State launches ad campaign to educate people about Obamacare (with video)

Sign up begins Oct. 1

THE BELLINGHAM HERALDSeptember 28, 2013 


This screen grab is from a YouTube video shot at Mount Baker as part of a statewide advertising campaign aimed to help Washington residents compare and enroll in new health insurance plans.


A statewide advertising campaign and on-the-ground outreach in communities are part of the effort to tell Washington residents they can compare and enroll in new health plans - and get financial help paying for them - as a key piece of the federal health law kicks in Oct. l.

Launched Sept. 17, the humorous ads rolling out across the state warn people about gambling with "Chance," depicted in TV spots as a mischievous, young girl who could wreak havoc on those without health insurance. (People might recognize the scenery in the snowboarding spot, which was shot at Mount Baker.)

The state received $18 million from the federal government to pay for a two-year campaign that includes TV and radio spots, billboards, print and digital ads. They send consumers to the state's new insurance marketplace, called an exchange, at or toll-free at 1-855-923-4633.


Most people will be required to have health insurance in 2014 or face a fine under Obamacare.

Uninsured consumers have from Oct. 1 to March 31 to sign up for coverage through Washington Healthplanfinder.

The ad campaign's goal is to cut through the noise and connect with people who have given up on believing they can afford health insurance, or believe they don't need coverage because they're young, a spokesman for the Washington Health Benefit Exchange said.

"They think they're invincible, that health insurance is for someone else," said Michael Marchand, director of communications for the Washington Health Benefit Exchange.

The state worked with GMMB, a firm with offices in Seattle and Washington, D.C., to create the ads.

The radio ads are in English and Spanish, and print ads are being translated into Chinese, Korean, Russian, Spanish and Vietnamese.

That should cover the majority of languages used in Washington state and also for print ads in the ethnic media that have a presence in

Washington state, including the Korean Daily, the Viet Times, and Russian World.

Other outreach efforts will be handled by groups like the Whatcom Alliance for Health Advancement, one of 10 lead organizations chosen statewide to help consumers enroll in a health plan.

WAHA is serving residents in Whatcom, Skagit, San Juan, Island and Snohomish counties. The five-county region has about 117,800 uninsured people who are eligible for expanded Medicaid or subsidized health care insurance under Obamacare.

The Bellingham-based organization is building and overseeing a network to provide impartial information to consumers in person, online and on the phone - including training more than 200 people in the egion who come from at least 22 partner agencies. Those include the Korean Community Service Center, Refugee & Immigrant Services Northwest, PeaceHealth, Interfaith and Sea Mar community health centers, and Mt. Baker Planned Parenthood.

That network is part of the effort throughout the state to "reach people where they live, play, work and pray," Marchand said, including the two likely to be the hardest to reach, the "young invincibles" and those with limited English proficiency.

To do that, WAHA will depend on their partners, groups that people already know and that already work with certain demographics.

"Our first go-to is using organizations that are already trusted by people in the community. We really looked at creating a network that would do that," said Dorothy Bradshaw of the nonprofit Whatcom Alliance for Health Advancement.

Efforts include reaching out to libraries, which could help with computer access, and faith communities. There also are plans to have a community outreach/enrollment event in each county.

Once enrollment begins, WAHA will get a better sense of who it needs to reach, according to Bradshaw, manager of the In-Person Assister Program with WAHA.

"We're going to see who's enrolling first, start finding who's not enrolling and then devise strategies to reach those groups of people," Bradshaw said.


To see more videos, go to this YouTube channel.

Reach Kie Relyea at 360-715-2234 or

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