With A Nod To Billy Joel, N.Y. Brands Obamacare Marketplace

Some folks like to get away, Take a holiday from the neighborhood. Hop a flight to Miami Beach or to Hollywood. But I’m takin’ a Greyhound on the Hudson River line. I’m in a New York state of mind

… er … make that “New York State of Health.”  Playing off the title of Billy Joel’s iconic 1976 song, the officials running New York’s health insurance exchange announced Tuesday that they have chosen New York State of Health as the brand name of their new online marketplace. 

“We wanted a name that was distinctive and unique to New York and is emotional and not just functional description,” said Leo Mamorsky, executive group account director with DDB New York  which is handling advertising  for the exchange.

In their first YouTube ad, there are scenes of Manhattan, Niagara Falls and people in rural and suburban settings. Joel’s song, though, is not on the video. Joel grew up in Hicksville, N.Y., and lives in the Hamptons.

New York is the latest state attempting to brand the new marketplaces. The marketplaces, one of the key ways the health care law extends coverage to the uninsured, open for enrollment Oct. 1, selling policies that will take effect Jan. 1. New York exchange officials announced last month that average premiums sold on the exchange would be about half the price they are today for individuals who buy their own insurance.

“In creating a name, we wanted it to be meaningful, memorable and capture the essence of what it is to be a New Yorker – that unique ‘can do’ attitude and state of mind,” said Donna Frescatore, New York  State of Health’s executive director. “We’re confident the ‘NY State of Health’ name and campaign will inspire New Yorkers who are uninsured or underinsured to explore the options and choose the plan that fits their needs.”

Despite being a fan favorite for decades, “New York State of Mind” was never a hit song and was never released as a single. Joel famously played the song at The Concert For New York City, the October 2001 benefit for the New York City Fire and Police Departments and the loved ones of first responders killed during the terrorist attack on Sept 11. He reprised that theme, playing it during his Dec. 12, 2012 concert at Madison Square Garden to raise money for victims of Hurricane Sandy, where he changed the lyrics to include places like “Breezy Point.”

New York officials did not immediately respond to questions about whether they had consulted Joel about their marketing effort.

Kaiser Health News is an editorially independent program of the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonprofit, nonpartisan health policy research and communications organization not affiliated with Kaiser Permanente.

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