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Survey Finds Many State Residents Still In Dark About Health Insurance Exchage

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File photo of a doctor wearing a stethoscope. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

File photo of a doctor wearing a stethoscope. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

By SUSAN HAIGH,  Associated Press

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) _ Organizers of Connecticut’s new health insurance exchange are learning most residents don’t know much about the effort to set up an insurance marketplace, a hallmark of the federal health care overhaul legislation.

According to new survey results provided Friday to The Associated Press, about 70 percent of residents were unaware of the exchange, known as Access Health CT. The survey was conducted before a new marketing campaign was launched in mid-June, which includes TV, radio, newspaper and online advertising. On-the-ground marketing and community outreach, such as manned booths at rock concerts and festivals, is also under way.

“We need to make sure that we raise awareness about who we are,” said Jason Madrak, the exchange’s chief marketing officer.

The survey of 851 adults was conducted between June 7-16 to get a baseline for the amount of awareness and interest in the exchange and the new health care law. It follows months of research by the exchange’s staff, including focus groups, so-called “Healthy Chats” across the state, and a research study of 600 people, to determine how best to reach out to residents and get them interested in the new health insurance marketplace. Open enrollment begins Oct. 1.

“It’s not a topic like movies or music where people talk for days about it,” said Madrak, adding officials at the exchange realize they must get people engaged in what can be a complicated topic.

Follow-up surveys are planned for around Oct. 1 and in April 2014.

This first poll, conducted by PerryUndem Research and Communication, found most residents, 86 percent, had not heard of Access Health CT. Once it was described, 31 percent said they believed they had heard of it, but 68 percent said they had not. Sixty percent of residents said they knew little or nothing about the Affordable Care Act, but a majority still felt the new law would either help them or have no effect. Twenty-one percent said they felt the law would hurt them.

Ten percent of the poll’s participants reported they are currently uninsured. There are estimates that about 377,000 of Connecticut’s 3.5 million residents are uninsured, or nearly 11 percent.

The survey had a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 3.36 percent. Calls were made to both landline and cellphones, and interviews were conducted in English and Spanish.

Connecticut is one of 17 states plus the District of Columbia that have been approved to operate state-based insurance marketplaces. Other states will partner with the federal government to run exchanges or let the federal government run theirs. Connecticut’s exchange is expected to serve about 100,000 people.

Currently, the exchange is running three TV commercials. Madrak said one is geared toward providing a general awareness about the program. A second highlights that the Affordable Care Act is coming to Connecticut and the third focuses on benefits for small businesses. The exchange also plans to soon run a commercial that’s been translated into Spanish.

Radio ads in both Spanish and English are already being aired. There have also been informational insertions placed in major English and Spanish newspapers as well as smaller, community newspapers.

Madrak said some billboard ads are running in Hartford and New Haven. Additionally, there are currently online and mobile ads.

(© Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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