Listen to your momma! Sign up for ‘ObamaCare’

Posted by AzBlueMeanie:

Insurers and advocacy groups are pursuing a new strategy in the quest to get millions of young people to sign up for "ObamaCare": They are appealing to their mothers. The New York Times reports, New Pitch for Health Law: Listen to Mom:

In one cheeky campaign, AARP is urging mothers to send e-cards to their children reminding them to sign up. One e-card reads, “As a reward for signing up for health insurance, I’ll defriend you on Facebook.” Another group, Organizing for Action, is seeking to steer holiday conversations toward health care by encouraging parents to have “the talk” with their adult children. (video below the fold. Check out barackobama.com/talk to learn more.).

And a Colorado group is promoting an ad featuring a hapless young man who calls his mother from the golf course: “Yo, Mom, do I got insurance?”

Recruiting enough young people is a major goal of the Obama administration because insurers need healthy customers to offset the cost of caring for those with expensive medical needs.

The goal carries even more urgency now that insurers are considering a proposal by President Obama to let people, many of them healthy, stay on their existing policies for another year. If fewer of those people buy insurance in the new marketplaces, signing up young people without insurance will be even more crucial. Young people also account for a major chunk of the uninsured. About 40 percent of the estimated 41 million uninsured people nationwide who are eligible for coverage are between the ages of 18 and 35, according to the administration.

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Advocacy groups and insurers are expected to make a major marketing push beginning in early December, when the Obama administration has said it expects the malfunctioning federal health care website to be working better. They have their targets set on two major deadlines: Dec. 23, when insurance must be purchased for coverage beginning on Jan. 1, and March 31, when the open enrollment period will end.

Beneath the marketing campaigns’ playful language is a deeper truth: When it comes to making major life decisions, many people — especially young adults — still turn to their mothers for help. More broadly, women make about 80 percent of the health care decisions for their families, according to the federal Labor Department.

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Of course, the administration and advocacy groups are also reaching out directly to young people themselves, collaborating with outlets like the comedy website Funny or Die (multiple videos), initiating social media campaigns, handing out fliers at concerts and sponsoring a video contest aimed at getting young people to sign up.

“People need to have heard about it a couple of times, and frankly from a couple of different sources,” said Jon Carson, the executive director of Organizing for Action, the nonprofit group that grew out of President Obama’s 2012 campaign organization. He said mothers represented just one avenue that they hoped would help persuade a young person to enroll. The recently posted video is part of a campaign, called Healthcare for the Holidays, that seeks to arm parents with talking points when they see their children at family get-togethers.

This approach may resonate especially well with the so-called millennial generation, which came of age in a recession and may still financially depend on their parents, say some experts.

“Millennials love their parents and they count on them for advice,” said Morley Winograd, the co-author of three books on the millennial generation. He noted that this might sound surprising to baby boomers, who famously rebelled against their parents’ generation. But millennials “assume that their parents have more worldly experience, and know about things like money and health insurance,” he said.

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The mother-knows-best strategy isn’t entirely new. In 2007, when Massachusetts introduced its health care law, officials mailed greeting cards, timed for Mother’s Day, to the parents of young men between the ages of 18 and 26. Market research had shown this group was among the most resistant to buying insurance. “The idea was to trigger a phone call from the parent to the child to say, ‘Hey, by the way, do you have insurance?’ ” said Kevin J. Counihan, who served as chief marketing officer for Massachusetts’s health insurance marketplace at the time. “We made the hypothesis that we could best reach the young men through their mothers.”

The effort, Mr. Counihan said, was a moderate success: Many parents decided to pick up the bill for their sons’ health insurance. And more often than not, “we found they bought the most expensive plan because apparently nothing was too good for Johnny.” Mr. Counihan is now chief executive of Connecticut’s state marketplace and said he was still targeting the mothers of young men by focusing on churches and community groups where they are likely to be members.

Insurers are also taking note of this influence. Shaun Greene, the chief operating officer at Arches Health Plan, a health care co-op in Utah, said he was surprised during a recent televised call-in when he fielded several calls from parents who quickly handed the phone to their children. “At least three of them had their kid by the ear,” he said, explaining: “My son or daughter needs insurance. Talk to them.”

A certain level of concern is just part of being a parent, said Nicole Duritz, who helped develop the AARP campaign. “I’m a mom and I’m constantly worried about my kids, and making sure they’re making good decisions,” she said. “And health insurance falls into that category.”

So listen to your momma. She loves you. You are not Young Invincibles. You need health insurance.

UPDATE: Enroll America has a webinar, Catch up on the latest session in our "She Knows" series by checking out the recording and slides posted online here.  With the holidays around the corner, we explained the importance of family members sharing information about the new health insurance options with each other.

The Get Covered America campaign launched a new "Healthy Homecomings" digital initiative for consumers to commit to helping their friends and family get covered this holiday season. Sign up for tips on how to get the conversation started.

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