PeachCare for Kids:Marketing Children’s Health Insurance to Working Families
Georgia Department of Medical Assistance: PeachCare for Kids
PeachCare for Kids, created by the Georgia legislature in spring 1998, is the Georgia edition of the federal Children’s Health Insurance Program, designed to provide children’s health insurance for working-class families. Under the new PeachCare for Kids program, children can receive comprehensive medical care – including check-ups, accident coverage, prescriptions, and eye and dental care – for only $7.50 per child per month, with a maximum of $15 per family. There are no co-payments or deductibles, and children under 6 are covered free. For over 300,000 Georgia children living without health care, this program is a wonderful opportunity. Prospect Associates has been involved with PeachCare since its inception, as the agency responsible for designing and implementing all marketing and communications for the program.
Marketing PeachCare for Kids has a number of pragmatic as well as psychological challenges. First, from a pragmatic standpoint, these parents are living incredibly busy lives. We need to make it as simple and straightforward as possible for them to learn about PeachCare and to enroll in the program. We must speak to them on the TV and radio stations they listen to, and reach out and find them in the communities where they live.
Second, from a psychological standpoint, we must recognize the strength and dedication of these parents. PeachCare for Kids is a program for the classic working-class Georgia family: 90% of these parents work. Over 60% live in two-parent households. The majority of them are not receiving any other form of state assistance. They are independent and self-supporting, and likely do not perceive themselves as poor or needy. They are simply hard-working parents whose employers do not provide private insurance, and who therefore have never had any way to get insurance for their children. To speak effectively to these parents, PeachCare for Kids needed to recognize – and appreciate – their strength, independence and dedication to their families.
To reach these parents in a variety of ways, we developed a multi-disciplinary communications program that includes a range of components: from statewide advertising to grassroots community outreach. All efforts will be synchronized with four flights throughout the year, to give PeachCare four annual "booster shots" of media, PR and community-oriented events. The following section details tactics being pursued in each area.
The PeachCare for Kids media campaign includes television, radio, outdoor and transit advertising. Using the non-profit status of PeachCare for Kids, we were able to create a program that combined paid and public service advertising. We negotiated extremely reduced rates for outdoor advertising, 50% bonus coverage for transit advertising, and bonus on-air public relations, community event and public service support from radio and television broadcast media. To ensure coverage throughout the year, we arranged our advertising program in four flights: 4-6 weeks each in winter, spring, summer and fall.
The advertising campaign follows the theme, "Now You Can Afford Peace of Mind," addressing the practical and the emotional needs of potential PeachCare families. Creatively, advertising is intended to evoke the heroism of the working-class parent, recognizing their love and dedication to their child. The radio commercial, "Vicky," tells the story of a father and his daughter, and the TV commercial, "Emma," spotlights a mother and her son.
To maximize efficiency, public relations events are synchronized with advertising. Tactics include creating new stories and press events, as well as a series of public relations products including audio news releases, newspaper matte stories, etc.
During the first month, we orchestrated two major events to stimulate media coverage and generate awareness: the December 1 launch, which was hosted by Grady Hughes Spalding children’s hospital in Atlanta, and the December 16 Statewide Sign-Up Day, which was co-sponsored by nearly 100 hospitals throughout the state.
Community outreach is an absolutely essential part of the PeachCare for Kids communications program. Local organizations – from schools and hospitals to churches and community centers – have personal relationships with these families that cannot be matched. Our community relations program is a broad based effort that has encompassed a range of possible partner organizations, from the Georgia school board to the Georgia Hospital Association to the United Way, and dozens more. Since we began doing community outreach, just prior to the September 1 pilot launch, we have conducted in-person trainings with over 500 local and state organizations.
To start the community outreach process, we conducted a series of statewide trainings. These trainings included members from the local health care provider and hospital communities, as well as other local community-based organizations, and served as the building blocks for statewide education about PeachCare for Kids. We continue to build on these partnerships through a quarterly PeachCare for Kids Update Newsletter, that provides ongoing information about the status of the program, upcoming events, and ideas for partner participation.
Many partners have expressed an interest in having a PeachCare for Kids representative speak about the program to their constituencies. The Right-From-The-Start Medicaid workforce, with over 120 representatives statewide, specializes in doing non-traditional outreach. Prospect trained each of these workers on doing PeachCare for Kids outreach and since the launch, the workers have been speaking to families and giving presentations all across the state -- from the statewide meeting of the Georgia PTA to the Thanksgiving Day parade in Macon, Georgia.
Prior to the launch of the marketing and communications campaign, the toll-free number was receiving an average of 50 phone calls per day. The day the marketing program launched, phone volume jumped to 1,000 per day and has continued to climb, today averaging 1,300 calls per day. On December 16, the Statewide Sign-Up Day, phone volume more than tripled.
In six months of statewide eligibility, the Georgia Department of Medical Assistance has received over 80,000 applications for PeachCare for Kids. Of those applications, over 36,000 are now enrolled in PeachCare, more than half of the program’s two-year goal. An additional 13,000 more children have been referred to Medicaid. In total, more than 57,000 children now have access to health care for the first time – and applications are continuing to pour in at the rate of 500-1,000 per day.
While other states have received criticism for failing to enroll children in CHIP programs, PeachCare for Kids’ marketing program has been identified as a role model by other states and the Children’s Defense Fund in Washington, DC. In December 1998, Prospect was awarded the Gold Mercury Award, an international award for outstanding achievements in public relations and corporate communications, for PeachCare for Kids.
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