CHICAGO (AP) — Illinois officials plan to launch a long-delayed, $33 million advertising campaign to inform residents about a new health insurance marketplace Tuesday, the ads first appearing on the same day the marketplace goes live with details of benefits available under President Barack Obama's health care law.
The Get Covered Illinois ad campaign will start slowly with full-color newspaper ads in 50 cities, said Kelly Sullivan, chief marketing and communication officer for the marketplace. She provided copies of the ads to The Associated Press.
Sullivan said radio and TV ads won't start until officials make sure the web-based marketplace and a call center are working smoothly and that enough trained workers are ready to help people sign up for insurance. Hundreds of outreach workers are awaiting required certification in Illinois because of a delay getting them through a federal training program.
The campaign, orchestrated by St. Louis-based FleishmanHillard, gets underway as a new survey shows six out of 10 Illinois adults don't know about the marketplace or that it will offer many people financial help paying the cost of insurance. The findings, released Monday by the nonpartisan Commonwealth Fund, come from a random sample telephone survey of 470 Illinoisans conducted July 15 through Sept. 8.
About 1.8 million Illinois residents are uninsured, 15 percent of the population. The Affordable Care Act requires most Americans to have insurance coverage or pay fines. The marketplaces, one in every state, offer a way for consumers to comparison shop for insurance and to see if they qualify for tax credits to help pay the cost.
"We know the majority of adults in our state are unaware of the marketplace," Sullivan said. "The idea (of the print ads) is to get the name into the consciousness of Illinois residents."
Later this fall, the campaign will address three barriers to purchasing insurance: cost, confusion and complacency, Sullivan said.
Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services Director Julie Hamos said Monday in Chicago that she doesn't think people should sign up the first time they sit down and look at the marketplace website.
"This is complicated. There's a lot of choices, there's a lot to think about ... and that's OK," Hamos said during a speech to women lawyers. "There's no reason people should feel they have to rush in."