Obamacare's Grassroots Marketing Plan Falls Flat



Obamacare's marketing to young adults isn't going as well as hoped. The original, highly targeted door-to-door campaign intended to reach out to the young and healthy demographic the White House has said is critical to the law's success has been largely scrapped, according to Buzzfeed's Evan McMorris-Santoro:

The original recruitment plan envisioned by Enroll America and other White House allies was highly targeted: Using an army of grassroots workers, the groups planned to knock on individual doors to find the uninsured and educate them about their new health care options.

After relying on that method during the opening months of health care enrollment, the effort has been largely scrapped, those familiar with recruitment said, especially when it comes to young people. It proved harder to find the volunteers supporters needed for canvassing efforts than it did to find volunteers willing to work at events, organizers said, and canvassing for young people proved slower than expected. In its place now is a recruitment drive focused on finding young people where they gather and handing out information about the health care law.

The context here is that last summer, before the botched launch of the exchanges, the White House was telling reporters that the law's success or failure hinged on the percentage of young adult sign ups. "To the White House, the difference between success and failure is straightforward: They need to entice a sufficient number of young and healthy adults into the new insurance marketplaces that open Oct. 1," wrote The Washington Post's Ezra Klein and Sarah Kliff in a lengthy report on how the administration planned to convince young people to buy insurance under the law. Persuading young, healthy people to buy insurance, the pair wrote, was the "crux of Obamacare's challenge."

That obviously hasn't happened to the extent that the White House was hoping. Before the exchanges went live, the administration said it was looking for about seven million enrollees in the exchanges, and needed about 39 percent of them to be between the ages of 18 and 34. But the most recent data we have indicates that, so far, that age cohort makes up more like 24-25 percent of the total.

The same Post report also describes the White House's belief that it will be able to use data-driven, campaign style targeting to connect with uninsured young adults. The Buzzfeed article suggests that those efforts haven't really worked. The administration and its allies are doing what they can to modify their approach, but they're also just redefining success, saying that seven million sign ups was never really the goal and that things will be just fine with a much lower percentage of young adults than they'd targeted. Which was not only predictable but predicted. "[The administration's] job in 2013 is to declare victory in any way possible," Doug Holtz-Eakin, president of the conservative American Action Forum, told the Post. "They'll keep moving goal posts until they can declare victory." 

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  1. They just need to market the marketing better, that’s all.

  2. Obamacare’s marketing to young adults isn’t going as well as hoped.

    Have they tried slutty girl and keg stand ads?

    1. I love how they think they own and can easily manipulate the young, to the extent of getting them to spend thousands on something they don’t need. Let me clue you in on something, guys–voting don’t cost nothing.

      1. Both TEAMs’ contempt for large swaths of their supporters is well fucking known.

        1. It’s not just the contempt–I agree, that’s axiomatic with them–it’s not understanding that slogans don’t work when they directly affect pocketbooks. That should matter in the indirect sense, too (else, how would any sane person reelect Obama or most other Democrats and, for that matter, most Republicans), but many people need something more obvious before they’ll act. . .or not act.

          1. I submit that the core problem is the belief that the winners are the people who are voted for.
            There’s very little ‘voting for’ going on — it’s almost entirely ‘voting against’.
            I remain steadfast in my view that first term Obama was not the disaster than McCain would have been.
            But I still here Obama defenders claiming that no matter how bad he is, and they acknowledge that he is bad, he’s better than the alternative would have been.
            And that seems to be characteristic across voting

            1. You hear that because that’s the excuse now, but back when they voted for Obama in 2008, it wasn’t because McCain would have been worse, it was because Obama was ultra-dreamy.

              The only reason they’ve fallen back on “McCain would have been worse” is because Obama has turned out to be so terrible. but it’s not what they were expecting. Of course, they’re morons, so that’s not surprising.

              1. I can kind of understand 2008 as a reaction to Bush. Okay, fine. Stupid, but fine.

                But 2012? Makes no fucking sense at all, not even in the stupid sense, and I say that as someone who disputes that Romney wasn’t a bad CGI construct. It’s one of the few times in U.S. history when voters didn’t toss the incumbent because of a shitty economy.

                1. TEAM UBER ALLES, ProL. That is all you need to know to understand.

                  Partisanship is the death of liberty.

