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HIX Ads Take Aim at Millenials

Jacqueline Fellows, for HealthLeaders Media, August 21, 2013

The White House is trying to creatively target young, healthy adults to persuade them to participate in health insurance exchanges. The NFL, NBA, and Oprah Winfrey were contacted, but none have signed a deal yet. Minnesota hopes it has better luck with Paul Bunyan.

Advertising for the new federally mandated health insurance exchanges is ramping up across the country. Open enrollment for a HIX, from Alaska to Alabama, is less than six weeks away, October 1, and pressure is on the White House to sign up millions of uninsured Americans.

Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius has set a goal of enrolling 7 million people into the exchanges by the end of March 2014, when open enrollment closes. However, the figure Sebelius and President Barack Obama's administration are likely watching more closely is 2.7 million. That's the number of people aged 18–34 that need to enroll to make the exchanges affordable, according to the Congressional Budget Office.

To court the young and healthy, HHS has announced it is holding a video contest to engage young adults to enter videos that illustrate the need for health insurance in three different categories. Budding directors, singers, and animators will compete for cash, and the winning entries will be determined by online votes from the public.

A more sophisticated approach, which has yet to materialize, will use high profile celebrities to promote the benefits of enrolling for insurance on the exchanges. Overtures by the administration to partner with the NFL, which would have reached the younger male demographic, got no help from a couple of GOP lawmakers and were eventually rebuffed.

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