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Nov/Dec 2007

New SCI Publication on Marketing State Insurance Coverage Programs A new issue brief, Marketing State Insurance Coverage Prog

A new issue brief, Marketing State Insurance Coverage Programs: Experiences from Four States, examines marketing and enrollment strategies in several states that have implemented coverage initiatives.

In many states, both legislators and executive branch officials are facing increased pressure from constituents to address the lack of affordable health insurance and the growing number of uninsured. In response, states are implementing a variety of state coverage initiatives, including Medicaid expansions, tax credits, and employer and employee subsidies that support the purchase of employer-sponsored insurance (ESI). States that establish health insurance coverage initiatives, however, are finding it difficult to reach enrollment targets. A diverse eligible population, misconceptions about eligibility criteria, and a resource-intensive education and enrollment process are just some of the challenges states must overcome.

The brief makes it clear that marketing state coverage expansion programs is a challenging undertaking. Furthermore, the success of certain marketing strategies depends largely on the structure of each state’s individual coverage program, including whether there is a role for brokers and agents in marketing the product, whether the target population includes only uninsured individuals, and whether the initiative is built on ESI. Despite these variations, the following conclusions were evident and may provide useful information to help states more effectively market their programs.

According to the brief, “Best practices” and lessons learned include: (1) marketing and public awareness requires a multi-faceted approach; (2) the application and enrollment process requires support and multiple entry points; (3) plan design encourages, but does not assure, enrollment; and (4) agents and brokers should be involved in the program.

The brief was written by Ann Volpel and Asher Mikow of the University of Maryland, Baltimore County’s Center for Health Program Development and Management (Center) and Todd Eberly, formerly of the Center. It builds on a more in-depth assessment of insurance coverage programs that the Center completed in March 2007 for the federal Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) and AcademyHealth. That publication, Efforts to Expand Coverage to the Uninsured: Program Design Challenges and Tradeoffs in Six States, compared program design, financing, affordability, and program administration for six state coverage initiatives.