Meet the MedCity Media Team

And take 2 minutes to help us make MedCityNews.com better for you.

Every year, we ask you to tell us a little about yourself (anonymously) to help us create better, more relevant content and features for you. We consider every response and very much appreciate you taking the time to assist us.

Please click the button above to open a simple, multiple choice survey that should only take 2 minutes to complete.

Thank you,

The MedCity Media Team

New Obamacare ad: ‘Let’s hope he’s as easy to get as this birth control’

5:24 am by | 0 Comments

birth control

It was the concussion, she laughs now, that "knocked some sense into me."

LaNika Wise is part of that demographic of 18- to 34-year-olds known as the "young invincibles." Healthy and young, they are Americans who -- when looking at life's other expenses, such as student debts and first mortgages and car loans -- might forgo health coverage.

Now, the Michigan woman's story has moved to center stage as Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan's office, state and local advocates for health reform, and even the federal government, step up efforts to convince young Americans of the importance of health coverage under the 2010 Affordable Care Act.

-- Navigating health care reform: A guide to the Affordable Care Act

Advertisement

Some feature edgy, even funny ads, such as those in the "Got Insurance?" social media campaign in Colorado. One Obamacare ad features a young man perched on a keg: "My budget will stay balanced, even if I don't, because I got insurance," it reads.

"OMG, he's hot!" reads another, under a young woman named "Suzie." She holds a packet of pills while she stands next to "Nate." "Let's hope he's as easy to get as this birth control."

Premiums from younger, healthier people help offset the costs of older, sicker beneficiaries in insurance pools. Insurers are tracking the demographics of their insurance pools closely, and some worry that without enough young people, premiums will climb in the coming years.

By Feb. 1, about 1 in 4 consumers who had purchased policies on state marketplaces both in Michigan and across the U.S. were 18 to 34. Some have argued the numbers fall short; others say that's plenty.

The clock is ticking.

With few exceptions, anyone who hasn't purchased coverage by March 31 will have to go without until next year, when open enrollment begins again for health coverage. Only a qualifying life event, such as the birth of a baby or a new job, or a special status, such as being a member of an American Indian tribe, will enable most Americans to shop for health coverage after March 31.

That means the last-minute push is on to convince Americans to check out their options, especially the younger demographic that, in the field, has been called the "Y.I.'s."

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services is hitting the Internet and TV with ads featuring young musicians and athletes, as well as basketball great Earvin (Magic) Johnson and the Miami Heat's Alonzo Mourning. "Enroll today," Mourning says, palming a basketball, "so you can stay in the game."

Another ad uses a mom in a pink sweater sitting at a kitchen table as she shows her son the www.healthcare.gov website.

"Are you ever going to stop worrying about me?" her son asks.

"When you get covered, I will," she says.

And separately -- accompanied by a snapshot of blue jeans: "Mom may love her comfy jeans, but she'll love it when you #GetCovered, too," tweeted @HHSgov.

The moms campaign leverages those whom Jackie Garner calls "key influencers."

"They see their mom as a trusted information source," said Garner, a senior official in the Midwest region of the U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. "And that purchase of insurance is very important to moms."

Reaching out to young people, many of whom have never had insurance, "requires us to be very creative," she said.

Wise, for her part, got a call from DHSsoon after she signed up for health care coverage, inviting her to appear alongside Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius during a Detroit news conference.

Wise, a Flint woman who cobbles together acting jobs in Detroit as well as gigs as volleyball coach and marketing agent for gospel music, was scheduled to shoot a video for Duggan's office to convince others, in a social media blitz, about the importance of health coverage.

And in a 30-second spot that launched last week on the federal website, www.healthcare.gov, and on TV in several states, Wise smacks a serve and high-fives a friend.

Wise said she's "elated" by her insurance coverage, which costs her about $97 a month.

An otherwise healthy 34-year-old, Wise had been without coverage until late December, just days after she suffered a concussion, having slammed into a setter on the volleyball team as both dove for a ball. Those bills still aren't final, she said, but she no longer has to worry about other unexpected medical crises.

"Everybody should be covered," she said.

Also this month, advocates stepped up efforts at community college campuses, coffee shops and even at a blood drive at the University of Michigan-Dearborn. They know that's where they'll find the younger consumer, said Chae Williams, an organizer with Linden-based Community Bridges Management, a consumer advocacy group serving Wayne, Oakland, Macomb and Genesee counties.

"I really see them on both sides of the coin," Williams said. "You have your young folks who have never been sick and never had health care and, yeah, you have to highlight that need (for coverage)," he said. "But then you have others who may not have been sick themselves, but they've seen their parents get sick and they're ready to sign up."

Insurers are watching closely to see whether those numbers budge by March 31.

"If you get an older, less-healthy population, that's not a good business proposition," said Randy Narowitz, CEO of Detroit-based insurer Total Health Care.

But Narowitz and others said it's sometimes a tough sell, in part, because young people assume they can't afford policies. They don't realize tax credits can significantly reduce premium costs and even cost-sharing, like co-payments.

Another obstacle? There's no easy way to focus marketing to young people like there is other products, say, by advertising on certain TV shows, said Karl Albrecht, president of Southfield-based Action Benefits, which works with agents to administer policies.

"There's not like a club for uninsured people you can go speak with," he said.

And even though tax credits might reduce the costs for some consumers, others might pay hundreds of dollars a month for a policy. If they've never had insurance before, they're not thinking about the risk of medical debt if something goes wrong. Rather, they think: Why bother?

For most Americans, going without insurance will mean a penalty of $95 or 1% of income, whichever is higher. One study estimates that about 3.7 million Americans ages 18 to 34 will be about $500 better off if they skip insurance and pay the penalty instead.

"You want the the young people to help pay for the older folks who are higher (users) of health care, but the young people have something to say about that, too," Albrecht said.

Contact Robin Erb: 313-222-2708 or [email protected] Follow her on Twitter https://twitter.com/FreepHealth ___

Copyright 2014 MedCity News. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Hear the latest news first

Get our daily newsletter or follow us.

 

Advertisement