California lifted the curtain Thursday on its advertising for a new health insurance marketplace opening this fall as part of the federal health law.
Covered California, the state agency implementing the Affordable Care Act, said these initial TV ads will begin airing next week in a handful of test markets: San Diego, Sacramento, Chico and Redding.
A broader statewide campaign will kick off in October when people can begin signing up for health coverage that takes effect in January.
Overall, the state plans to spend $80 million through the end of next year on media and marketing, drawing on federal grant money.
The commercials shown Thursday, in English and Spanish, played up the tagline of "Welcome to a new state of health."
One of the ads features people driving along California's signature coastline with signs that read "Welcome to getting care" and "Welcome to feeling at ease."
A Spanish-language ad shows smiling faces inviting people into their homes, an auto repair shop and a cafe as they say, "Bienvenidos."
Two more ads play on the fears of those without health insurance, showing scenes of car crashes, bike accidents, sports injuries and crowded emergency rooms. The narrator tells viewers that they can move from the "state of what if" to a new "state of health."
Twelve health insurers will be selling individual and family policies in the new state exchange, and federal subsidies will be available to many consumers to make coverage more affordable.
Starting next year, most Americans must have health insurance or pay a penalty under the health law.
Covered California faces numerous challenges in spreading the word about the biggest healthcare expansion since Medicare nearly half a century ago. The state is trying to reach as many as 5 million Californians who are uninsured or don't get coverage from their employer.
In a Field Poll released last week, fewer than half of the voters surveyed whose income, age and insurance status qualify them for benefits under the health law knew about their eligibility.