Despite expensive hipster ads, Oregon exchange worst at enrolling young invincibles

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Apparently Oregon’s catchy, expensive Obamacare hipster ads fell flat. Very flat.

Newly released data reveals that Cover Oregon, the state’s Obamacare exchange, has been the worst exchange in the country at attracting young people.

Just 18 percent of the coveted young invincibles, or people between the ages of 18-34, in Oregon have enrolled in Obamacare. Oregon tied with West Virginia with the worst level of young participation.

The national average participation rate for that age group was 25 percent, significantly lower than the 40 percent goal the Obama administration had set for that population.

Cover Oregon generated early attention with the release of a multimillion-dollar advertising campaign featuring the music and artwork of local artists. In December, when the Cover Oregon website continued to be unable to accept enrollments and just 44 residents were able to sign up with paper applications, the exchange pulled the ads.

Despite the weak result, the director of Cover Oregon remained hopeful that more young people would sign up by the March 31 deadline.

“There is a lot of confusion out there. We have some of the lowest premiums in the country. Oregonians can apply and enroll at,” Cover Oregon spokesman Michael Cox told The Oregonian. “We are optimistic that as the word gets out about this, young people will come in by the deadline.”

Earlier this month, after bipartisan requests from lawmakers, the Government Accountability Office said it will be auditing Oregon’s exchange website, given the fact that it has yet to enroll anyone, despite spending over $300 million in taxpayer dollars.

Perhaps fittingly, Oregon’s ad campaign was featured in Oklahoma Republican Sen. Tom Coburn’s 2013 Wastebook, which chronicled the top 100 most wasteful government-spending items.

“Oregon is spending $10 million advertising Obamacare with advertisements that don’t even mention the program or how to enroll in it. One of the television ads, produced by the Portland advertising agency North, Inc., does not mention the word ‘insurance’ or how or why to enroll in the program. Another Oregon ad does not mention the word ‘insurance,’ but features what appears to be Gumby riding on the Beatles’ yellow submarine,” the Wastebook read. “Between Oct. 1 to Nov. 30, however, just 44 residents were able to sign up for private insurance through Cover Oregon.”


Other data from the report revealed that 79 percent of Oregonians who applied qualified for financial assistance. And about half of the people who have been determined to be eligible have actually chosen a health-care plan.

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Tags : obamacare
Caroline May