State Health Exchange Amps Up Marketing To Reach Young Invincibles

Jan 15, 2014

You don’t often hear Justin Timberlake and health insurance in the same sentence. But this Friday, fans going to Key Arena to get their dose of Justin Timberlake will also get a chance to learn about health plans.

“You have to go where they are, and we know music is very important to this particular audience," said Michael Marchand, spokesperson for the state’s health exchange. "It is a place and a venue where you can ideally get your brand in front of a large number of them in one place.”

The health exchange has recently teamed up with concert organizer Live Nation to reach out to young adults. Through Live Nation, the exchange is launching a sweepstakes for a pair of tickets to the Sasquatch Music Festival. People who want to join the raffle will have to enter through the Washington Healthplanfinder’s Facebook page.

Washington Healthplanfinder has been setting up in a variety of locations to attract young adults: like concerts and the University of Washington campus, pictured.
Washington Healthplanfinder has been setting up in a variety of locations to attract young adults: like concerts and the University of Washington campus, pictured.
Credit Courtesy of Washington Healthplanfinder

All this is part of an overall effort to get more young people to sign up for health insurance. Early enrollment numbers show that one out of five people who bought health plans through the exchange is a young adult. Nationally, it’s one out of four.

Marchand said it’s important to have a mix of young people in the insurance pool; it spreads the risk. And nearly half of the state’s uninsured population is made up of young adults. He admits marketing to the “young invincibles” — that 18-34 age group — is a huge hurdle.

One challenge is many are hearing about health coverage for the first time.  “If people don’t understand why it’s important, they won’t do anything about it,” Marchand said. “So half the battle is getting them to understand the importance and then from that point you can have a conversation about what’s available, and get them on the path toward actually getting enrolled in health coverage.”

Even when young people understand the need, some still resist enrollment. They argue that the monthly premiums would cost more than paying out of pocket to see a doctor.

Even so, a national survey in 2013 shows that most young adults think having health coverage is important, and many worry about medical debt.