Online Tools, Innovative Programming, and Issuers: Three Keys to Reaching Young Adults in the Next Open Enrollment Period

By Molly Warren

Young adults (ages 18 to 34) have always been an important group to the enrollment community because of their high uninsured rates and the desire for a balanced and stable risk pool. And while millions of young adults have gained health coverage since the Affordable Care Act became law, the cohort continued to have markedly higher uninsured rates than other age groups going into the third open enrollment period (OE3). Moving into the next open enrollment period — applying lessons learned from the last three years — Enroll America and various other national stakeholders are prioritizing young adult outreach. Here’s what we’re doing.

We’ve seen, for instance, that our online tools appeal to a younger audience: Over 40 percent of consumers who purchased a plan through our Get Covered Plan Explorer tool during OE3 were 18-34 years old compared with the 28 percent of OE3 marketplace enrollees who were 18-34. We’ve also seen similar levels of engagement with young adults in our Calculator and Connector tools. Ensuring online tools are available, useful, and easy to navigate is only the first step; getting these tools to consumers through social media, partners, and digital and traditional advertising is essential as well. Interested organizations can help spread the word by embedding or sending consumers to any of our online tools.

In addition to existing digital outreach, Enroll America is launching a new initiative, “My Campus, Our Coverage,” an online resource hub focused on young adults in partnership with Young Invincibles and Out2Enroll (coming this month!). We’re also excited to partner with the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and support the outreach plan they laid out in June to reach and enroll young adults, which includes implementing new and refining past successful outreach strategies, and engaging with existing and new partners alike.

We see issuers as having an important role in education and retention, as well as helping to identify and educate young adults who are aging off Medicaid/CHIP or their parent’s coverage. There are distinct increases in uninsured rates at these transition points (between ages 18 and 19, and 25 and 26), and issuers can help identify these individuals, educate them about the financial help that may be available to them, and encourage them to apply to help mitigate gaps in coverage.

Deloitte Consulting also recently recommended that issuers work more on appealing to young adults, including: taking the lead in educating young adults about cost-sharing and provider networks; improving their digital presence and social media efforts to meet young adults via their preferred channels; and focusing on providing good value and service to better retain enrollees.

We look forward to working with HHS, issuers, and the rest of the enrollment community to maximize the number of young adults enrolled in health coverage in OE4. Stayed tuned for our new programs coming soon!

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