On Thursday, the CMS released advertisements featuring former NBA stars Magic Johnson and Alonzo Mourning. Johnson has lived with HIV since for more than two decades. Mourning retired from the NBA because of a life-threatening kidney disease, but subsequently returned to the court after receiving a transplant. The ads will air during basketball games on ESPN, TNT and other channels. “We know the young and healthy audience responds well to sports figures, and these 30-second ads feature two NBA legends that each have a compelling health story,” CMS spokeswoman Julie Bataille said in a statement.
States are making similar efforts to reach younger potential enrollees. Washington's exchange, for example, is partnering with the concert promoter Live Nation to boost the online marketplace. Washington Health Benefit Exchange has signed on as a sponsor of the Sasquatch! Music Festival, which next takes place in May. On Feb. 3, the state exchange is sponsoring a launch party for the outdoor festival at Seattle's Neptune Theater that will feature performers such as Cold War Kids and St. Lucia. Richard Onizuka, the exchange's CEO said the initiative would “leverage the affinity and trust that Washington concert-goers, specifically young adults, have for music.”
But if comments by insurance executives at this week's JP Morgan Healthcare conference in San Francisco are any indication, the angst over the initial demographic data may be misplaced. Their comments regarding the exchanges—despite the bumpy rollout—were generally positive.
“Despite the near-term uncertainty, we believe exchanges will be growing as a big part of the market over time,” said Joseph Swedish, CEO of WellPoint, which is selling products on the exchanges in all 14 states where it does business. “We are more focused on the endgame of exchanges than the twists and turns in the near term.”
Jay Gellert, president and CEO of Health Net, was even more bullish on the fledgling marketplaces. “Our view is that once this gets into place, there's some continued, significant growth opportunities,” he said. “We're all in, and we're happy we are.”
In fact, insurance consultant John Gorman suggests the latest enrollment data marks a significant step toward entrenchment of the federal healthcare overhaul. “It was the last gasp of the Obamacare dead-enders,” Gorman said. “It's now pretty clear this program's going to work. It's going to be a rocky couple of years cleaning up this goat rodeo, but this program's going to work.”