Meet Anne Filipic, the woman tasked with selling Obamacare

January 15, 2013

Anne Filipic joined Enroll America on Tuesday as its president, leaving her post as the deputy director of the White House Office of Public Engagement. She will lead a multi-million-dollar effort to encourage millions of Americans to sign up for insurance under the new Affordable Care Act. We spoke Tuesday about why she took the job, how her group will use microtargeting and the role of celebrity spokespeople. What follows is a transcript of our conversation, lightly edited for clarity and length.

Sarah Kliff: I know you’ve done some work as an organizer for the Obama campaign. How do you see that factoring into your new role?

Anne Filipic: It’s an issue I care deeply about. I’ve worked for the president in different capacities for awhile now, since early 2007. I was at Health and Human Services working to get it passed. I left soon after in May 2010 to do other things but I truly believe there’s nothing more important for the president’s legacy than the number of people this law impacts. What is so exciting is how we can apply other tools, from electoral campaigns and the private sector, to increase the reach.

SK: What type of electoral campaign tools would you see being used in Enroll America’s work?

AF: It’s not one specific piece, but rather using all the tools we have at our disposal smartly. What I envision first is a lot of data and analytics, using a lot of the microtargetting that has taken off in recent years. there’s some potential to do what electoral campaigns do: Find people who wouldn’t be motivated to take action and inspire them in a way that they do.

I think in terms of really building a list of the uninsured across the country. If we know where people live, there’s a real ability to have one-on-one conversations. We’ll be doing a lot of what the private sector does, and what a lot of recent electoral campaigns have done in figuring out how do you build that list and then how do you communicate with those people.

SK: Is it actually possible to come up with a list of the uninsured? How do you go about doing that?

AF: This will not be one magical list that we pull together. But there are smart ways to do this, knowing generally about the population likely to fit in this category. What I think we’ll be fundamentally doing is thinking about all the ways to reach the people likely to be uninsured. That will take a fair amount of thinking creatively about how we can find that information.

SK: When you think about the scale of your job, and what you need to accomplish this year, how big does it seem? Is this on the scale of running a presidential campaign?

AF: It’s an enormous task. When you look at every piece of what we need to do and the fact that nearly three-quarter of the uninsured aren’t aware, that obviously means we have a lot of work to do.

It’s also an incredible opportunity. When people understand what this is and how it can impact their lives, there’s definitely a receptiveness. We’re going to need to use every tool at our disposal. We’re building this as large as necessary to communicate with everyone we need to.

SK: Tell me a bit more about the timeline for this campaign. When should we expect to start to see a roll out?

AF: We’ll be exploring that. We know that there’s a tremendous amount of education and coalition building that’s begun and that will continue into the spring and summer.

We do have to be mindful about how we talk about the law before Oct. 1, when folks can actually go online and sign up in the exchanges. We’ll have a strong presence before the exchanges, definitely, but we have to be smart about what that looks like.

SK: How are you guys thinking about spokespeople, paid media and other ways to talk to the people you hope to sign up?

AF: Without question, I think we’ll have voices who are nationally known who can be great spokespeople to the audiences we’re trying to reach, those who are likely to be uninsured. It’s powerful to think about those voices on the state and local level too.

It won’t just be the celebrity voices they hear though. We also want them to hear from family members, who can be good messengers. You could think of a program where mothers talk to young, uninsured sons. You can imagine paid media running on the local TV station when there’s also that conversation happening. That’s what we think will be required to make this work.

 

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