It all started with Pajama Boy.
The Obama Administration has been making its pitch to get millennials to sign up for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act since Oct. 1, employing a host of marketing tactics including the ad featuring a young man in a onesie sipping on hot chocolate in his pajamas encouraging his peers to get covered.
All of the tactics are aimed to get the young adults, specifically those between the ages of 18 and 34 to enroll in coverage to help keep premium costs in check.
So far, the campaigns haven’t brought the enrollment numbers to where the administration and the Department of Health and Human Services had originally forecast. The original goal was to have 7 million enrollees in year one, with 2.7 million of them young and healthy people needed to offset the cost of insuring older and less healthy people. That number was later revised down to 6 million by March 31.
As of this week, 5 million people have selected plans on both state and federal exchanges. Of the previously-reported 4.2 million enrollees released last week, 25% were between the ages of 18 and 34.
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So what’s holding millennials back?
Reason: My parent’s plan is cheaper
While the Obama Administration has enlisted a few angry moms in its latest push to get young people enrolled in coverage, some are already covered thanks to the provision in the law that allows people to stay on their parent’s health insurance until 26.
“I am currently covered under my parent’s plan, so I won’t need to,” says 23-year-old Felecia Rubitone, a medical assistant from Staten Island. She says that once she is 26 and no longer eligible, she may consider the ACA exchanges. “Depending on where I am working at the time.”
Henry Guilbault, 22, and Leah Seitz, 20, both from California, say they are also sticking with mom and dad’s coverage. “I still have it through my dad’s insurance, and it’s cheaper,” Guilbault says.
And despite being offered insurance through his employer, Kurt Stielow, a 24-year-old teacher from Wisconsin, says he’s not signing up because he can “stay on his parent’s insurance” and it’s “cheaper.”
Scott Fayter, a 27-year-old postal service worker from Philadelphia, says that he has insurance, but wasn’t thrilled about his premium’s potential price spikes under the ACA. “From what I was reading, my insurance is going to go up like 30 to 35%,” Fayter says. “That is kind of unfair to the people who already have insurance.”
Reason: I haven’t had the time
Time and money are holding back Ruben Rangel, a 31-year-old truck driver from Texas. He’s aware of the upcoming deadline thanks to email reminders from the White House.
“I know it’s coming close,” Rangel. “I have been thinking about it, but haven’t had the time to get to it, but I know the time is running out so I will.”
David Boski, 30, from New York, had issues enrolling online and says he lost a lot of time. “I sat for two or three hours and the website was down the entire time,” Boski says. “I didn’t know there was a deadline.”
Viral Marketing Tactics Clever or Cheesy?
President Obama even got in on the push to get millennials to sign up. He appeared on the online parody show “Between Two Ferns” alongside with comedian Zach Galifianakis.
There was also an online ‘twerking’ video released this week to show millennials that accidents happen, and they should be covered.
Brendan McCann, 21, a student from Long Island, says he won’t be enrolling in insurance right now because he is under his parents’ plan, but he isn’t convinced the viral tactics will work on his peers.
“I think that by appearing in these viral videos and comedy sketches, it takes away the seriousness of the issue,” McCann says. “Health care is a very important issue, especially for young people in this country.”
The viral marketing tactics don’t work for Stielow, either. “Maybe they will for someone else though.”
Fayter also didn’t find these marketing techniques all that engaging. “I think my generation is a little bit smarter than that,” he says. “So I think it’s a waste of time, in all honesty.”
But Guilbault says it may just work. “If it’s funny, we will sign up,” he says.
Even with viral marketing tactics employed, some weren’t aware of why all the ‘twerking’ and goofing off was taking place.
“I didn’t know that’s why he was doing it, but it definitely caught my attention,” Seitz says. “It’s pretty stupid, but it definitely makes us laugh.”