MIAMI (AP) — In less than three months, uninsured Floridians will be able to purchase medical insurance online under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA).
Making sure average citizens understand how it works will be a Herculean task accompanied by a massive marketing blitz promoting the biggest expansion of the social safety net since Medicare.
Health insurers will spend millions on ads pushing their plans and the federal government is also launching a multi-million dollar campaign, targeting libraries, gyms and concerts. Health clinics and non-profits will also be joining the advertising mix.
That means Florida residents are about to get hit with a ton of information designed to walk them through the enrollment process, but the feds and insurers must also find a way to package the information so it doesn’t end up confusing residents even more.
“People are a little bit intimidated — not knowing what to expect, not knowing what the outcome will be — but the resource will hopefully allay some of the fears,” said Renard Murray, a regional administrator with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS).
The federal government’s marketing strategy includes everything from door-to-door walks, working with churches, partnering with local mayors and a massive social media presence, including phone apps, Facebook, Twitter and Flickr campaigns.
Recently, Murray was wrapping up a presentation for students at Florida International University in Miami, one of nearly a dozen presentations he’d done over three days, along with a half dozen media interviews.
In Broward County, state Rep. Richard Stark is working with several other lawmakers on a campaign to help educate and enroll residents. Stark, who is also an insurance agent, is already getting calls from confused constituents and insurance clients.
“All these people started saying, ‘I thought I didn’t have to do anything, that I would just start getting Obamacare,” said the Weston Democrat.
Seventy-eight percent of uninsured adults don’t know about opportunities that will be available to them in 2014 under PPACA, according to Enroll America, a nonprofit group sponsoring a national campaign that includes home visits and passing out brochures at farmers markets and churches.
But the federal government still hasn’t released information about which insurers are offering plans in Florida and how much premiums, co-pays and deductibles will cost under those plans. The rates will likely come out in September.