Here’s How to Get Young People to Sign Up for Obamacare: Threaten Them

Why are more young people signing up for Obamacare this year? According to Mike Perry and Tresa Undem of the polling firm PerryUndem, it’s because this year they’re being successfully browbeaten:

“They’re not like other groups,” says Perry. “In focus groups, they don’t talk about wanting preventive care, or the importance of covering their family. Young adults really talk about two things: accidents could screw me over, and I don’t want to pay the fine.

….[Anne Filipic of Enroll America] said that her group wanted to understand what they should call the individual mandate. Should it be the mandate? Or a tax? A fine? A penalty? Enroll America tested out the different words in different versions in the subject lines of their emails, seeing which ones recipients were more or less likely to open. They found that fine worked best — so they went with that.

….Enroll America has a calculator that lets potential enrollees see how much financial help they’d be eligible to receive if they signed up for coverage….”The calculator is consistently the most visited page on our site, so we’re testing different ways to incorporate that information,” she says. “We want to give consumers specific information, related to their own situation, rather than generalities.”

It also helps that the fine for not buying coverage is going up. In Obamacare’s first year the minimum fine was only $95. In 2015 it was $325. In 2016, it jumps to $695. This is a much stronger motivator, and it also makes the financial case for buying coverage a lot stronger. In other words, it’s doing exactly what it was designed to do.