Healthcare Exchange in Illinois Bold Move


In a bold move by Illinois Healthcare Exchange, they have teamed up with the satirical site The Onion to market insurance to younger adults who are still uninsured. With the deadline looming, the Illinois healthcare exchange needed to figure out a way to reach adults who were somehow missing their message. A marketing team determined that these adults frequented sites like The Onion and therefore would be more likely to see ads there than anywhere else. Opponents of the new law are calling this an appropriate move “Obamacare meets satire,” one site says.

The target demographic that The Onion reaches in Illinois is between 21 and 34. With the March 31st deadline quickly approaching, the Illinois exchange hired a marketing team to determine who they were missing and how best to reach them. This research led directly to The Onion, a satirical news site on the internet whose readers are composed of 21-34 year old, affluent, well-educated, men and women.

The ad campaign will consist primarily of a banner running on the page depicting a young man, uninsured who is forced to sell his action figure collection in order to pay for his medical bills. The site has said that they will also be posting a video, special news section and editorials, all focused on Get Covered Illinois, the initiative in Illinois to bring more of their residence into the health care plan.

Proponents of the plan say that in order for the new healthcare law to work young healthy individuals must sign up for coverage. This will offset the older individuals and those with pre-existing conditions. Jennifer Koehler the executive director of Get Covered Illinois stated that 53 percent of uninsured Illinois residents were the “Young Invincibles” and that in order to reach this particular group of people they needed to use “non-traditional” means of communication. This bold move should help to bolster the enrollment in the Illinois Healthcare Exchange.

ComScore, an Analytics company in the United States, estimates that The Onion’s primary audience is 21-34 years of age. This new ad scheme goes along with other state’s reaching out through the use of satire to the young adult population. In Colorado the “Brosurance” ads were very popular. Illinois has been the first state though to reach out to The Onion, said CEO Steve Hannah. He also stated that the ads will be specifically targeting Illinois state residents.

Nationally only about 15 percent of the individuals enrolled in the healthcare plan meet the target age group. Illinois is reporting similar numbers on a state level, which is why they say this new ad campaign is necessary. The state has already invested $33 million in marketing through traditional means, and now they plan on spending another $150,000 with this new campaign. The Onion’s ad agency Onion Labs will create the banners and these ads will run through the March 31 deadline.

This move with The Onion’s bold ads are not the only way that Illinois Healthcare Exchange is planning on reaching out to the uninsured. Through the month of February for Black History Month the state also plans to reach out to African-Americans who are uninsured by having a church based enrollment drive.

By Rachel Woodruff

Austin Weekly News
Wisconsin Gazette
Chicago Tribune

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