Young Adult Enrollment in Affordable Care Act Plans Needs Improvement

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services have created a campaign to decrease the uninsured rate of young adults.

The US Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) recently launched a new campaign that aims to increase enrollment of young adults in the Affordable Care Act during the open enrollment period.

This group had the highest uninsured rates prior to the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, and had the most significant decrease in the uninsured rate since 2010, according to a press release. Although young adults have made great progress, millions still remain uninsured, and additional efforts need to be made to educate this population about their options.

CMS created new strategies, new tools, and new partnerships to help young adults receive coverage through HealthCare.gov to address these issues. Open enrollment outreach will now include the use of online platforms that are primarily used by young adults, according to the press release.

They plan to utilize the social video platform and community for gamers called Twitch, which attracts nearly 10 million users. This part of the initiative includes pre-roll prior to videos, takeover of the homepage, and other ongoing methods.

The importance of this platform is that it primarily attracts 18- to 34-year-olds, and the uninsured rate among these users is higher than average, the CMS said. Another initiative is creating a more optimal navigation of HealthCare.gov through mobile devices, since millennials, those 18- to 34-years old, primarily use the internet through these devices.

While there were no technical issues enrolling through mobile devices previously, shopping around for plans could be difficult. Now, individuals will be able to compare plans in an easy and streamlined way, the CMS said.

The CMS and stakeholders will also be leading a social media outreach campaign through #HealthAdulting. These partners will step up their social media engagement on Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr, and coordinate with other stakeholders to improve enrollment, according to the press release.

Under #HealthyAdulting, messages about mental health, women’s wellness, reproductive health, diabetes prevention, and other topics important to millennials will reach approximately 5 million followers on the different platforms.

A “Twitter storm” will be created by the National Council of La Raza to engage with millennial Latinos, and immigrants to discuss healthcare. Other organizations will target various groups discussing issues important to their followers.

Other government partners, such as the Department of Defense and the Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance Programs, will also participate in this outreach plan. The Department of Defense will include information about Affordable Care Act marketplaces in the Transition Assistance Program, which will inform service members about health insurance options for their families.

The CMS estimates that 200,000 transitioning service members will receive this information each year. The Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance Programs will collaborate with HealthCare.gov to inform individuals aging out of these programs about their options for health insurance through marketplaces.

The marketplaces will be able to conduct outreach to this group that they were previously unable to do effectively. They will be able to contact millions of these individuals to provide information about financial assistance and their options.

The CMS estimates that half of these individuals that will be contacted will be 18- to 34-years-old. They will also be creating new communication guidelines demonstrating best practices for reaching out to this population.

Additionally, the Internal Revenue Service will also be participating in outreach this year by informing those who paid a penalty or claimed an exemption for being uninsured about tax credits and health insurance options. Approximately 45% of taxpayers who paid the penalty or claimed an exemption were under 35-years-old in 2014, according to the CMS.

“More than 9 in 10 Marketplace-eligible young adults without health insurance have incomes that could qualify them for tax credits to make plans affordable, but that fact hasn’t fully penetrated the millennial community, and we want to change that,” said Kevin Counihan, HealthCare.gov CEO. “This year, we’ll be using new tactics and strategies to reach young adults where they are and deliver the message that they have affordable coverage options. These new tactics will both benefit young Americans and strengthen the Marketplace risk pool.”