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Health Insurance & Affordable Care Act

Persuading 'Young Invincibles' To Buy Obamacare Insurance

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"We boot them off," Pollitz said. "We kick them out of Medicaid, (or) their parents' health insurance coverage just when they're starting off, just when they're not earning much and the odds are pretty low that they're going to get that first great new job with new benefits."

Young people aren't against being insured. A recent KFF poll found that about three quarters of 18-30 year olds believe having insurance is something they need and is important to have. The top reason younger people didn't have it: too expensive. But the law does provide subsidies for people earning up to 400 percent of the federal poverty line, $46,000 for a single person or $94,000 for a family of four. And, officials and advocacy groups are searching for ways to lure younger people in.

"What really appeals to that younger age group is both affordability -- they feel they just can't afford it -- and also communicating the value of insurance and how valuable it is to have that insurance and why you need," according to April Todd-Malmlov, the executive director of MNsure, Minnesota's online insurance marketplace. Minnesota is one of the 16 states that's building its own exchange.

Todd-Malmlov said Minnesota will target young adults in two ways -- in the social media they use, such as Twitter and Facebook, and the messages themselves.

Massachusetts found that out the value of targeted messages. The Bay State's 2007 law requires residents to obtain health care coverage or pay a fine, just like the federal law.

Looking to reach a wider audience, the state partnered with the Boston Red Sox and its New England Sports Network to encourage residents who lacked insurance to sign up through its online insurance marketplace, the Connector, Massachusetts' version of MNsure, which will launch Oct 1.

Fans at Fenway Park were a captive audience for ads touting the Connector on the Jumbotron or articles tucked inside game day programs. The public relations pitch stumbled at first as the public reacted poorly to TV ads featuring baseball players.

Uninsured people "didn't want anyone who had insurance and was making a good salary to sort of lecture them. It came off as 'you better do this,'" said Tara Murphy of the public relations firm Weber Shandwick, which devised the Massachusetts campaign.

Sun, Aug 18 2013

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