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Illinois Uses Grins to Reach Uninsured Young Adults

IMAGE: Not having health insurance is no laughing matter, but Get Covered Illinois says it could take a dose of humor to reach the 18-to-24 crowd and convince them to enroll in the health insurance marketplace. Ad courtesy of Get Covered Illinois.
IMAGE: Not having health insurance is no laughing matter, but Get Covered Illinois says it could take a dose of humor to reach the 18-to-24 crowd and convince them to enroll in the health insurance marketplace. Ad courtesy of Get Covered Illinois.
February 12, 2014

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. - While not having medical insurance is no laughing matter, state leaders are turning to humor to reach young Illinoisans who have not yet enrolled in the health insurance marketplace.

According to Get Covered Illinois, only 14,000 of the 61,000 Illinoisans who have signed up since the end of December are ages 18 to 34. Spokeswoman Sabrina Miller said young adults make up 53 percent of the state's uninsured residents.

"This age group, what we're calling the 'Young Invincibles,' that's who we're really trying to reach right now,” she said. “And that's our big push for the deadline on March 31, is to really get more young, healthy people signed up who are going to need health insurance."

Get Covered Illinois is partnering with The Onion, a well-known news satire website, with humorous ads targeting young adults. One features a man who is forced to sell his action figures to pay for medical bills because he failed to get health coverage.

Miller said many older people who have signed up for the health insurance marketplace got their information from traditional sources such as the newspaper. But with the younger crowd, she said the approach needs to be more creative. So, Get Covered Illinois has taken to social media and the Internet.

"It's a way that we can get to them that's funny, that's engaging and that's not threatening,” she said, “and that ultimately lets them know, 'Hey this is something you really need to do, and we think this is the best way to do it.' "

The next key enrollment deadline is Saturday, the last date on which people can apply for coverage that begins March 1. The full enrollment period for the Marketplace runs through March 31.

Mary Kuhlman, Public News Service - IL