On September 27th, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) announced new initiatives to reach young adults during Open Enrollment and help them find affordable coverage through HealthCare.gov. Young adults had the highest uninsured rates before the Affordable Care Act and have seen the sharpest drop in uninsured rates since 2010. Yet millions of young adults remain uninsured, showing that there is more work to do to equip younger Americans with the tools and information they need to access coverage through the Health Insurance Marketplace. Today, we are announcing new strategies, new tools, and new partnerships to reach young people and help them get covered.
“More than 9 in 10 Marketplace-eligible young adults without health insurance have incomes that could qualify them for tax credits to make plans affordable, but that fact hasn’t fully penetrated the millennial community, and we want to change that,” said Kevin Counihan, HealthCare.gov CEO. “This year, we’ll be using new tactics and strategies to reach young adults where they are and deliver the message that they have affordable coverage options. These new tactics will both benefit young Americans and strengthen the Marketplace risk pool.”
New Digital Platforms
For the first time, Open Enrollment outreach will take advantage of online platforms that cater almost exclusively to young adults. Today, we are announcing the first of these new efforts: outreach utilizing Twitch, a social video platform and community for gamers. This effort will feature HealthCare.gov pre-roll before videos, a homepage takeover, and ongoing efforts with streamers on Twitch to amplify our message throughout Open Enrollment. Twitch currently attracts close to 10 million daily active users who, on average, spend 106 minutes per person per day on the site. According to ComScore, Twitch’s core demographic of 18-34 year-olds have above average uninsured rates.
According to ComScore, 1 in 5 millennials access the internet exclusively through mobile devices. Last year, consumers could easily enroll in coverage at HealthCare.gov through mobile devices, but if they wanted to actually shop around and compare plans, the mobile interface could be difficult and time consuming. This year, consumers will find an end-to-end, mobile optimized experience, including a new state-of-the-art shopping process that for the first time offers improved ability to comparison shop on their phone or tablet. Rather than clicking on tiny boxes or zooming in on hard-to-read screens, consumers will now find intuitive navigation and a streamlined interface to compare plans.
Targeted and Coordinated Partner Campaigns
During 2017 Open Enrollment, CMS and stakeholders will organize a young adult social media outreach campaign under one umbrella: #HealthyAdulting. As part of this coordinated campaign, longstanding Open Enrollment partners will be stepping up their social media engagement and will coordinate with each other to maximize the impact of that social media work in driving enrollment. CMS will be joining with partners to communicate with young people on the digital platforms they prefer – including Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr – and engaging in a conversation under a unified #HealthyAdulting message about issues young people care about, whether that’s mental health, women’s wellness, reproductive health, or diabetes prevention.
Collaborating with Federal Partners and Programs
As we get closer to Open Enrollment, we are also working with federal partners to reach people enrolled in their programs who may need and want Marketplace coverage, with a particular focus on reaching young adults. Today we are announcing two new efforts:
- The Department of Defense will include information about the Marketplace in the Transition Assistance Program, Transition GPS (Goals, Plans, Success) curriculum; more specifically, in the Personal Financial Planning module. The program, run through the Defense Transition Assistance Program Office, will inform transitioning Service members about health insurance options for their family, including HealthCare.gov coverage and possibility of qualifying for Marketplace financial assistance.
- The Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance Programs (CHIP) will work in coordination with HealthCare.gov to get more and better information to young adults aging out of these programs at age 19, to others exiting Medicaid or CHIP coverage, and to people who apply for these programs but have incomes too high to qualify. New this year, the Marketplace will be able to contact millions of these individuals via email and mail, and provide information about financial assistance and Marketplace coverage options during Open Enrollment. Almost half of the individuals in this group are age 18-34.
In addition, as previously announced, the Internal Revenue Service will conduct new outreach this year to uninsured people who paid the individual responsibility penalty or claimed an exemption, letting them know that tax credits are available for Marketplace coverage and providing information about their health coverage options. Young adults are overrepresented among those who paid the fee: about 45 percent of taxpayers paying a penalty or claiming an exemption were under age 35, compared to about 30 percent of all taxpayers in 2014. Experts have suggested reaching out to those who paid the fee or claimed an exemption to make sure they are aware of their options to enroll in coverage, an approach already implemented in Massachusetts. For more information on this campaign, click here.