Paul Bunyan and Babe are taking a welcome break from their tougher-than-expected gig marketing the state’s new MNsure online health insurance marketplace.
New radio ads now airing have shifted from lighthearted spots featuring the accident-prone lumberjack to ones with a straightforward voice-over outlining the advantages of using MNsure, such as the ability to comparison-shop for coverage and the possibility of qualifying for federal tax credits to help pay for monthly premiums. (It’s also worth noting that MNsure clients may also learn if they qualify for even-more-affordable medical assistance programs, including MinnesotaCare, the state’s popular health plan aimed at working families.)
The shift to more informational ads comes as a major deadline looms. March 31 is the last day for buying 2014 coverage in time to avoid the Affordable Care Act penalty for not being insured. Between now and then, it’s expected that many people who put off buying coverage will turn to MNsure or give it another chance if the website’s now-under-repair flaws previously prevented them from doing so.
What’s particularly valuable about the new marketing approach is that it goes beyond raising awareness of MNsure. Now ads give people specific reasons to use it. The more grown-up tone is appropriate, too.
Both changes will help overcome some of the unfortunate but all-too-real confusion still out there about who should use the new website. Too often, Minnesotans believe that the site is only for those on medical assistance (not true). Many people are also unaware that they could get assistance to pay for private health insurance. That assistance is available in Minnesota only to those who buy through MNsure.
A MNsure spokeswoman said this week that the new ads were part of the original marketing campaign, which called for different pitches at different times for Minnesota consumers.
The shift is smart and a timely change of pace. While Bunyan and Babe shouldn’t go on permanent vacation, future marketing efforts would do well to continue the informational emphasis.