and strategies to raise awareness about federally run insurance exchanges. That contract was worth $3.1 million.

Last month, healthcare software and IT company EngagePoint selected TogoRun and Imre as agency partners as it positions itself as a resource for implementing state and private health insurance exchanges. The company named TogoRun its PR AOR and Imre its marketing agency.

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