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Nevada begins marketing Obamacare health insurance exchange

CARSON CITY — Hard work. Healthy children. Pride of providing. But — what if?

Fear. Trepidation. Worry.

That’s the message Nevadans will be flooded with — on TV, radio, billboards, newspapers and social media — as the marketing campaign for the state’s health insurance exchange kicks into high gear and President Barack Obama’s health care law nears implementation.

Nevada has received $8.2 million in federal funds — $3.06 for every resident — for outreach and public awareness efforts aimed at getting people who don’t have health insurance to sign up, according to U.S. Department of Health and Human Services data.

The Silver State Health Insurance Exchange, a state agency created to oversee the signups, is doing final testing to ensure an online Web portal, Nevada Health Link, will be ready when the enrollment period begins Oct. 1.

About 592,600 Nevadans — 22 percent of the population — lack health insurance coverage.

Telling the uninsured what is available is a massive undertaking. Last year the state awarded a $6 million contract to KPS3, a Reno advertising and marketing firm, to get the word out. Another $2.2 million is targeted for local outreach through community organizations.

After months of conducting focus groups and research, the first phase of advertising began July 15 with radio and print ads and some digital messaging through mobile ads and social media.

“We work hard for our family. But we don’t have health insurance, and that makes us nervous,” says one print ad showing a family of four. It then gives information about Nevada Health Link and numbers to call for more information.

“These are real people’s words,” said Stephanie Kruse, principal and chief strategist at KPS3, who coordinated the publicity efforts. “Our campaign is straightforward; it takes a serious tone.”

Variations on the theme will target different population sectors: Young “invincibles” — healthy, rugged young adults with nary a care in the world or ailments to slow them down. Young families with children. People with no insurance through an employer who cannot afford it alone. And older residents or those with pre-existing conditions who could not afford insurance because of high premiums.

“When it comes to soccer I play hard or I don’t play at all. I’ll be OK,” says a young man in one radio spot. “The way I see it, if I’m not pushing the limits, why even get out there and play. Look at me. I’m fine.

“If you think that’s crazy, get this,” the voice continues. “I don’t have health insurance. Neither does my mom. And that scares me.”

“We had to really take a look at some of our target populations and consider how they prefer to receive information,” Kruse said. “For some of our populations, they best receive information through someone they know and trust.”

Outreach through churches, civic groups, tribal councils and social service providers will help spread the message. In some areas, volunteers will go door-to-door.

Eight organizations will help educate consumers and get them through the process. They include Inter-tribal Council of Nevada; Know Your Care; The Children’s Cabinet; Great Basin Primary Care; Consumer Assistance and Resource Enterprise; East Valley Family Services; Latin Chamber of Commerce Community Foundation; and Richard Allen Community Outreach.

“Health insurance consumers will receive one-on-one, in-person assistance,” said Jon Hager, executive director of Nevada’s exchange.

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