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Friday, Oct 31, 2014
Commentary

How not to market Obamacare to Millennials


Published:

The White House is desperate to sign up Florida’s Millennials for Obamacare. With the March 31 enrollment deadline closing fast, the latest figures show that only 23 percent of the state’s Obamacare sign-ups are between ages 18 and 34. That’s a far cry from the 40 percent that the White House wants.

Blame the Obamacare marketing team. Since the exchanges launched last October, their attempts to convince us to sign up have been inappropriate, incoherent, and simply insulting.

The list of examples is long and painful, but the “Brosurance” ads — which have gone viral across the country — are the most famous flop by far. In print and social media, these ads paint the picture of Millennials as drunks and dolts.

One ad shows three young men —“bros”— doing a keg stand. Its tagline: “Don’t tap into your beer money to cover those medical bills.” Another tries to link flu shots to liquor shots. The worst ad shows a guy and a girl about to hook up. It reads, “I hope he’s as easy to get as this birth control.”

Needless to say, this insulted more Millennials than it convinced. They ultimately reached a huge portion of the youth market, but only because the outrage was so intense that the ads were lampooned on national television. When Comedy Central showed the ads to a group of twentysomethings, every last one expressed disgust and disappointment.

Those same Millennials were likely left scratching their heads at some of the White House’s other marketing ploys.

Take the recent Magic Johnson ad, for instance. It was clearly made by someone who doesn’t understand anyone under 30. Most Millennials don’t even know who Magic Johnson is. He retired in 1991. Today’s college students were all born after that — meaning they couldn’t tell you if he played baseball, basketball, or maybe cricket.

Other ads have drawn scorn and ridicule.

The “pajama boy” social media campaign led to scathing responses from the media for making Millennials look self-absorbed and annoying.

The “Mom jean” campaign tried — and failed — to link health coverage with awkward-fitting pants. The case for health care had never been less clear.

One of the administration’s allies, Get Covered America, took the confusion a step further. They created a two-minute original song featuring singing cats, dogs, and birds. Intended to spark a nationwide increase in enrollments, the ad was greeted by silence, only receiving 60,000 views on YouTube.

Given such pitiful attempts at reaching the young and the healthy, it’s no surprise that Millennials haven’t responded by signing up for Obamacare in droves. In reality, it’s too expensive for too many Millennials, and none of the marketing campaigns have been slick enough to bury this fact.

Obamacare leaves the average 27 year old in Florida facing a 47 percent premium increase for insurance plans on the exchange, according to Forbes. Even after subsidies, that’s an expense that many Millennials can’t afford.

Perversely, such high costs make it even harder for us to purchase health insurance in the future, when we can afford it. By not signing up for expensive plans now, insurance rates will increase as soon as next year — for everyone. That leaves us with two choices: Buy an unaffordable plan now, or wait and buy an unaffordable plan later.

Our only remaining option is to opt out of Obamacare entirely. If the latest numbers are any indication, that’s exactly what Millennials in Florida are doing. We know a bad deal when we see one—and we’re not as dumb as Obamacare’s marketers seems to think.

Evan Feinberg is the president of Generation Opportunity. ”Generation Opportunity is a national, free-market-oriented, nonpartisan nonprofit that mobilizes Millennials to improve their chance at prosperity and protect our freedom.”

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