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October 2012 St@teside

State Health Benefit Exchanges Develop Branding and Communication Plans

At least five state Health Benefit Exchanges (HBE) have selected a name and brand: Covered California; Maryland Health Connection; Cover Oregon; Vermont Health Connect; and Washington Healthplanfinder. They join the Massachusetts Health Connector and Avenue H (Utah’s small business health insurance marketplace) as other states with official brands. 
States that are in the process of developing their brand can learn much from the research undertaken in the states that have already selected a name. According to GMMB, a communications firm that works with many states’ HBEs, the following are the attributes that often rise to the top:
  • Trustworthy;
  • User-Friendly;
  • Transparent;
  • Choice;
  • Comparisons;
  • Affordable;
  • Innovative; and
  • Simple.
Consumers and employers who have been interviewed have indicated that they want a convenient place to shop where they can compare plans and find the most affordable option. They like to be able to compare choices on a website, but they also want someone trustworthy to call who will help them. The brand should avoid being too professional (i.e., cold) or too approachable (i.e., low quality).
In launching Washington’s new exchange brand Michael Marchand, director of communications for Washington Healthplanfinder, said, “Residents repeatedly expressed a desire for a simple, memorable name - one which creates a feeling of trust and confidence in a new marketplace that will help them find the right health plan." Washington is using the tagline, “Click. Compare. Covered.”
Cover Oregon has focused their brand on the stories and pictures of Oregonians who need health coverage. Their website includes the tag, “Cover Oregon is writing a new story in Oregon health. What’s your story?”
Vermont Health Connect is using the tag, “Find the plan that’s right for you.”