Groups Offer Prizes to Young People to Sign Up for Obamacare

Friday, 14 Mar 2014 12:16 PM

By Melanie Batley

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As the March 31 deadline to enroll in Obamacare approaches, a number of groups have resorted to offering young people rewards to get them to sign up for the new healthcare program.

Young Invincibles, a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit group, launched a sweepstakes last week which will award a $1,200 cash prize to people who download their healthcare app or submit a card in the mail which organizers hope will educate young people about whether they qualify for financial assistance while encouraging them to enroll, Market Watch, part of The Wall Street Journal, reported.

"This last month is going to be a huge push for educating young adults," Jen Mishory, deputy director for Young Invincibles, told Market Watch.

Another organization, Ninjas for Health, is trying to promote the law among the young by commissioning musicians to sing and record a song about the benefits of getting health insurance. The group has also created a competition among local musicians to see who could develop the best remix of the song.

"We're starting a conversation with people who wouldn't normally be talking about this," Kyle Pfister, the organization's founder, told Market Watch. He said, however, he does not have hard numbers for how many people reached out to Obamacare navigators or visited HealthCare.gov as a result of the contest.

State-based exchanges are also trying gimmicks targeting the young. DC Health Link promoted a new educational app at a local bar last week. The Washington Health Benefit Exchange in Washington state is partnering with roller derby groups to help spread the word. And Connect for Health Colorado hosted a comedy show earlier this month for young adults, according to Market Watch.

Meanwhile, President Barack Obama pushed HealthCare.gov this week in a comedic interview with actor Zach Galifianakis of "The Hangover."

The "Funny or Die" video generated a record number of referrals to the site, with 890,000 visits by the end of the day, a 40 percent increase from the day before.

To date, the Obama administration has struggled to enroll young people whose participation in the new healthcare law is a necessary condition to achieve affordable coverage; young, healthy adults need to enroll to offset the costs of healthcare for older and chronically ill consumers.

So far, 25 percent of those who have selected private plans are between the ages of 18 and 34, though administration officials have said they expect young people to wait until the last minute to enroll, according to Market Watch.

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