Touted as one of the best state health insurance exchanges, Covered California is launching a major enrollment drive:

With less than a month left for enrollment in Obamacare, California’s insurance exchange is applying a major dose of peer pressure.

In a new TV ad blitz, recent enrollees extol the benefits of having coverage for checkups or a serious illness. A man plays soccer with his sons, a musician carries his guitar down the street. “I’m in,” young, fit-looking people say. “Are you in?” the announcer asks.

This new marketing marks a more direct appeal to millions of uninsured Californians before open enrollment ends March 31. After March 31, people can’t enroll in most health plans again until late fall.

Some Legal Insurrection fans may remember one Covered California’s past efforts, featuring oddball exercise guru Richard Simmons:

I will note, at one point the phrase “Accidents Happen” is displayed prominently in the background.

True, that.

This gem was part of a $1.37 million campaign. It also caught the attention of California Senator Ted Gaines (R-El Dorado Hills).  Gaines singled out the ad for criticism in a letter he wrote to the director of Covered California.

Also concerned with the health insurance policy cancellations associated with Obamacare implementation, which is part of the reason for the new enrollment drive, Gaines is now suing the state Exchange.

Senator Ted Gaines today announced a lawsuit against Covered California and Executive Director Peter Lee, seeking to stop any future health insurance policy cancellations by the health care Exchange. In addition, the suit seeks to hold Covered California accountable for hundreds of millions in expenditures that have failed to increase the number of insured Californians.

“More than 900,000 Californians have had their health insurance plans cancelled by Obamacare and Covered California. Close to 10 million more could lose their coverage soon. This lawsuit stands with consumers and puts a stop to this unchecked government abuse,” said Gaines.

…Facing a $78 million budget deficit in 2015/16, Covered California has also spent millions of dollars in a failed attempt to attract more enrollees, including the widely mocked Richard Simmons infomercial. Senator Gaines has requested detailed financial reports and enrollment information from the Exchange, and was met with an unsatisfactory response. This petition continues the Senator’s efforts to protect California taxpayers.

Interestingly, it turns out that Gaines, who has a family-owned insurance agency, is a candidate for California’s insurance commissioner on the 2014 ballot.

While I suspect trying to elect a Republican as governor is a lost cause this year, getting behind this one as the state’s insurance honcho might be worthy of putting on our state’s “Tea Party To Do” list for 2014. It would be good to see an official in office who actually pays serious attention to expenditures and understands the complexities of the health insurance industry.


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