                  1. Per our earlier discussion, I am bad with irrationality. Total, complete irrationality.

                2. Basically it was 2004 with the party’s reversed. You had a Presidency that played out much differently than what the public wanted or was sold and an election winnable by the opposition – who then chose to run the most milktoast guy they could find and didn’t pound the need for change.

  3. I’m reminded of an idea that I first saw on the show “Yes, minister”: whenever the government starts a new program, it should state up front under what conditions the program should be judged a failure.

    Needless to say, Sir Humphrey (representing the civil service bureaucracy) wasn’t a fan of the idea.

    1. Required viewing for anyone wanting to engage politics seriously. It’s a show that reveals the power of bureaucracy and the reasons why intentions do not matter where political sausage-making is concerned. It’s centrist and brilliant and hilarious where West Wing was sad, mawkish porn for liberal poli-sci majors.

    2. I like it. And wars as well!

  4. No administration should be engaged in marketing anyway. I said this when the Bush administration began marketing EBT cards in Mexico in 2004 and I repeat it now.

    Consistency – that is my hallmark.

    1. *dies laughing*

  5. I would like to know two numbers:

    The dollar amount spent on “navigators”.

    The per-navigator average number of plan signups to date.

    Can anyone provide those numbers for me?

    1. I have this sudden vision of navigators as Girl Scouts, only they sell cookies no one really wants.

      1. Given how addictive they already make them, one has to wonder how long it is before they just start adding pot directly to the cookies they sell in states where it is legal.

  6. In its place now is a recruitment drive focused on finding young people where they gather and handing out information about the health care law.

    Oh please, Pajama Boy, come and get your ass beat.

  7. This really seems to be community-organizer thinking, or getting-elected thing, not national-program thinking.

    This schadenfreudefest is never ending. The WaPo just reported that Healthcare.gov can’t handle appeals, Apparently 22,000 think they got the wrong plan or were unfairly denied coverage, and they’ve all filled out seven-page forms which have been scanned and entered, but the people at CMS can’t access them because that part of the site (among many others) isn’t built yet. Everyone is being told to go back to the site and “start over.”

    1. If that’s true, that is pure. Fucking. Gold.

      1. Here you go.

        And I loved this bit:

        So far, it is not among the top priorities for completing parts of the federal insurance exchange’s computer system that still do not work. Those include an electronic payment system for insurers, the computerized exchange of enrollment information with state Medicaid programs, and the ability to adjust people’s coverage to accommodate new babies and other major changes in life circumstance.

        1. I’m looking forward to April. All of it. April is going to make shutdownpocalypsquestration look… well, look like the non-issue it was.

        2. Remember how one of the urgent reforms justifying the ACA was that insurers didn’t handle appeals promptly. Well now that’s fixed.

          1. Another problem was high deductibles!

    2. it’s basically ACORN as your insurance salesman. I can’t believe it’s not working.

  8. I’ll tell you something else that’s happening–insurers are apparently being a lot more stingy with their coverage. We’re running into denials for things that were covered under the same plan as recently as last year, including things being reclassified as experimental. With that plan I was supposed to be able to keep. To say nothing about the much higher premiums or the doubled deductibles.

    1. PriceWaterhouse finds ACA premiums actually 20% lower than employer plans.

      The study found that the price of premiums is lower for consumers who select the lowest-priced Obamacare plans. The average cost for a bronze plan was about $4,885 or 20 percent less than an employer-based plan. The study did not factor in the subsidies offered by employers, or the tax credits offered on the Obamacare exchanges.

      “Across the board, at every level, average exchange premiums are lower than this year’s average premiums for employer-sponsored coverage,” the report said, adding that the exchanges also offer a wider selection of plans to choose from than those offered by employers.


      1. Derp. And check out those deductibles, asshat.

        1. Healthy people still save 20%, jerkwad.

          1. Bull. For one thing, this year’s premiums are artificially low because the insurance companies were working with bogus, optimistic administration estimates regarding the number and mix of signups.

          2. Wait, paying a 1% penalty for refusing to buy health insurance I neither want nor need is a 20% savings?

            Enjoying lower premiums up until I have to pay a substantially higher deductible is a 20% savings?

            1. Forgive Shriek–basic math and resource-verification has always eluded him.

          3. Why do healthy people need an ObamaPlan…they used to just buy insurance.


      2. The study found that the price of premiums is lower for consumers who select the lowest-priced Obamacare plans. The average cost for a bronze plan was about $4,885 or 20 percent less than an employer-based plan.

