CHICAGO – With the Affordable Care Act (ACA) enrollment period entering the homestretch, Get Covered Illinois (GCI) is carrying out a statewide campaign to reach the critical “Young Invincibles” and encourage them to enroll by the March 31 deadline. The campaign includes celebrity endorsements, tongue-in-cheek videos running as TV ads and on digital platforms, ads during local NCAA March Madness broadcasts and other targeted efforts. “Young Invincibles” are 18 – 34 year-olds who comprise nearly half the uninsured population in Illinois. 

“Young people often think that they don’t need health insurance because they are young and seemingly healthy,” Jennifer Koehler, Executive Director of GCI said. “But the reality is anything can happen to anyone – regardless of their age. An accident or unexpected illness could put anyone into medical debt if they don’t have health coverage. We are urging people to protect themselves from a financial disaster and enroll in a health care plan now, before the deadline passes on March 31.”

As of February 28, some 28,433 Illinois residents between the ages of 18 – 34 have selected a private health care plan through the federal website since the six-month enrollment period started October 1. To date, more than 323,000 uninsured Illinois residents have signed up for health coverage. A total of 113,733 have purchased a plan through the Illinois Health Insurance Marketplace; an additional 210,000 have enrolled in expanded Medicaid under the ACA. GCI is on pace to meet the state-level enrollment estimate of 143,000 for the Marketplace established last September by the US Department of Health and Human Services (from national Congressional Budget Office estimates).

Recognizing that humor is one of the most effective ways to reach younger adults, GCI is using targeted campaign of humorous ads, video testimonials and public service announcements to engage a younger audience. In the last month, marketing efforts on BuzzFeed, Pandora, The Onion, Facebook, Twitter, AOL Video and YouTube drove 41,300 users to the GCI website, GetCoveredIllinois.gov. Of these individuals, nearly 100 percent of those visitors were new to the website. 

Overall, traffic has picked up significantly on the GCI website jumping from 10,000 visitors per day in February to 25,000 a day recently. 

Strategies to reach African-American and Hispanic “Young Invincibles” include: e-blasts, interviews and live broadcasts on Hip-Hop oriented Power 92 (WPWX-FM), 107.5 WGCI-FM and Univision Radio. Public Service Announcements featuring retired Mexican soccer star Jared Borgetti, and retired championship boxer Fernando “El Feróz” Vargas will appear on Telemundo.

GCI has also partnered with celebrities including Wilmette-native and Fall Out Boy bassist Pete Wentz, local Chicago actors Yuri Sardarov, Christian Stolte and David Eigenberg, and recent Top Chef contestant, Carlos Gaytan, on a series of Public Service Announcements encouraging uninsured residents to get covered:

Other video testimonials geared toward “Young Invincibles” include: 

  • “Hard Choices” series: a tongue-in-cheek look at the hard choices young people have to make if they don’t have health coverage and are faced with paying high medical bills
  • “Extreme Stories” series: depicts three young people who are telling the story of a friend who doesn’t have health insurance, when in fact they’re telling their own story
  • “Medical Shopping Network”: pokes fun at infomercials on the high cost of medical care without coverage. Get Covered Illinois has a better deal for uninsured residents 

The following promotions were also designed to engage younger sports and music fans:

  • Promotions during Bulls games on Comcast SportsNet, as well as homepage takeovers on its website
  • Live broadcasts from enrollment events with 103.5 KISS FM
  • Weekly e-blasts from 101.9 The Mix
  • Social media posts in GCI gear with B.96 personalities 

Finally, GCI is urging health care consumers to take advantage of the assistance that is being offered via the web, over the phone and in person through hundreds of community partners statewide. 

  • Visit our website at GetCoveredIllinois.gov (includes a Spanish-language version).
  • Call the Get Covered Illinois Help Desk at 866-311-1119. Operators are available each day from 8:00 am to 8:00 pm.   
  • Meet in person with a specially trained “Navigator” who can help you understand your options and help you even enroll at one of the hundreds of partner sites across the state. There are more than 1,500 Navigators throughout the state that can be located by visiting the website and entering your zip code or through calling the Help Desk.  

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