By Donna Gordon Blankinship Associated Press
SEATTLE — The people who run Washington’s new health care exchange are hoping rock ‘n roll will inspire more young people to sign up for insurance.
On Wednesday, they announced a partnership with a major concert producer to publicize the value of health insurance at rock concerts including the popular Sasquatch Music Festival.
Young adults from 18 to 34 made up only 21 percent of the people who signed up for private insurance through the new system between Oct. 1 and Dec. 31 in Washington state.
Insurance experts say the state and the nation need more youth to buy insurance to control the cost of insurance premiums. That’s because health care gets more expensive as people age, so young healthy people help share the cost and keep premiums lower for everybody.
The agreement between Washington Healthplanfinder and Live Nation will include a sweepstakes for concert tickets, including free passes to the summer music festival at The Gorge in George.
“We’re super excited about this,” said Michael Marchand, a spokesman for the exchange.
The outreach program will be all about encouraging people to sign up for health insurance, not actually sitting people down in front of a computer during a rock concert.
“That might be a tall ask,” Marchand said.
There will be information available at concert venues and possibly a sign-up booth at the multi-day Sasquatch festival. The exchange will sponsor the Sasquatch launch party in February, as well as tag on with some of Live Nation’s advertising and social media campaigns. The sweepstakes will be run through the exchange’s Facebook page.
Before health care reform went into effect, an estimated one million Washington residents did not have health insurance. About half of Washington’s uninsured are young adults, according to a study by the Washington State Budget &Policy Center and a poll from the Kaiser Family Foundation.
As of Jan. 9, more than 73,000 Washington residents had signed up for private insurance through the health care exchange. Another 76,000 people have done everything to buy insurance except for making their first payment.
Another 198,000 people have enrolled in free insurance through Medicaid since the exchange opened.
The first open enrollment period for health insurance through the new exchange ends in March. Adults who do not sign up for health insurance by that time, and don’t have insurance through their job or parents, may have to pay a fine on the federal income taxes in early 2015.
Washington Healthplanfinder: http://www.wahealthplanfinder.org