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Case Study: Get Covered Illinois

The Challenge: Rolling out the biggest change in healthcare since the 1960s.

The Affordable Care Act (ACA), commonly referred to as Obamacare, was signed into law by President Obama in March 2010. Though some states chose to either create their own insurance exchanges or work solely through the federal marketplace, Illinois was one of eight states that opted for a partnership model. In 2013, Hawthorne Strategy Group was part of the team selected by the Office of the Governor to launch the consumer brand of the Illinois Health Insurance Marketplace – Get Covered Illinois (GCI).

The Solution: Engaging uninsured residents in the largest public education effort in state history.

The Get Covered Illinois agency team executed an integrated public education campaign to reach a diverse range of uninsured consumers throughout Illinois. The campaign, grounded in primary and secondary research, interacted with residents in more than seven languages in every county across the state. The tactical blend included:

  • Earned media

  • TV, radio, print, digital, out-of-home, and experiential advertising

  • Grassroots education

  • Influencer engagement, with a focus on insurance agents and brokers

  • Digital and social media

Hawthorne’s senior members served as co-leaders and key architects of the Get Covered Illinois campaign. Additionally, the Hawthorne team had primary responsibility for developing and executing engagement with insurance brokers, one of the most crucial and difficult audiences. Hawthorne designed an opportunity for health insurance agencies to participate in an innovative co-marketing program with GCI—only one of two programs of its kind in the nation. Selected insurance brokers received marketing and financial support for outreach and educational campaigns directed at new consumers, re-enrollees and the uninsured, including development of creative materials as well as media planning.

The Results: Enrolled nearly 1 million residents in health insurance.

In just under two years, GCI helped nearly one million Illinois residents, individuals and families gain access to quality, affordable health coverage. GCI has created and continued to mobilize a statewide network of volunteers, Navigators, brokers, community organizations, small businesses, corporations, media and many others to drive the results that have positioned Illinois as one the top states in the nation implementing the ACA. The campaign has been honored with more than a half dozen awards, ranging from the regional Emmy to the Public Sector Campaign of the Year. Hawthorne’s innovative leadership and dedication to the program helped make GCI a resounding success.


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