PPACA ad blitz begins

Public exchanges and their friends are ramping up efforts to get the uninsured to sign up.

Enrollment kicks off Oct. 1.

Managers of Covered California say it will spend $45 million on “paid media” from now through March, and another $35 million from April through the end of 2014. The campaign includes English television and radio ads, Spanish television ads, and digital and social media.

The TV spots hit the airwaves this week in three test markets -- San Diego, Sacramento and Chico-Redding.

Covered California managers say they’ll have more than 400 service center reps ready to answer questions about the exchange by October, and thousands of certified enrollment counselors and agents promoting the exchange in the field within the next few months.

In Maryland, managers of that state’s Maryland Health Connection exchange said they expect to spend millions of dollars on TV, radio, print and outdoor ads and digital media between now and March.

Maryland exchange managers found that 71 percent of the uninsured people in their state have watched, attended or listened to a Baltimore Ravens football game in the past 12 months so they’ll work with the team to help promote their exchange.

Smaller states have tried to use volunteers to stretch their budgets.

In Vermont, for example, 60 volunteers have helped create television and radio ads for the Vermont Health Connect exchange.

Retailers are rolling out their own exchange promotional campaigns.

Walgreens, for example, has said it will be posting signs about PPACA and the public exchange system in stores throughout the country. Walgreens also has worked with the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association to post information about PPACA at LearnAboutReform.com.

CVS Caremark says it will be holding educational events and displaying PPACA brochures at more than 7,400 retail stores.

In Maryland, for example, Maryland Health Connection will be distributing exchange information in 170 CVS stores.

But some of the campaigns sound relatively modest relative to the total size of the U.S. market.

Enroll America, an organization that’s trying to promote PPACA in states with federally run exchanges, said, for example, that its organizers have attended “more than a dozen” events in Texas in the past few weeks and given “hundreds” of backpacks to consumers in Florida. 

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