HHS to promote Obamacare to youth during Sochi Olympics

Katie LaPotin, Red Alert Politics, January 8, 2014

Still struggling to sell healthcare plans to the American public — in particular, young adults — the Obama administration is planning to run an Olympic-sized ad campaign during the coverage of the Sochi Olympics next month.

The ad buy was confirmed by a spokesperson for the Department of Health and Human Services Tuesday, with the majority of the ads running in markets with high rates of uninsured people. According to POLITICO, these areas include Houston, Dallas, Tampa and Miami — all places that senior HHS officials like Secretary Kathleen Sebelius have visited in recent months to promote the program.

HHS spokeswoman Joanne Peters said in an email to reporters that the ad campaign is “part of a sustained, aggressive campaign for the duration of open enrollment. HHS is using a mix of grass-roots activities and stakeholder engagement to raise awareness, as well as targeted television, radio and digital advertising with an emphasis on reaching young and healthy audiences in particular.” Americans have through March 31 to sign up for health insurance through the exchanges for 2014.

The ads will also be targeted specifically toward ‘Young Invincibles’ — Millennials who do not currently have insurance — and their families. HHS chose to move part of its paid media budget for Obamacare promotion to the coverage of the Olympic games because viewership for primetime and other sports programming dip substantially during the games. While the exact size of the ad buy has yet to be released, the ads will cover all media formats, according to The Hill

It is also unknown whether the ads will include Olympics-related content.

Problems with the federal healthcare exchange website, Healthcare.gov, have resulted in lower than expected signups over the past three months. As a result, the White House has pushed back several of the enrollment deadlines, causing mass confusion for both individuals and insurance companies alike. Just 1.1 million Americans signed up for healthcare through the exchanges between Oct. 1 and Dec. 24 — the last date to sign up to have coverage effective Jan. 1 — a figure that will make it difficult for the Administration to reach its goal of 7 million signups by March 31.

The higher-than-expected average age of Americans who signed up for health care through the exchanges is also troublesome for the administration, as it jeopardizes the financial solvency of the program.

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