        And how does the coverage compare? Availability of physicians? Deductibles?

        1. Deductibles are 40% higher.

          But this is the oft repeated claim:

          To say nothing about the much higher premiums

          We are finding that the actual data shows that premiums are lower.

          I give the market exchange credit – markets work!

          1. We are finding that the actual data shows that premiums are lower.

            But this study is not comparing plans based on coverage. You might as well compare Honda Civics to BMWs.

            1. Okay. Do you guys realize what’s happening here?

              Palin’s Butplug, aka Shrike, aka Shreak is the Internet equivalent of the homeless guy screaming at a wall. In real life, he would be stinking of urine and the putrefaction oozing from his sores. His brain shows signs of having been destroyed from years of consuming a diet consisting of nothing but alcohol.

              It’s not a human. It’s no longer sentient. It is a bundle of neurons that once was a man. It dimly remembers a time when it was sentient, but now is only capable of aping humanity by muttering things in hope it will get a response.

              It screams at the wall, beceause that is all it knows how to do. It wants the wall to scream back, because it thinks that is what a conversation is. So it screams, and when you try to debate it, you are wasting your time. It can’t understand what you are saying… not really. It can only ape a conversation. When you are pounding its pathetic arguments into the ground, it doesn’t recognize that it’s losing; it is ecstatic that the wall is finally screaming back and storing the sequence of words that triggered the marvelous feeling of mattering again.

              Debating it is a futile experience.

              If you wrote “Snippety Blippety Boo, so there” it would be just as thrilled as when you explain that a soviet style state run grocery store selling goods at prices dictated by the state isn’t free markety.

              You are literally wasting your time. In real life, you’d know to avoid it.

              1. In real life, he would be stinking of urine and the putrefaction oozing from his sores.

                What makes you think he isn’t?

              2. It’s always fun watching Palin’s Buttplug come over here from his perch at OFA to beat the Libertarians into submission with the Wisdom of Dear Leader.

                If Only Libertarians and Reactionary Righties would understand that some Eggs Must Be Broken to make that omelet that is baking in the middle of the Road we call the Pathway to the Radiant Future!

                Shorter Palin’s Buttplug: “Fuhrer!Fuhrer!Fuhrer!”

        2. Or the fact that an employer was probably picking up a chunk of it and now, wisely, aren’t?

          1. Why should the employer get screwed when now the taxpayer, or to be more accurate, the taxpayer’s as yet unborn grandchildren, can get a sound rogering instead?

        3. So, from what I can tell, they compared the average premium for the barest obamacare plan to the average of all employer based plans? That’s not a meaningful comparison at all. You need to at least make some attempt to adjust for other factors, like networks, deductibles, co-pays, formularies, etc.

        4. The average cost for a bronze plan was about $4,885 or 20 percent less than an employer-based plan.

          So, the worst plan is cheaper than a typical employer-based plan.

          And that’s after paying for all the useless mandated coverage.

          This should raise the question of what has been cut on the benefit side in those bronze plans. Access to physicians? Higher copays? Higher deductibles?

          The only way benefits aren’t cut to allow lower premiums is if, on average, the new insurance pools are much healthier than the old ones. And we have absolutely no reason to believe that is true, and good reason to believe its not.

      3. Study finds that apples are cheaper than oranges. Therefore cost of fruit has been reduced.

  9. Using an army of grassroots workers, the groups planned to knock on individual doors to find the uninsured

    And make sure they are registered to vote. Let’s not forget that grafted onto OCare is voter registration. This is pretty much a transparent attempt to put DemOp voter registration/community activist groups on the federal payroll to shill for Democrat votes.

    Glad it failed.

    1. Doors in the college dorm except they’re all now on mom’s plan…

      I would think the average numbers of doors of real adults they would knock on before fearing for their personal well being at about three. Others would just troll them for hours asking questions they have no answers for.

  10. I think they will be able to connect with young and healthy types through good marketing. Getting them to cut a check for $500 pm though, that is another question.

    They are clueless. Getting someone to vote for you/connect with you/support you if you promise them something is way different than getting someone to vote/connect/support you if it costs them anything.

  11. Just like everything he does and exposes his entire life`s achievements. FLAT!

  12. Damn! I must be old. Nobody knocked on my door.

  13. The great thing for Libertarians?

    The Regime will never, EVER, be able to live down Pajama Boy.

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