Bringing Health Care to a New Generation

In order for the new healthcare law (a.k.a. the Affordable Care Act, a.k.a. Obamacare) to make health care affordable for all, people of every age and level of health must buy in. Young, healthy consumers must balance out the cost of chronically ill consumers, ensuring that health insurance premiums don’t skyrocket for everyone who has purchased the plans.

However, health reform advocates foresee a challenge in convincing young, healthy people to purchase health insurance – particularly if they are already strapped for money. To persuade this group to buy health insurance, it will be necessary to emphasize the benefits of paying an inexpensive monthly premium that can guard against expensive out-of-pocket expenses that a young person would have to pay if they get sick or go to the hospital.

Of primary importance is relaying this message in a way that will resonate with youth. The White House has ingeniously enlisted the website Funny or Die to create a series of funny online videos that will promote the health care law. The website has drawn 19 million unique viewers – a bulk of whom are youth.Pharrell ACA

President Obama has also met with Amy Poehler, Jason Derulo, Michael Cera and Jennifer Hudson, and asked them to help promote the healthcare law to young people. Derulo subsequently tweeted a message to his 2.3 million followers, asking them to sign up for health insurance at Poehler and other celebrities including Pharrell, Lady Gaga, Kerry Washington, Sophia Bush, Taye Diggs, Kate Bosworth and Olivia Wilde posted pictures of themselves on Instagram and Twitter holding signs with the hashtag #GetCovered .

Although it is still early to tell whether these tactics are working, I anticipate that the Obama administration will have the most success if they continue targeting youth on social media, using humor and respected pop culture icons to drive the messages home. This strategy enables youth to actively encourage their peers to sign up for a health insurance plan by re-tweeting or sharing content on social media.

You too can get involved via social media:

  • Share videos promoting the new healthcare law from the Funny or Die website
  • Tweet or Instagram a picture of yourself holding a sign with the hashtag #GetCovered
  • Retweet or re-post messages that will inspire others to sign up for health insurance plans
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I have extensive experience coordinating communications and outreach initiatives focused on health and social issues. In my current position as Project Specialist, I provide communications technical assistance to regional and federal efforts within the National Partnership for Action initiative, with support from the Office of Minority Health. I am a former Peace Corps volunteer who worked on health and social affairs projects in the Federated States of Micronesia. Read more.