By Kevin Walsh, senior vice president and managing director, Eligibility and Insurance Exchange Services, Government Healthcare Solutions, Xerox

“If you build it, they will come.” That line from the movie “Field of Dreams” has been uttered in many contexts over the years. Will it ring true for the health insurance exchanges (HIX) set to roll out in every state in time for open enrollment on Oct. 1?

A recent survey* of more than 2,000 U.S. adults conducted online by Harris Interactive on behalf of Xerox found that almost two-thirds of Americans (63 percent) are not at all familiar with HIXs. That’s up from 46 percent who answered the question the same way in 2012. If I had to guess, I’d say the 2012 Affordable Care Act Supreme Court Case generated media coverage and awareness about the HIXs. Without that same buzz now, more Americans have lost sight of the HIXs that will go live in just two short weeks.

So how can Americans come to HIXs if they don’t know about them? States with state-based exchanges are responsible for getting the word out and driving uninsured citizens to participate. Nevada is executing a cross-media campaign on TV, radio, billboard, newspapers and social media. Kentucky gave away reusable shopping bags with information about the exchange at the state fair.

When Americans were asked in the survey how they’d like to receive information about the exchange, traditional mail (57 percent) and email (45 percent) were top choices. TV, print and internet advertising combined accounted for 24 percent of Americans’ preferences. States may need to consider adding traditional direct mail pieces to their campaigns to get awareness, and, ultimately, participation in exchanges.

In addition to pushing out communications, states must also consider that consumers will have questions about their health insurance options and navigating the exchanges. Designated contact centers ranked in the top three answers (36 percent) when Americans were asked where they would turn if they needed information. States that don’t yet have a contact center in place, or are unsure if their contact center capacity is sufficient to handle a significant influx of volume, need to quickly evaluate their options – including identifying a partner with proven experience.

 

*This survey was conducted online within the United States by Harris Interactive on behalf of Xerox from August 27-29, 2013 among 2,061 adults ages 18 and older. This online survey is not based on a probability sample and therefore no estimate of theoretical sampling can be calculated. For complete survey methodology, including weighting variables, please contact Jennifer Wasmer at Jennifer.Wasmer@Xerox.com