ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — Minnesota’s health insurance exchange has started airing TV ads with testimonials from people who saved money buying coverage on MNsure.
A 30-second TV ad started airing statewide on Tuesday, with two more scheduled for the next few days along with several 60-second radio spots. It’s a more direct advertising approach for MNsure, after a series of humorous ads late last year that featured Minnesota folk icons Paul Bunyan and Babe the Blue Ox.
The ads are meant to encourage more Minnesota residents to buy coverage ahead of March 31, when MNsure’s open enrollment ends. After that, people without health insurance face tax penalties under the new federal health care law.
MNsure is spending $266,000 on the new TV ads, for a total of $933,000 spent on TV advertising between the Paul and Babe ads and the new ones. Lower-than-expected enrollment has raised budget concerns for the agency in 2015 and 2016, and interim CEO Scott Leitz previously said advertising budgets might have to be sacrificed. But MNsure spokesman John Schadl said the agency has been charged with carrying out the federal law and advertising is an effective way to do it.
TV advertising “is the most cost-effective way to reach a lot of people with your message,” Schadl said. “There are consequences if they don’t sign up by the end of March, and more importantly, we need to communicate to people there are options for better and more affordable health insurance.”
The three TV ads feature three separate Minnesota residents who bought new insurance on MNsure: a woman with a pre-existing medical condition who expects her family will save $10,000 next year; a man whose monthly premium costs dropped from $560 to $49 a month; and a married couple of small business owners who say their employees’ rates are a fraction of what they were before.
“My new plan saves us $700 a month and it covers everything I need,” Mary DesCombaz says in the first of the new TV ads. The Minneapolis resident learned in February 2011 that she had a brain tumor, which has since recurred.
Leitz said the stories featured are “not unique,” pointing to the nearly 95,000 people who have enrolled in coverage so far on MNsure.
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