Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Push on for Health Care Sign-Ups; Events Aim to Encourage Young People to Enroll in Health Insurance Plans

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Push on for Health Care Sign-Ups; Events Aim to Encourage Young People to Enroll in Health Insurance Plans

Article excerpt

Free food and music are notorious for attracting young people; at least that's the hope of insurance enrollment counselors.

Before the March 31 deadline under the Affordable Care Act, groups are beefing up their campaigns to bring last-minute customers to the federal health insurance marketplace.

Cover Missouri a coalition of 400 organizations led by the Missouri Foundation for Health has 130 enrollment events statewide this month. The St. Louis Effort for Aids, for example, planned the Rock Enroll event Saturday on Cherokee Street.

Four bands played while attendees munched on Don Carlos tacos. Upstairs, five certified application counselors helped consumers apply for health insurance online and select a plan.

Nancy Kelley, event coordinator, said she hoped to attract "young invincibles," people younger than 35 who typically believe they don't need insurance.

For Hilary Albers, 27, the food and music were "definitely not the allure. The allure was the navigator." Albers walked away with an insurance plan.

For many others, the event was about supporting friends who performed their music. Some said they were already insured. Others said they plan to use the marketplace to shop for coverage. By the end of the event, 10 people had enrolled in health insurance.

Ryan Barker, vice president of health policy at the foundation, said the coalition has been resourceful in its efforts. Social media has been an important tool. One Facebook chat event for Cover Missouri had as many as 300 people in the conversation at once.

And Kelley said she pulled off the Rock Enroll fair with a $1,100 budget.

But without any help from the state, it's been an uphill battle.

By the end of January, more than 54,000 Missourians signed up for a private plan on the marketplace, short of the 73,160 projected by the Department of Health and Human Services in September. …

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