ACA marketing: Spending amounts differ by state, funding models

Although the bulk of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) is being implemented starting early next year, the amount of money states will use to trumpet its arrival is far from equal.

Some states are receiving--and spending--tens of millions of dollars to advertise health insurance exchanges and other options its residents have under the ACA. Others are spending far less.

Policy experts believe the amount being spent will have a direct effect in terms of how many people purchase insurance and therefore will not burden hospitals with unpaid bills.

South Carolina will spend $3.6 million to market the ACA to its more than 900,0000 residents who lack health insurance-- about $4 for each person with coverage. It passed on funding from the federal government, primarily because it opted out of running its own exchange.

"When we chose to have the federal government operate the exchange, that put the responsibility for marketing and supporting it on the federal government," John Supra, deputy director of South Carolina's Medicaid program told The State newspaper.

Yet Arkansas, which decided to operate its own exchange, will receive and spend up to $24 million in ACA marketing-- more than six times what South Carolina or Alabama will spend, reported the Montgomery Advertiser. And Colorado will spend about $21 million, according to the Denver Post. It is also operating an exchange.

"We are introducing a new service, a new way for people to get health insurance. And when you are introducing a new service, it requires an aggressive education campaign," Myung Oak Kim, spokesperson for Connect For Health Colorado, told the Denver Post.

New Mexico, another state operating its own exchange will receive a slightly smaller amount--$19 million, according to the Santa Fe New Mexican. However, that works out to roughly $6 per uninsured resident. Nevada will receive $8.2 million in federal funding, according to the Las Vegas Review-Journal.

Although North Dakota will receive just $600,000 from the federal government and is expected to spend about $1 million in total, that translates to more than $10 for every uninsured resident, reported the Bismarck Tribune.

To learn more:
- read The State article
- check out the Montgomery Advertiser article
- here's the Denver Post article
- read the Santa Fe New Mexican article
- here's the Las Vegas Review-Journal article
- read the Bismarck Tribune article