Thursday, December 5, 2013
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"We're probably not going to be the most popular people, but it's the right thing to do. The lobstermen are the gatekeepers of the coastal community. By reaching them, we can spread the word through many towns," McCarron said.
Roughly a quarter of lobstermen in the southern part of the state and more than half of them in the northern part of the state lack insurance, the Maine Lobstermen's Association said, citing a study from the Gulf of Maine Research Institute. That exceeds the state average of about 14 percent of adults ages 19 to 64 who lack health insurance, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Nationally, about 50 million people, or about 15 percent of the population, lack insurance.
While the fishing partnership said some outreach efforts will begin Oct. 1, the bulk of the communication with the lobstermen will occur after the holidays, in the off-season lull when fishermen have more time to meet and talk about insurance.
While states operating their own marketplaces have developed multipronged public education campaigns to help people understand their options and obligations, Maine and 33 other states have opted to have the federal government run their marketplaces and don't have the same level of resources to pay for a broad, coordinated approach for a public education and marketing campaign.
As a result, the Maine Health Access Foundation hired Burgess Advertising & Marketing of Portland to develop a campaign that includes television and radio ads and uses social media, such as Facebook and Twitter, and even grassroots efforts across the state. The firm is putting together the campaign now with a goal for it to go live Oct. 1.
The ads must target a wide range of Mainers, from the uninsured to the underinsured to the "invincibles" -- the 20-something adults who think they don't need health insurance -- to the 50-year-olds who don't yet qualify for Medicare, said Meredith Burgess Strang, president and chief executive of Burgess Advertising.
The ads will direct Mainers to a new website -- http://www.enroll207.com -- at the end of September that provides state-specific information about health plan options and offers a ZIP code locator that will help people find navigators and "certified assisters" in their communities. The site also will provide a link to http://www.Healthcare.gov, the federal Health Insurance Marketplace website, to purchase coverage.
Although navigators will try to reach out and find people themselves, Mainers can also call 2-1-1 to find their closest navigator.
"The advantage of navigators is that we can meet face to face in the community. Our strength is you'll meet someone in their town and you know and understand their life and needs," Grindle said. "We want to be nimble. Because we're based in the local communities, we're going to be where the people are. We're trying to focus on people."
Jessica Hall can be contacted at 791-6316 or at: