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Feds give Minnesota $9M to advertise MNsure health exchange

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What's MNsure? Many Minnesotans don't have a clue. But they're going to start hearing a lot more about it as a high-profile marketing effort gets under way.

MNsure is the state's new online health care marketplace, which grew out of the Affordable Health Care Act, often called Obamacare. State officials hope more than 1 million Minnesotans ultimately enroll in the program aimed in part in getting health care coverage to those who don't have it.

To help increase visibility, MNsure officials now have almost $9 million from the federal government for advertising as the state seeks to sign up the nearly 500,000 residents who don't have health insurance but must get it under Obamacare, the Associated Press reported Wednesday. That money is part of an expected $24 million in federal money that MNsure aims to eventually spend in a broad array of outreach initiatives, the AP reports.

At least $1.5 million will be spent on ad buys, the AP says. Advertising will start in July and August with literature given to community groups, and it will ramp up in mid- to late August with spots on TV, radio, billboards, newspapers and online, the AP reports.

The new MNsure site is designed to be a one-stop shop for residents and businesses seeking affordable health coverage, state officials say. Enrollment begins in October 2013.

Enrollees can apply for reduced or even free plans if they qualify. The Minnesota Legislature approved the creation of the health exchange earlier this year. (States had the option of creating their own exchanges or using one provided by the federal government.)

Here are some FAQs about the new marketplace.

MNsure plans to launch a call center Sept. 3 to answer the public's questions.

A board has been appointed to oversee the new exchange.

Here's a promo video for MNsure:

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