Consultant: public trust is key to success of health exchange

A communications consultant told a state panel today that building public trust will be key to the success of a new health insurance exchange.

The exchange is a central part of the federal health care law. One out of every five Minnesotans is projected to use the online marketplace to research and buy health insurance beginning in 2014. Prior market research found a low level of trust of health plans among the uninsured people the exchange is supposed to help.

Todd Rapp of Minneapolis-based Himle Rapp told a state exchange task force that advertisements, messages and other information about the exchange must foster trust, engage the public and appear straightforward.

"You're not going to successfully bring a million people onto this program in a month, you know that," Rapp said. "What you want people to do is believe in the program, to believe that they have a voice in the program, and to understand and get the answers that they need."

The Minnesota exchange is supposed to be ready to begin enrollment in Oct. 2013.

Rapp said that the state needs to reach Minnesotans in the various ways they like to receive information.

"For some, that's social media. For some it's newspapers. For some it's radio," Rapp said. "For most of us, it's all those things plus interpersonal contact and a lot of other ways. Communications is more complicated than it ever has been."

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