The Pulse
12:00 am
Mon September 17, 2012

Health benefits exchanges in the spotlight…literally

States that have chosen to make their own online marketplaces for health insurance are moving ahead, some more quickly than others. And there’s no time to lose: these exchanges have to come online in 2014, under the Affordable Care Act timeline. (Here’s an update on where states are with their exchanges.)

Rhode Island’s Health Benefits Exchange Board, according to its next meeting agenda, looks set to discuss a roll out strategy as well as to pick a technology vendor.

But in California, they’re already talking promotion. From a recent NY Times article, here’s one way they’d like to make the most of the state’s natural resources:

And Hollywood, an industry whose major players have been supportive of President Obama and his agenda, will be tapped. Plans are being discussed to pitch a reality television show about “the trials and tribulations of families living without medical coverage,” according to the Ogilvy plan. The exchange will also seek to have prime-time television shows, like “Modern Family,” “Grey’s Anatomy” and Univision telenovelas, weave the health care law into their plots.

“I’d like to see 10 of the major TV shows, or telenovelas, have people talking about ‘that health insurance thing,’ ” said Peter V. Lee, the exchange’s executive director. “There are good story lines here.”

What’s the story line in Rhode Island? Well, we know some of the basic elements: it’s tough out there for people with no health insurance, and getting tougher for people who have it, financially speaking. There are nearly twice as many uninsured Rhode Islanders today than there were in 1999. Health insurance premiums have gone up nationwide. And rates for 2013 should be announced in Rhode Island this week. The plot could only thicken after the election…

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