Ads to promote Missouri healthcare exchange

Missouri residents may soon see television advertisements urging them to sign up for healthcare insurance through a federally-operated exchange.

Missouri is one of 13 Republican-dominated states (and the only one with a Democratic governor), where the Center for Medicare Services at the Dept. of Health and Human Services has reserved airtime starting Sept. 30. The total value of airtime reserved in these states? At least $12 million, according to Politico.

Missouri is one of 27 states where the federal government will be operating a health insurance marketplace for consumers to purchase insurance. Indeed, 61 percent of Missouri voters passed a ballot measure in 2012 banning the state from creating a health insurance exchange.

Because of this, any state involvement in the exchange has been indirect. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported that a St. Louis-based nonprofit pays the salary of an “invisible coordinator” who works with the social services director and is known as the state’s Affordable Care Act coordinator.

A New York Times reporter described the difficulty of finding any information about the state’s exchange this way in a story about the obstacles faced by Missourians seeking health insurance:

Looking for the new health insurance marketplace, set to open in this state in two months, is like searching for a unicorn.

The advertising effort to inform and encourage individuals to sign up through the exchanges has already drawn criticism, even before the ad blitz begins. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., sent a letter urging the Dept. of Health and Human Services to withdraw the ad buys.

More information about the rates and plans offered on the Missouri healthcare exchange will have to be released by the federal government.

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