$6 million media blitz on Affordable Care Act is coming to Nevada

A $6 million advertising blitz to tell uninsured Nevadans how to get health benefits kicks off in earnest next month.

Communications Officer CJ Bawden told the Silver State Health Insurance Exchange board Thursday that the ad campaign will target uninsured Nevadans through media outlets they are most likely to see — including an emphasis on digital media, given that that’s how many of them get their news.

He said the campaign started online July 15 but expands to TV and other outlets Sept. 15, aimed primarily at the so-called young invincibles, the many healthy 20-somethings who don’t think they need health insurance.

The target population, he said, is more than 40 percent Hispanic and nearly 40 percent young adults.

“The goal is to have 84 percent of the eligible population see our message 24 times,” Bawden told the board.

He said phase one is education, telling people that the Affordable Care Act requires them to buy insurance coverage by next year.

When questioned about the tone of TV ads basically designed to scare people about the law’s requirements and potential fines for not getting coverage, Bawden said phase one is designed to get their attention.

“Over three or four weeks, we want to make a large impact and get our name out there to these people,” he said.

He said phase two, which he referred to as “enroll now,” will push more of the benefits along with the affordability — including subsidies for those with lower incomes that will cover a large portion of the premium costs.

“First you have to get their attention,” he said.

Bawden and Silver State Exchange director Jon Hager both said focus groups recommended that approach.

“Our focus groups said let people know there’s a fine (for not getting insurance),” Hager said. “They said it’s a serious matter; we want it taken seriously.”

More than 40 percent of the ads will hit TV, and 30 percent will be in Spanish. There also is a heavy focus on pop-up ads on websites frequented by young adults and a significant number of radio ads. Billboards and so-called “wrap-arounds” on such things as buses are getting some of the business.

Newspapers are less of a focus — just 9 percent — because, Bawden said, many young adults get their news online or through TV.

The newsprint ads will primarily be in the classified sections where those young people tend to look for jobs, he said.

In the “enroll now” phase, Bawden said there will be more emphasis on the benefits, how to actually sign up and get an insurance plan and how to get subsidies that offset some of the cost. Hager said much of that will direct people to the exchange at nevadahealthlink.com because that’s where they will be able to get those subsidies.

Board Chairwoman Barbara Smith Campbell said the uninsured can buy a plan from any provider.

“But the exchange is the only place they can get the subsidy,” she said.

She said the goal is to sign up and insure 118,000 Nevadans.

The initial rates for health insurance from four major providers were rolled out about two weeks ago. They range from about $120 a month for a 20-something in Southern Nevada to $975 a month for a rural resident older than 60 in the baseline “Silver Plan.” The good news for most low-income people is that the majority of that premium can be covered by a subsidy. Hager said, for example, a 20-something making $15,000 a year or less would pay just $44 a month of that premium cost.

Subsidies of different amounts are available for everyone up to a family of four making $96,000 a year.

Open enrollment begins Oct. 1, and Hager said the exchange will be ready to help people work their way through the process and sign them up with a provider.

Those seeking more information on the process and details of the available plans in their area can find it at nevadahealthlink.com.


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