Can the NFL Make Obamacare Appealing to Young People?

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Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius is hoping that the National Football League can help make Obamacare look cool. Sebelius announced that she had spoken with NFL officials to see if the organization would help promote the new insurance options that were created by the Affordable Care Act.

She said that the football league has been “very actively and enthusiastically engaged” in discussions about a partnership to encourage people to enroll on the new health insurance exchanges, which will provide coverage to an estimated 7 million Americans next year. “We’re having active discussions right now with a variety of sports affiliates” about both paid advertising and partnerships to encourage enrollment, Sebelius told reporters from The Hill.

Reportedly, the Department of Health and Human Services is in talks with the National Basketball Association as well. After all, using professional sports teams is a well-proven strategy; the Boston Red Sox filmed a commercial promoting Massachusetts’s healthcare law when it took effect in 2006. “We know the Red Sox were incredibly effective in Massachusetts … so it’s a logical place to go,” Sebelius said, according to the publication.

Partnerships with professional sports organizations appeared on the department’s radar because of their popularity with young people, especially the young men Obamacare needs to enroll in the law’s new coverage options.

Young, healthy adults are “exactly the type of person insurance plans, states and the federal government are counting on to make health reform work,” reported the Los Angeles Times earlier this month. Their participation is critical because their premiums will cover the big bills for the relatively small number of older and sicker patients who are more likely to sign up for health insurance as soon as possible and more likely to receive subsidized coverage.

But since young people will be required to enormously increase their healthcare outlays, the challenge for the successful implementation of the new exchanges is enticing those cheap-to-insure adults to sign up for Obamacare.

Because most young people use health insurance less often than other people, they are cheaper to insure. But, consequently, they are also less likely to have insurance.

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