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Reports: Colorado’s Pricey Obamacare ‘Messaging’ Missed The Mark

Uninsured Coloradans are avoiding the state-run Obamacare health exchange for one overriding reason — it’s too expensive.

That’s the conclusion of a pair of reports commissioned by the Colorado Health Foundation to find out why more of the state’s uninsured low-income residents haven’t signed up for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act.

Fifty-two percent, the vast majority, said cost was the biggest factor. The Global Strategy Group, which conducted the survey, said many people didn’t understand the subsidies available and got confused about tax credits. Many were also put off by the complicated need to first apply for Medicaid.

Twelve percent of those surveyed, the next largest group, said they didn’t sign up in protest of Obamacare’s mandated coverage.

Others said they considered themselves healthy and don’t need insurance, or they complained that the process of enrolling was too complicated. Only 4 percent said they wanted to sign up but missed the enrollment deadline.

Another study conducted by the RAND Corp. had similar findings, including that “Messaging about insurance was not compelling and did not discuss the health benefits of insurance.”

This is significant because Connect for Health Colorado, the state-run health exchange, spent $21 million on outreach and marketing prior to the ACA rollout last year. Those funds were supplemented with an additional $4.2 million when it became clear the exchange wasn’t going to hit its enrollment targets.

Some of those expenses have come under fire, including $46,000 for branded lip balm and sunscreen. Connect for Health Colorado also spent $9,000 to rent an RV plastered with advertising to tour around the state.

And of course there were the now-infamous “brosurance” ads (paid for by the Colorado Consumer Health Initiative), one of which showed some frat guys doing keg stands. Another — this one dubbed “hosurance” — featured a woman gushing about how easy it is to get birth control under Obamacare and hoping a hot guy is just as easy.

The RAND report found that the messages were “not tailored or actionable.”

“There is significant confusion and little understanding about Medicaid and private insurance subsidies through Connect for Health Colorado,” the report noted.

Other findings included that many people found the enrollment website confusing, people don’t trust the system, and insurance is too expensive for many. Finally, there was mistrust of the healthcare system’s namesake.

“[Some] felt that by enrolling, they were going to be supporting a president that they didn’t want to support,” said Laurie Martin, one of the authors of the RAND report, in an article on Health News Colorado.

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