'Brosurance' Tries to Sell Obamacare: But Will it Work?
NEW YORK ( MainStreet) "Brosurance" is a clever marketing campaign launched Tuesday in Colorado aimed at recruiting twenty-somethings to sign up for Obamacare. The initiative--a group effort from non-profits Colorado Consumer Health Initiative , Thanks Obamacare and Progress Now Colorado --features ads with preppy dude-bros doing a keg stand, wearing multiple popped collars or performing rugged outdoor sports. Ostensibly, the campaign's message hits home that this demographic should not forego health insurance despite the lack of immediate need. After all, as the ad says, Gen Y-ers will have to tap into their beer money should a medical emergency arise while uninsured.
Of course, the blithe tone of the ads shrouds an important point: a healthy twenty-something guy ("a bro") without preexisting conditions or a major family predisposition to certain ailments will pay higher premiums under Obamacare than he would have in the last system, as Jonathan Chait noted in his New York piece " Is Obamacare a War on Bros? " This fun marketing is, as such, something of a gambit to entice Gen Y-ers, but the question remains: will this Affordable Care Act evangelism work?
"Lots of campaigns in different states have had a humorous bent, and humor is especially important on social media," said Adam Fox, director of strategic engagement at the Colorado Consumer Health Initiative Colorado who architected this campaign. "The idea is to raise awareness among different constituencies so that they know about their options - and the value of coverage."
Of course, the counter argument holds that a healthy bro will not want to pay the higher premiums found under Obamacare. Young people have uninsured rates that are about 10 percentage points higher than the general population mostly because they have few health worries and don't want to divert scarce dollars to something they don't expect to need.
Part of these ads, Fox said, is to make Gen Y-ers understand their financial burden may not be as dire as they think. To wit, young people generally make less money than older people, so they are more likely to qualify for monthly financial assistance to help afford insurance, Fox said. And for those Gen Y-ers particularly opposed to the idea of health insurance, there is also a specific plan for "young invincibles" - healthy young people under 30 - that is more affordable. In Colorado, this is cheekily called the CYA plan (Cover Your Assets).
It is important to dispel the conception that it's not essential for twenty-somethings to sign up for Obamacare, according to Gail Wilensky, a senior fellow at international health foundation Project HOPE and the director of Medicare and Medicaid programs from 1990 to 1992.
"Actually they're vitally important," she said of twenty-somethings. "They're what's going to balance the expected high-user population that are going to find their way into the risk pool. Actuarially, the premiums are higher for the younger population, because they want to soften the blow for the free Medicare population."