CONCORD, New Hampshire — A Concord-based public relations company has been hired to handle advertising and marketing of the federal health care overhaul law in New Hampshire.
The New Hampshire Health Plan announced the $1.9 million contract with Louis Karno and Co. on Wednesday, more than a month after enrollment began in the new online insurance markets created by the law. Compared with many other states, New Hampshire got off to a late start with marketing and consumer outreach because Republicans initially blocked the state Insurance Department from accepting federal money, prompting the New Hampshire Health Plan to apply for the money instead.
Mike Degnan, the health plan's director, said the first priority will be developing a New Hampshire-specific website to educate consumers. That's expected to go online by the end of the month.
"We selected a partner who has the best capabilities to give us what we need for our outreach and education program," he said. "They have a real comprehensive team, a very strong project manager and a real breadth of knowledge and background on the Affordable Care Act."
Louis Karno President Jayme Simoes said the campaign will include many channels to reach the estimated 150,000 people who lack health insurance.
"We will communicate with people where they live and work — through TV, radio, online outreach, some canvassing, promoting local events and supporting the good work being done on the ground by in-person application assisters," he said. "We have a lot of confidence about the multiple ways people can sign up and we are anxious to help and excited to get started."
The health plan, which previously ran the state's high-risk insurance pool, is using the rest of the $5 million federal grant to pay for marketplace assisters at six community organizations. Separately, Planned Parenthood and Bi-State Primary Care, which represents community health centers, were awarded federal funding to serve as navigators, a role designed to help consumers explore their options. Other organizations have volunteers serving as certified application counselors.
New Hampshire opted against setting up its own marketplace, but the state is partnering with the federal government to manage the health plans and provide consumer assistance. Problems with the federal website have kept many people from enrolling in insurance, however.