State of Illinois and The Onion team up to sell health insurance

BY Chelsea Coatney  February 11, 2014 at 2:04 PM EDT
Get Covered Illinois and The Onion are hoping to attract the younger generation with a set of humorous online ads

Get Covered Illinois and The Onion are hoping to attract the younger generation with a set of humorous online ads

In an attempt to get more “young invincibles” to sign up for health insurance through the Affordable Care Act, the state of Illinois’ health care outreach program, Get Covered Illinois, is teaming up with Chicago-based satirical news website, The Onion. Slogans such as “Recently Insured Man Can’t Wait To Get Out There, Start Seriously Injuring Himself” and “Man Without Health Insurance is Forced to Sell Action Figures to Pay Medical Bills” will be seen in banner ads, a video, an editorial and a custom news section on The Onion website in a humorous campaign targeting uninsured young adults aged 21-34.

That age group — the same group of people who are The Onion’s core audience — — makes up 53 percent of the uninsured residents in Illinois, according to state data. The demographic is considered critical to the success of the Affordable Care Act. According to experts, roughly two in five Americans signing up for healthcare through the marketplaces should be between the ages of 18 and 34 in order to prevent premiums from rising and insurers from dropping out. As of the January progress report released by the Department of Health and Human Services, only 24% of enrollees are in that age group.

Get Covered Illinois hopes to boost those numbers by understanding their target audience and taking a creative approach to spreading the message. Jennifer Koehler, executive director of Get Covered Illinois said in a press release, “We know that to effectively reach Young Invincibles … we have to work with non-traditional, and especially digital, sources for news and entertainment. That’s where The Onion fits right into our outreach strategy.” Get Covered Illinois is also making a push to engage young adults through social media — GCI’s Facebook follower count has tripled since December– and to more traditional digital, radio and TV outlets through advertisements that will lead up to the March 31 federal health care sign-up deadline approaches.