Harvard Case Study to Highlight How Pappas MacDonnell Used Integrated Marketing to Help Launch Connecticut’s Health Insurance Exchange

Case featuring success of Access Health CT will be taught as part of curriculum at Harvard Business School and Harvard School of Public Health

SOUTHPORT, CONN., July 9, 2014 – The launch of Access Health CT, Connecticut’s official health insurance marketplace (also known as the Exchange), is the subject of an upcoming marketing case study authored by Harvard Business School professor John A. Quelch for use at both Harvard Business School (HBS) and Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH). The case outlines how the Exchange and Southport, Conn.-based Pappas MacDonnell, Inc., Access Health CT’s marketing services firm of record, took the Exchange from a start-up to one of the most successful health insurance exchanges in the country within 18 months. The Exchange gained more than 230,000 enrollees in its first year – more than double its goal of 100,000.

Titled Access Health CT: Marketing Affordable Healthcare, the Harvard case study offers insights into how Connecticut, one of 16 state-run exchanges (including D.C.), became a model for how to introduce an entirely new concept under a tight deadline and significant political pressure. The case highlights the effectiveness of a comprehensive integrated marketing effort, from consumer awareness to education and engagement to enrollment, all within an aggressive 10-month timeframe under the watchful eye of State and federal policymakers.

The Exchange and Pappas MacDonnell engaged a broad spectrum of marketing tools and tactics, including opening retail storefronts and hiring its own field force of outreach workers – both unique among the nation’s exchanges. Other initiatives included tracking leads through a proprietary database, nurturing them through periodic touches before the Open Enrollment period, and then providing them to participating certified brokers at the retail outlets and sponsored Enrollment Fairs. A series of interactive engagement tools on the Exchange’s educational website also gave consumers the help they needed to prepare themselves for enrollment.

Susan Pappas, Principal of Pappas MacDonnell, credits much of the Exchange’s success to a thoroughly integrated approach to marketing. “We believed it would take anywhere from five to 12 ‘touches’ to move a prospect from unawareness or confusion to enrollment, and that 80% of all prospects would require some human interaction,” said Pappas. “So we needed to make sure our multifaceted advertising and promotion was paid off with ‘feet on the street’ who could connect with people one-to-one. It was just one example of how a synchronized approach paid off.”

Professor Quelch will feature the case in The Consumer, the Corporation and Public Health, a course he will be teaching next spring at both HBS and HSPH on the role and responsibilities of corporations in solving public health problems, both in the United States and worldwide. The case will be available for purchase through Harvard Business School Publishing in the coming months.

Besides featuring it at the graduate level, Professor Quelch expects the case will also be offered in Harvard’s executive-education classrooms this fall. It will then become part of the Harvard Business Publishing library of case studies, which collectively account for more than 80% of all business case studies taught worldwide.

Harvard Business Publishing Corporate Learning partners with clients to create world-class leadership development solutions for managers at all levels. It leverages the management insight, thought leadership, and expertise of Harvard Business School faculty and authors from Harvard Business Review to create tailored leadership development solutions. With more than 20 years of practical experience, its innovative, technology-enabled solutions drive meaningful and lasting business results. Corporate Learning is a market group within Harvard Business Publishing. For more information, visit HarvardBusiness.org.

Based in Southport, Connecticut, Pappas MacDonnell is a women-owned marketing and communications agency that works with some of the world’s best-known brands in financial services, healthcare, insurance and business services. Known for simplifying the complex, Pappas MacDonnell takes a disciplined approach to strategy, innovative creative, and a bias to challenge conventional thinking – which has helped achieve breakout results for clients for more than 35 years. For more information, visit PappasMacDonnell.com.

Access Health CT (also known as the Exchange) was created by the Connecticut Legislature in 2011 and is a quasi-public agency established to satisfy requirements of the federal Affordable Care Act. Its mission is to increase the number of insured residents in Connecticut, promote health, lower costs and eliminate health disparities. Its vision is to provide a simple online shopping and enrollment experience for state residents and small businesses, starting with open enrollment in October 2013. Access Health CT will ensure that participating health plans meet certain standards, and will facilitate competition and choice by rating the quality of each plan. Individuals and families buying coverage through the Exchange may qualify for tax credits on premiums. The Exchange will also coordinate eligibility and enrollment with state Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance Programs. For more information, visit AccessHealthCT.com.

Contact Philip Stevens


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