Obamacare’s Brackett for March Madness

The Obama administration is using the NCAA tournament and March Madness to help sell its health care reform law. They want to reach young and healthy consumers who have been slow to sign up for insurance under the new health care reform law, two weeks before the critical enrollment deadline.

The administration has marshaled athletes, coaches, and sports celebrities to help sell the law to the so-called “young invincibles,” whose participation is vital to the success of the insurance marketplaces. To date, just 25 percent of enrollees are aged 18-35, well below the administration’s target.

The field of teams in the college basketball tournament is set to be chosen on Sunday, also knows as “Selection Sunday.” On Monday, the White House will release a “16 Sweetest Reasons to Get Covered” bracket listing the top reasons to get health insurance, along with a new web video featuring top college basketball coaches. The bracket will be updated all week to reflect the results of an online survey. The bracket is timed to coincide with the release of President Barack Obama’s selections for his own NCAA tournament bracket on Wednesday.

In addition, ads paid for by the Department of Health and Human Services featuring LeBron James, Magic Johnson and Alonzo Mourning will air during March Madness games and on ESPN, ABC, TNT and NBAtv, while the agency is targeting digital ads to basketball supporters. Administration officials including Chief of Staff Denis McDonough and Senior Advisor Dan Pfeiffer have called into sports radio stations across the country to promote insurance enrollment. The effort follows Obama’s appearance in a Funny Or Die Web video, “Between Two Ferns,” as well as a call-in to Ryan Seacrest’s radio show.

Last week the administration announced that 4.2 million Americans have enrolled in coverage through federal and state health care exchanges, well below the initial seven million projection and the revised six million projection from the Congressional Budget Office. The White House has said that the final weeks of the enrollment period are when they expect to see a surge in enrollment, particularly among young people, to avoid the law’s tax penalty for not having coverage.

This effort also builds on the strategies the Administration and stakeholders have been using to reach young people where they are, including by appealing to them through their mothers, who are often are the primary influences in the health care decisions of their adult children. On Friday, an interview the President did with WebMD aired on the platform’s website, which has 156 million views per month – over 60 percent of which are women. And on Friday, a new online video campaign, YourMomCares, was launched by outside organizations, featuring the mothers of celebrities like Jonah Hill, Adam Levine, Jennifer Lopez and Alicia Keys, and the First Lady, all talking about the importance of getting covered.

The coming weeks will determine if this strategy is successful.

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3 Responses to Obamacare’s Brackett for March Madness

  1. alyssagr says:

    Wow, Patti! Interested to see how much is being done to market the health care reform law, particularly right now. I was at Barclays Center this weekend in Brooklyn for the Atlantic10 conference men’s basketball tournament and was interviewed as a ‘young adult’ when I left the arena after the game about my knowledge of Obama’s health care reform. I wonder if this was a related initiative.

  2. chrisbasciano says:

    Ton of dispute on this topic. I don’t think the President utilizing social media to spread the word is a bad thing – everyone else does it!

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